Antoinette O’Brien’s sculptural works present an ongoing inquiry into personal memory, social structures, politics, and location. Appearing initially as portraits of singular figures, deeper investigation reveals multilayered works that respond to O’Brien’s contemplations on life, world events, and the influence of humanity on the environment. Further inspiration might come from the lives of her fellow school mums, the provocative pose of a friend, or the community dynamics she sees playing out in her town.
Constructed from multiple narratives – a complex web of internal and external worlds, familial relationships, her own mental health, and childhood recollections – the works are supported by constructed landscapes that nod to ancient mythology, dreamlike states, and O’Brien’s interest in the symbolic overlap between geological time scale to understand Earth’s strata and the mining of individual histories to get beyond a person’s surface.
Antoinette O’Brien trained in Visual Arts at the University of Tasmania (2006-2012), majoring in Printmaking and Sculpture, before undertaking further studies in Figurative Ceramics, Dry Glazing and Ceramic Sculpture at the Australian National University, National Art School and Tom Bass Sculpture School respectively. She was the winner of the 2020 Hurford Hardwood Portrait Prize, Lismore Regional Art Gallery, recipient of the 2019 Franz Porcelain Design Scholarship in Jingdezhen, China, and Finalist in the 2021 Muswellbrook Art Prize. Currently studying a Diploma in Ceramics, she won the TAFE NSW Outstanding Achievement Award in 2020, and the TAFE NSW Rising Star for Figurative Sculpture in 2018. In 2019 she undertook at studio residency at Garage Studio, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and her work has been exhibited in group shows along the east coast of Australia, and Indonesia.