Penny Ruthberg

Penny is a multidisciplinary artist whose work investigates the emotional bond between humans and canines and explores the deep connections between the species. Her art practice investigates the expression of what it is to be human as evident in the symbolic representation of dogs throughout history and across cultures in language, literature, visual arts and mythology.

Penny completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours (Printmaking) in 2013 and has participated in solo and group shows within Tasmania and Australia as well as national and international residencies.

Suspended Reality

Penny has developed this body of work as a response to the coronavirus pandemic and media reports revealing that during 2020, Australian animal shelters had a surge in the rehoming of dogs. The drawings and ceramics in Penny’s exhibition capture the experience of physical and psychological isolation. Her work echoes the sensation of being caught in limbo and feelings of vulnerability. The exhibition also explores the tension during lockdown between physical distancing and the need for companionship.

Penny uses canines as stand-ins for the human experience. Groups of hand built ceramic dogs are locked within transparent house-shaped boxes suspended around the gallery space.

Graphite compositions slip between a dream-like state and a moment captured. The drawings appear simultaneously suspended and falling in negative space. Penny has rendered the images with sensitivity and delicacy to create a sense of fragility and transience. Adding to the sensation of the blurring of time the canine figures hover in the foreground of the picture plane with an absence of a horizon or any contextual information. Only the picture frame acts as a border, holding everything in place.