August 6, 2016


by Naomi O'Reilly

Shannon Tonkin and Patrick Zaia are SHATRICK - and they love each other.

It's that kind of ooey gooey oozy love that makes you feel all warm and tingly inside. It's just so ooey and gooey and warm and fuzzy that they want everyone else to feel it. This love just oozes out of them and gets all over ya. It oozed out of them and got all over the inside of CLUTCH's truck. But before that happened, it oozed out of them and got all over their studio. All over the cardboard they had collected. All over the junk mail and catalogues that had been delivered to their mailbox. All over the op-shop tee shirts that they knit into their baby creatures. All over the glue that holds it all together.

GORGEus is an invitation. A personal invitation from SHATRICK to YOU! They want to have you over for dinner. They have set the table – in gold silverware with the cutest little teeth and nails, soup bowls that you can pinch from their tiny ears, fruit bowls held up by their own baby cherubs and goblets that are being gobbled at the nipple. Banners have been hung. Trumpets herald your arrival. They are so excited to have you here!

Shannon and Patrick make most of these things out of paper mache. It allows them to birth their ideas into existence in an organic way. It's hard to make straight lines with paper mache, and everything has to be built up. It has to grow. Paper mache is one of those mediums that is beloved by all. You probably have a memory of trying it out in primary school. Now 'armature' artists continue to use it because their love for it never died. It's a go-to medium for people who don't love to hate art: who just love to love things. With all the bowls of fruit, bunches of grapes and loafs of bread, this dining hall is a sculptural still life. People love still life scenes - they've been doing them for ages.

GORGEus is a still life that has come to life. The setting is riddled with creatures. You're not quite sure if they are there to be eaten or if they are doing the eating, but everyone seems to be having a good time. Even the chairs are having a good time! They've had a little too much punch and now they're a bit drunk. I wouldn't try to sit on them - it looks like they can barely hold themselves up in this state. At the head of the table are your hosts, Shannon and Patrick themselves. Although, they are not themselves, they are SHATRICK. You know that feeling you get when you love someone so much you just want to eat them? You just want to gobble them up and keep them inside of you. You want to be eaten by them. You want to crawl into their mouth and disappear into their body. That's what is happening here. That's what SHATRICK is. As everything on the table is communing and being consumed - Shannon and Patrick are eating each other until they are each other - until they are SHATRICK. You're invited to participate, but it's just a sample. You can have a little bit of a nibble on their love.

This work is a lot of fun, but it's also a lot of work. SHATRICK is a practice. Shannon and Patrick look at everything and think about it all. They eat up the world around them, digest the ideas and burp them back out as visual scenes and performances. This is a labour of love. Shannon and Patrick just got back from Europe and a lot of this came from that trip. The Fountain of Neptune in Florence and Neptunbrunnen in Berlin. Monumental features in the centre of public squares that are bodies and creatures and beauty and love and sex; melded together in an orgy of consumption. Looking around this dining hall you can see the visual tropes of Renaissance art. Shannon and Patrick are working out the same ideas. It's what we're all doing - trying to work out what it means to be human. What it means to be mortal. What it means to be a self aware creature of little significance in this world. What it means to love. What it means to be of the greatest significance to another because of that love. They are working all this out while paper macheing.

I really think SHATRICK have reinvented the Brisbane ARI DIY aesthetic. Yes they do the normal thing, they make the art out of the stuff they have lying around, they exhibit it in whatever place they can find, whether that be in the back of a truck, on the internet, or burnt to a DVD. But what SHATRICK do is completely different to any emerging artist show I have ever seen. That's because their love got all over it. It has this magical medieval feel because they love fantasy. It is made out of paper mache because they love that medium. Parts are knitted together because they do that together while watching Merlin in bed. They are the parents of all these little creatures. They give birth to all these ideas. Everything is so genuine and sincere. Everything is just oozing with love.

Shannon Tonkin and Patrick Zaia are SHATRICK - and Shannon and Patrick love each other.
SHATRICK want you to sample that love.
Feel it. See it. Touch it. Taste it.
Indulge in it. Bathe in it. Feast on it.
Let it get all over ya.