Photography’s dichotomous role as both truth-teller and perpetrator of fictions is of endless interest to Hicks. She embraces its capability to both create and corrupt the process of seduction and consumption.
Hicks is best known for her technically and formally meticulous photographs, usually of single subjects ambiguously deployed in a flat, neutral space. In these pictures, which combine the languages of advertising and ‘art photography’ with the strategies of Surrealism and post-photography, Hicks teases a range of categorical distinctions or thresholds: perfection and imperfection; legibility and illegibility; strangeness and familiarity; beauty and the grotesque; seduction and repulsion.’ (Shaune Lakin, Hippy and the Snake, catalogue essay, 2011)
Hicks’ works allude to infinite meanings but resist giving a clear message. In ‘The Hand that Feeds’ it’s unclear if the interaction between the girl and the crow is playful, threatening or dangerous. In ‘Bird Fingers’ a young girl with bird skulls as finger puppets .The compelling beauty of the work is unsettled by its muted palette and the guarded, wary gaze of the young girl. The playfulness usually associated with puppets gives way to a hint of portent as if the toys are taking on a life of their own.
I’m obsessed with the idea of creating images that look perfect on the outside, or aesthetically pleasing, that on closer inspection or reflection reveal ambiguous sub-text, explore issues associated with perfection, consumerism, beauty, or images that unsettles, or don’t deliver a satisfying feeling, or leave the viewer feeling a bit empty. (Petrina Hicks, Eyemazing magazine, 2010)