Inside the Collection

It’s a small world, art by Kendal Murray, Jeannie Baker and Sandra Taylor

Photograph of 'Deja Vu, Review'
2012/69/1 Mixed media assemblage ‘Deja Vu, Review’, mixed material, Kendal Murray, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2011. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

Museums have used toys, models and dioramas to explain and comment on the workings of a larger world. Here, artist Kendal Murray has created a miniature surreal world atop an antique purse though her work Déjà vu, Review’. This sculptural mixed media offers a playful look at the domestic world and holiday culture. The miniature world draws us closer, and invites us to investigate.

As we view this strange tableau presented by ‘Deja Vu, Review’ we are the voyeurs and participants, as is the man watching the woman vacuum from afar. This artwork invites the viewer to call upon personal memories of holidays and housework.

Photograph of 'Deja Vu, Review'
Close up of 2012/69/1 Mixed media assemblage ‘Deja Vu, Review‘, mixed material, made by
Kendal Murray, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2011

Murray’s work explores scenarios that are imbued with social and personalised meaning. Humorous, melancholic and sometimes disturbing, her work is layered with representations of emotional and physical experiences.

There is a fascination for children and adults in these small reflected worlds. Sydney artist and children’s author Jeannie Bakers collages also invite us to explore our everyday natural world and environment. Kendal Murray’s works invite exploration of the dreamland, fantasy and everyday domestic duty.

Drawn from her own collection, Murray uses found objects such as purses, teapots and make up compacts to create fantasy worlds. She also connects to the world of miniature, childhood and dreaming. Although not quite the layering collages of Jeannie Bakers work, it has a similar appeal. It asks us to look closer and seek out familiar objects that appear in a small world. Murray helps us recall the playful freedom we lose in growing up, her work represents a universe of whimsy and nostalgia.

Another miniature world is this view from above of ‘Christmas at San Souci’ work by cermascist Sandra Taylor.

Photograph of Table sculpture,Living room
A9646-3 Table sculpture,Living room, with pig on couch, part of table sculpture “Xmas Day at Sans Souci”, glazed stoneware, Sandra Taylor, Australia. 1981-1983. (OF)Collection: Powerhouse Museum

Taylor’s work has been humorously and critically observant of some aspect of Australian ‘norms’, and over the years she has made these observations through metaphors as diverse as pigs, savaloys, palm trees, dogs, cattle, houses, swimming pools and pencil pines.

Photograph of Table sculpture, Garden "Barrier Reef" pond and Garden
A9646-1:2 Table sculpture, Garden “Barrier Reef” pond and Garden, lawn with three sheep, part of table sculpture “Xmas Day at Sans Souci”, glazed stoneware, Sandra Taylor, Australia. 1981-1983. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

Seen here from the side is another part of the Christmas tableau collection, titled ‘Garden, Barrier Reef Pond” the three sheep are observing the garden gnomes.


Written by Anni Turnbull, curator, design and society

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