Joanna Braithwaite has been exhibiting regularly for over 20 years. Her work was recently the subject of the exhibition Significant Others at The New Zealand Portrait Gallery, Wellington & Sarjeant Gallery, Wanganui, New Zealand (2011). She exhibits regularly both here and in New Zealand, and other solo exhibitions include Animalia, La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre, Bendigo (2007) and the major touring survey exhibition Wonderland, Dunedin Public Art Gallery & Christchurch Art Gallery, New Zealand (2005).
Joanna employs techniques of formal portraiture where the sitter’s attire or accoutrements can suggest something about them which otherwise would remain inexplicit. The subjects of her recent paintings are birds who wear tokens, headscarves or jewellery which make reference to Australian history or culture, providing a lens through which to view the otherwise simply avian subject.
Braithwaite has focused on species of birds sighted by early explorers of Australia, as well as interweaving cultural ideas and artefacts with historical references. Beyond these signs and symbols lie further questions about the identities and implications of Braithwaite’s ‘sitters’, and it is the artist’s typically insightful humanizing of these subjects that invites further investigation. The different accessories worn by each subject encourage us to ascribe particular characteristics to them, revealing as much about our own tendencies than that of the bird in question.
Braithwaite’s work is regularly included in group exhibitions including the Sulman Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia (2011); Archibald Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia (2008); and the Portia Geach Memorial Award, S.H. Irvin Gallery, Sydney (2011, 2010). Braithwaite’s work is held in numerous public collections including Tweed River Art Gallery, New South Wales; Christchurch Art Gallery, Christchurch, New Zealand; Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand; and James Wallace Collection, Auckland, New Zealand.
General credit: Courtesy the artist and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney.