Jacqui Stockdale explores the magic and luck associated with talismans, a notion inspired by her recent trip to Mexico as artist-in-residence with Circus Oz, where she witnessed the Day of the Dead celebrations and the infamous Lucha Libre Mexican Wrestling matches. ‘Mexican talismans combine Christian and pagan symbols as an all-purpose protector of one’s life and livelihood. I became interested in how these inanimate objects are believed to possess knowledge, magical powers, or to evoke supernatural spirits. I was fascinated by the continual presence of masks, animal motifs, and life/death motifs, such as the skeleton. They seem to play such an integral role in enriching the meaning of day-to-day life.’ Jacqui Stockdale, 2008 Paper mache carnival masks, costumes, antique folk dolls and gangly skeletons collected on her travels become subjects in her work, placed in quirky still life compositions or worn as props by the subjects in her portraits. Stockdale says she delights in creating scenes that playfully utilise these objects, inventing whimsical, hybrid characters and setting up unexpected arrangements. As playful and colourful as these scenes may appear, much like the tales of the Brothers Grimm, they remain potentially macabre and threatening.
‘Characteristically of Stockdale, these works are an astonishing combination of playful exuberance and deadly seriousness, of an innate sense of theatre heightened by masterly painting ability.’ Victoria Hammond, 2005