I want to break free
I want to break free contends with the precarious domain of the home. It depicts a series of seemingly ordinary domestic scenes, yet, in contrast to our imaginings of household bliss and security, ambiguity, danger and even outright threat are played out in theatrical ways. Deliberate painterly devices toy with the boundaries of truth in visual representation, questioning modern urban aspirations as potential deceptions and entrapments amid our ongoing pursuit of freedom.
The series was produced for a solo exhibition in 2006 at Karen Woodbury Gallery, and included in the exhibition The last thing I remember… curated by Kyla McFarlane, which toured from University of Sydney Art Gallery to Switchback Gallery at Monash University Gippsland, Victoria, in 2008.
Extracts from Kyla McFarlane’s essay for the exhibition.
In the struggle of our daily existence, the home can be our comfort or our cage. In Lily Hibberd’s recent series of paintings I want to break free, our domestic surroundings are figured as a precarious, even dangerous realm. Hibberd’s subjects tussle with the trappings of their domestic environment as if their life depends on it and, in some cases, the effect is catastrophic.
Hibberd is an artist who has always held a fascination for film. And, in many ways, these small dramatic scenes allude to filmic genres. The shower scene in Psycho, the domestic obsessions in American Beauty, a half-remembered scene from Ghostbusters and a myriad of teen slasher films sit somewhere in the latent, collective memory of these works. And Hibberd prompts us to think cinematically, providing us with an establishing shot of a house photographed at night...
However, these paintings are not simply scenes from an unmade film of suburban lives. Solid skeins of paint leak across the picture plane from the edge of each large canvas, acting as a kind of theatrical curtain that simultaneously reveals and entraps each scene. This rupturing of painted space reminds us that these scenes exist in the field of representation and are therefore subject to its limitations and tropes.
A suite of smaller paintings in the series continues to unravel the psychological intensity of these object relations. For instance, an isolated yellow rubber glove, set in a pink colour field, is attended by the text ‘every time I think of you I cry’… In these works, the most insignificant of household objects become containers of meaning – receptacles for anxieties, desires and imaginings.
The catalogue for this exhibition, including Kyla McFarlane’s essay “Object Relations: I want to break free”, is available here to download.