Beautifully grotesque art challenges with texture

Morwell artist Christopher Miller toys with the viewer's mind with the grotesque and the familiar in his first solo exhibition at arc Yinnar. photographs hayley mills

Morwell artist Christopher Miller toys with the viewer's mind with the grotesque and the familiar in his first solo exhibition at arc Yinnar. photographs hayley mills

Twenty-three-year-old Morwell artist Christopher Miller has used the role reversal of the beautiful and the grotesque to dominate his first solo exhibition.

Dutch Golden Age still life painting with its banquets of abundant fruit, hanging pheasants and looming decay has been a springboard for Miller to take things further and prompt viewers to look closer and question.

A real mummified cat covered in gold - with some sections 24 karat - is there to get the conversation started.

"The biggest thing people get shock appeal from is something they recognise," Miller, who grew up in Maffra, said.

The glammed-up cat is fastened onto a picture frame which hangs above a chair and table setting, covered in a texture which looks like skin and growths.

This cup is covered in a growth-like texture.

This cup is covered in a growth-like texture.

"The cat was given to me by a lecturer. He found it years ago in the wall of a house," Miller said.

"It was very confronting for me to handle originally, because of course, it wasn't gold."

The Federation University Churchill masters graduate has made sculptural still life pieces in an array of wacky and unexpected materials which allow the viewer to inspect the table setting from various angles, unlike his Dutch predecessors.

"It comes back to that classic idea of the perfect arrangement, but I interpret them in 3D," Miller said.

A soft cobalt material used in the base of jewellery boxes covers shellfish and fruit, flattening its appearance, and things become stranger when a chicken skin-like substance covers a table setting.

"Do people still want to drink out of that wine glass, for example, even though it looks not exactly appealing but it's still functional?" Miller said.

For another piece Miller made his own cement using soaked toilet paper and cement he named 'papercrete' which he expected to take a month to dry, then waited five.

The fruit is coated in a texture similar to chicken skin.

The fruit is coated in a texture similar to chicken skin.

Miller agreed the idea of his exhibition was to shock.

"The closer people look the more they might be disturbed or intrigued," he said.

"A lot of my work the viewer has to really have their own opinion and sometimes they won't have any and sometimes they're really intrigued.

"Some people are always attracted to the table. People want to touch. Sometimes people do not want to touch at all."

Formation will be on display at arc Yinnar until June 30.

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