HSC Visual Art Resources

A resource site for visual art teachers and secondary students completing their HSC in the Visual Arts


American Sex / Funky Beat Machine 2009
pen, ink and mica on paper, diptych
114.0 x 249.0 cm

eX de Medici
200.000 d (g) one in a Flash 2008
Watercolour on paper
110 x 114 cm

eX de Medici, born in 1959 in the Riverina district of New South Wales, lives and works in Canberra.

eX de Medici incorporates both her tattooing techniques and previous fine art studies into her artmaking practice to produce  drawings and watercolour images that explore  environmental issues and power representations through the merging depictions of  nature studies, insects, skulls, military hardware and weaponry, into incredibly meticulous, detailed artworks. Medici’s artworks pay a contemporary tribute to the vanitas tradition, whilst being  investigations of  the human interventions and the relationship between life and death.

Medici started her fine art career studying at the Australian National University in painting before taking off to Los Angeles for an apprenticeship in tattooing in 1989. After returning to Australia, Medici began to create artworks as a reaction to the political landscape and social climate around her whilst continuing as a tattooist. During1998 Medici saw the touring exhibition, ‘An Exquisite Eye: The Australian Flora and Fauna Drawings’ this exhibition heavily influenced her desire to work with natural history and watercolours, challenging the notion that watercolour is predominately an arts and crafts form of art making rather than fine art.

At the end of the 2000, eX de Medici received an Australia Council Visual Arts and Craft Award for research, undertaking a residency at the  CSIRO Entomology Division where she studied the Australian National Insect Collection. As an Artist Fellow, Medici got full access to the entire collection of insects, both classified, extinct and unclassified specimens. Through the residency, Mediciproduced a series (54 watercolour studies) of unclassified and extinct microlepidoptera (tiny moths). These studies of moths specimens reveal themselves to be fitted with ordinance and body amour, becoming new wave bombers and fighting machines. each moth took over 90 hours to complete, viewing the original specimen through a microscope as as to duplicate original patterns.

Medici’s artworks are time consuming on  some taking on average taking 3-4 months to complete, such as Porno Image 2005 (see further below). Whilst wall mural sized images can take several years. More recent works have been made whilst as an official war artist in the Solomon Islands and Iran, these works containing motifs such as  helmets and Australian weaponry.

“Tattooing taught me how to be patient. But it’s also my relief from the art world. I like the dynamic that exists with the person I’m working on.”

– eX de Medici

“I’ve worked with the skull for years – it is the ultimate signifier in tattooing  and I was always quite fascinated at that time with what the skull means. It references Vanitas painting and a lot of ideas that are pre-determined in art.”

– eX de Medici

“I wanted to use a language which they understand, which is,in your face, it’s plain as day, nothing difficult, because they’re not up for anything difficult. I wanted to do things they can get.”

– eX de Medici

“They bring a contemporary perspectlve to the vanitas tradition they are extraordinarily layered compositions that employ motifs and symbols both historically loaded and yet completely current And her exquisite versions of natural
history illustrations have been created at a time when humans are profoundly reconsidering our relationships with the natural world “

-Deborah Clark

“Watercolour is not considered a serious medium but I have always been attracted to things deemed not interesting or unworthy in the high status stakes: biro, coloured pencil, photocopy, tattooing, watercolour, natural history.”

– eX de Medici (2006)

eX de Medici
Take #5 2005
watercolour and metallic pigment on paper
100 x 114 cm

eX de Medici
Gun(n)s ‘n Styx 2005 (detail)
114.0 x 178.5 cm



  • eX de Medici, studied painting at Australian National University
  • studies tattooing in Los Angles
  • practices as a tattooist in both America and Australia
  • concerned with environmental factors and the political landscape within Australia


  • watercolour and drawing on fine art paper
  • small and large scale works, some mural scale
  • motifs such as skulls, weaponry and natural histories
  • created from personal response


  • respond to the use of violent themes, imagery and weaponry
  • marvel at the intricacy and level of detail in the artworks
  • access through both public and private galleries and museums
  • may agree or disagree with Medici’s political viewpoints and concerns


  • influenced by the political and environmental climate in Australia
  • Medici influenced by touring exhibition, An Exquisite Eye: The Australian Flora and Fauna Drawings,during 1998
  • tattoo culture and history
  • CSIRO Entomology Division

eX de Medici
Porno image 2005
watercolour and metallic pigment on paper
100.0 x 114.0 cm

eX de Medici
Bullpup 2009
watercolour on paper



  • drawn to intricate detail as a sense of wonder
  • recognising familiar motifs and symbols
  • associations of war, death and violence
  • imaginative quality
  • creation of hybrid forms, insects (moths) and weaponry


  • watercolour paintings and drawings on fine art paper
  • various sizes, some mural sized
  • references tattooing techniques
  • takes several months to years to complete depending on size
  • highly detailed


  • references natural history painting
  • tattoo motifs and symbols
  • references the  Australian National Insect collection
  • political climates
  • environmental concerns
  • war


  • contemporary takes on vanitas painting and depictions of objects
  • references and reinterprets natural history paintings and insect studies
  • challenges political ideals
  • raises questions on environment, politics, war, death and survival
  • challenges the classifications of tattoo art and watercolour

eX de Medici
Cure for Pain 2010-11
watercolour on paper
114 x 415cm

eX de Medici
Australia. Special Forces (Everywhere, current) 2010
watercolour on paper
57 x 76.5cm


  • tattoo, drawing and watercolour skills required
  • concepts based on concerns over political landscape environmental concerns through representation of weaponry
  • reoccurring symbols such as skulls and guns
  • works within a studio and the CSIRO Entomology Division

eX de Medici
Baudelaire’s Rope 2007-2008
Watercolour on paper
110 x 114 cm

Tooth and claw 2009
pen, ink and mica on paper
114.0 x 521.0 cm









eX de Medici
It’s a Global World 2008
Hard-ground etching with aquatint, printed in black ink from one copper plate
76 x 56.5 cm

eX de Medici
Aegis (Respirator) International global everywhere 2010
watercolour on paper
57 x 76.5 cm


This entry was posted on 09/07/2012 by in All, Australian, Drawing, Painting.