About the artworkPiqued by the never-ending COVID-19 pandemic, artist Gabby Malpas personifies her frustrations in a couple of intriguing antagonists. Firstly, the aloof and contemptuous hookah-smoking caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland. It sits on one of three poisonous Fly Agaric toadstools in different stages of development which it invites Alice to eat to regain her size. While not normally fatal, it might be hallucinogenic enough to give one a 'bad trip'. A praying mantis sits on the most juvenile toadstool. Known to be an ambush predator, female mantises are also infamous for sexual cannibalism - eating their mates after copulation.The work is painted in watercolour and gouache on Arches paper.
Gabby Malpas was born in 1966 in Auckland, New Zealand and currently lives and works in Sydney, Australia where she exhibits, teaches watercolour and supports young artists.
Adopted as a baby, Gabby realised only much later that she was Chinese and not â€œwhiteâ€ like the other members of her adoptive family. Very early, her adoptive parents encouraged her to draw. She studied ceramics at the Otago Polytechnic School of Fine Art, graduating in 1986.
After her studies, Gabby Malpas switched media and turned to ink, watercolour and paper, a support for her art that is much easier to carry around on her many travels, in particular to Southeast Asia. From 1989 to 2003 she lived in the United Kingdom. She has exhibited her work regularly since 1987, but it was only as of 2004 that her dream came true and she became a full-time artist. At that time, she decided to find her biological mother and their reunion significantly influenced her work as an artist as well as her lifestyle. She is fascinated by the merging and abundance of oriental and western elements in the Peranakan culture. Peranakans are the descendants of the first Chinese immigrants who settled in the British colonies of Malacca, Penang and Singapore. Her works reflect multicultural influences that may seem discordant to purists; she is unconsciously defying stereotypes.