Issues of Contemporary Motherhood in the art of Patricia Piccinini

Helen McDonald

As part of the La Trobe Art History Seminar Helen McDonald will speak on the topic of her new book – Patricia Piccinini: Nearly Beloved (Sydney: Piper Press) 2012

McDonald questions the idea that Patricia Piccinini’s art is ‘ethical aesthetics’, as one commentator has described it. She explains how allegories of motherhood and the body are central in Piccinini’s art, enabling it to evoke primal human feelings—in all their strangeness—about relating to others in a world of accelerating technological change. In that it is driven by emotion, confounds reason, prevents judgment and expresses ambivalence, Piccinini’s art reflects the moral dilemmas that prospective mothers confront.

Helen McDonald is Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne. She is author of Erotic Ambiguities: The Female Nude in Art (London and New York: Routledge) 2001 and Patricia Piccinini: Nearly Beloved (Sydney: Piper Press) 2012. She will take up a Visiting Fellowship at the Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University, Canberra, where she will work on her forthcoming book A Dry Aesthetic: contemporary art, dry country and climate change.

Date: 12:10 to 1:45 pm, Thursday 31 May 2012.

Venue: Library Seminar Room Level 1, Borchardt Library, La Trobe University, Bundoora (Melbourne)

All welcome

For more information – Please contact the convenor Dr Adelina Modesti Phone: (03) 9479 2366 Email: or