Penny Byrne

1965 - Not another Landmine, lamented Sallyanne 2009 vintage ceramic figurines, vintage action man accessories, epoxy resin, French chalk, vintage draughts pieces, re-touching medium and powder pigment 49 x 39 x 20 cm Collection Shepparton Art Museum, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the artist, 2009 2010.21 ©courtesy of the artist

Not Another Landmine Lamented Sallyanne is a ceramic work by the leading contemporary ceramicist Penny Byrne. The artist has utilized Victorian porcelain figures to construct a menacing scene that explores the devastating effects of landmines on innocent civilians. Byrne is renowned for creating ironic and witty sculptural works that comment on politics, mythology and society through re-purposed and altered ceramic collectables.

As both a visual artist and a highly respected ceramics conservator, Byrne is able to apply techniques learnt in her conservation practice to meticulously construct her calculated subversions. The distorted, mutilated and decorated porcelain figurines create a “shock of the familiar” as mass-produced kitsch objects are used in unexpected and provocative ways. It is this satirical modification of familiar objects that confronts the viewer and forces them to reconsider their positions on important socio-political issues.

In Not Another Landmine Lamented Sallyanne we are presented with a young woman – presumably the Sallyanne of the work’s title – who is a multiple amputee as a result of being the victim of a landmine explosion. The woman has happened upon a dismembered and bloody young man who has recently suffered the same fate that had previously struck her. Byrne reiterates that landmines are an ongoing issue globally, regardless of whether they are currently in the media cycle or not, and many communities continue to be plagued by the threat of landmines. The uncanny presentation of these familiar porcelain figurines as the victims of landmine detonations highlights the universal suffering that these explosives can inflict.