Caroline Rothwell's practice engages with the politics of place, migration, conflict and mortality through the lens of the environment. Her work often draws on the anatomy of endangered or extinct species, though she is equally known for creating mutant and hybrid forms that explore the impacts of biotechnology and environmental contamination. What may at first appear playful or innocent in Rothwell's work - shiny surfaces, toy-like contours, the allure of a flower or animal - are typically decoys for more ominous or unsettling subjects.
'Attendants (after Schongauer)' takes its cue from an early but influential engraving by German artist Martin Schongauer 'The Temptation of Saint Anthony' c1470s. This work depicts Saint Anthony in a state of calm while a group of devils claw and club his body, attempting to sabotage his pursuit of religious ascetism. Schongauer imagined these vicious creatures as fanciful hybrids with body parts amalgamated from different classes of animal - wings, horns, beaks, claws, scales and so on.
Rothwell's 'attendants' follow in the image of Schongauer's devils, mingling the grotesque and fantastic. However, her gathering of creatures is without an object of malice; perched on plinths (or suspended from above) among a grove of trees, they radiate a sinister but undirected energy. Hence they read as symbols - or perhaps symptoms - of a more general humanistic angst, perpetuated by the status quo of an increasingly unstable world: politically, environmentally, and economically.
Britannia metal, hardware and plywood
dimensions variable :
a - Attendant (Max), 87.5 x 40 x 4.5 cm
b - Attendant (Molly), 77 x 39 x 3.5 cm
c - Attendant (Jake), 72 x 54 x 5.5 cm
d - Attendant (Sam), 55 x 70 x 4.5 cm
e - tree 1, 60 x 22 x 13 cm
f - tree 2, 53 x 14 x 14 cm
g - tree 3, 68.5 x 18 x 14 cm
h - box 1, 40 x 40 x 40 cm
i - box 2, 40 x 20 x 20 cm
j - box 3, 40 x 40 x 40 cm
k - box 4, 80 x 20 x 20 cm
l - box 5, 40 x 20 x 20 cm
m - box 6, 80 x 20 x 20 cm
n - box 7, 40 x 40 x 40 cm
o - box 8, 40 x 40 x 40 cm
p - box 9, 20 x 20 x 40 cm
q - box 10, 20 x 20 x 80 cm
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Contemporary Collection Benefactors 2013 with the assistance of Peter Braithwaite, Andrew & Cathy Cameron, Michael Hobbs, Judy Soper, Alenka Tindale
Not on display
© Caroline Rothwell
Where the work was made
Shown in 2 exhibitions
Referenced in 3 publications
Megan Backhouse., The Age, 'Caroline Rothwell: borderlands', Melbourne, 06 Oct 2012, n.pag. (illus.).
Anne Loxley, Caroline Rothwell: borderlands, Melbourne, 2012, n.pag. (colour illus.). online catalogue viewed 10.09.2013, http://archive.tolarnogalleries.com/archive/Caroline%20Rothwell %20Borderlands%202012/
Tolarno Galleries (Compilator), Caroline Rothwell: borderlands, Melbourne, 2012, n.pag. (illus.). cat.no. 9; priced $48,000