Kate Beynon's work explores the journey she has taken from her birthplace in Kowloon – also known as the City of Nine Dragons – to her life in Australia. Leaving Hong Kong as a young child, she lived in Singapore, Germany and the United Kingdom before arriving in Australia in 1974. As an Australian artist with Chinese-Malaysian and Welsh heritage, Beynon’s work embraces notions of hybrid identities and fluid cross-cultural exchanges.
Blending traditional and contemporary imagery, Beynon’s distinct visual style is informed by a diverse range of pictorial traditions including European art history, Chinese painting, comic books, animation, film, graffiti, calligraphy and fashion. Her visual narratives draw upon signs and symbols from history to construct dynamic, transitional images, which celebrate the diversity and vitality of coexistence.
In 'Self-portrait with guardian spirits' she depicts herself sitting cross-legged in a half lotus position – a Buddhist mediative pose – accompanied by a large golden dragon and twin green lion-dogs. Dragons represent a positive force in both Chinese and Welsh cultures. Fierce, protective and always benevolent, they symbolise strength and good luck. The lion-dogs, or ‘fu dogs’, appear as chunky canines with pink swirly manes, their fangs displayed in flashy grins. As companions and guardians, they bear a resemblance to the artist’s own rescued staffy cross-breed. These hybrid creatures challenge the notion of ‘pure origin’, while also creating a sense of adoration and safe-guarding. The idea of protection is also reflected by the heart-shaped jade pendant worn by the artist, an amulet from her mother. It portrays an interest in auspicious charms and talismans, combined with family connections.
synthetic polymer paint on linen
170.0 x 170.0 cm stretcher
Signature & date
Signed and dated u.l. corner to top c. verso on stretcher, pencil "KATE BEYNON … 2009-10".
Contemporary Collection Benefactors 2012
© Kate Beynon
Where the work was made
Shown in 3 exhibitions
Archibald, Wynne and Sulman (2010):
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 27 Mar 2010–20 May 2010
- Goulburn Regional Art Gallery 11 Jun 2010–11 Jul 2010
- Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, Australia 22 Jul 2010–22 Aug 2010
- Tamworth Regional Gallery, Tamworth 30 Aug 2010–24 Sep 2010
- Coffs Harbour Regional Art Gallery, Coffs Harbour 04 Oct 2010–27 Oct 2010
- Muswellbrook Art Centre 04 Nov 2010–05 Dec 2010
- Shoalhaven City Arts Centre, Nowra 14 Dec 2010–18 Jan 2011
- Albury Regional Gallery, Albury 27 Jan 2011–03 Mar 2011
Kate Beynon, Frida & friends, Sutton Gallery, Fitzroy, 20 Apr 2012–19 May 2012
Carnivalesque, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 23 Jun 2018–28 Oct 2018
Referenced in 1 publication
Art Gallery of New South Wales (Editor), 2010 Archibald Prize, Sydney, 2010, (colour illus.). Highly commended; cat.no. 34