About the artworkMandrakes are perennial herbaceous plants with leaves borne in a basal rosette, long thick roots (often branched) and almost no stem. Because mandrakes contain deliriant hallucinogenic tropane alkaloids and the shape of their roots often resembles human figures, they have been associated with a variety of superstitious practices throughout history, including magic rituals. In one superstition, people who pull up this root will be condemned to hell, and the mandrake root would scream and cry as it was pulled from the ground, killing anyone who heard it. While botanically accurate above ground, Gabby's mandrake root here is distinctly and bashfully feminine.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.