A resource site for visual art teachers and secondary students completing their HSC in the Visual Arts
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 “
“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)
THE CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK: