Bee-stung lips is the first major survey exhibition of Barbara Hanrahan’s prolific 30-year printmaking career that was set in motion in 1960 and ended with her untimely death at the age of 52. Characterised by playfully complex narratives that draw on both personal experience and fantasy, her works are fearlessly direct and unashamedly decorative in style.
This exhibition considers several overarching themes that emerge from her oeuvre: sex, beauty and the stage; domestic comforts and anxieties; becoming plant, becoming animal; and celestial bodies and the afterlife. Here, mystical and earthly realms collide with concepts of time and mortality. Hanrahan connects sexuality and desire with dreaming and spirituality, and links the farthest star to the humblest garden bee to make works that speak of the fragility of human existence.
Acknowledging the 30-year anniversary of the artist’s passing, Bee-stung lips draws on South Australian public and private collections to celebrate the breadth and depth of her practice. The exhibition features some 180 works made in her town of birth Adelaide, as well as London and Melbourne. This showing exemplifies Hanrahan’s mastery and innovation across mediums including woodcuts, linocuts, screenprints, lithographs, etchings and drypoint, as well as rarely-seen drawings, paintings and collages.