Document Type

Creative Work

Publication Details

Craig Judd, Vicky Farmery, Peter J. Hughes and Kathryn Medlock, (2008), Fierce or Friendly: Humans in the Animal World, exhibition held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG), Hobart, 14 December 2007 - 6 April 2008. Download exhibition catalogue here; exhibition information from ABC News is available here; Artlink magazine review here.



Research Background

‘Fierce or Friendly: Humans in the Animal World’ was a survey exhibition that drew on Tasmania’s art and museological collections to explore human fascination with other animals.

Research contribution

The core of the exhibition was a suite of prints and paintings by Herbert Dicksee (1862- 1942) and his brother Frank Dicksee (1853-1928). A master printmaker, Herbert Dicksee, has made the largest works printed on vellum (animal skin). Frank Dicksee’s grand painting “The Avenger” 1916” features a St Michael type figure slaying a Goth. The work is a conflation of the concept of the “survival of the fittest. The exhibition also brought together ‘trophy horns’, weird and wonderful displays of taxidermy, feather muffs, fans made from humming birds as well as art and decorative arts from the 1680s to the present, alongside historical photographs, both historical and contemporary prints, paintings and sculpture that depicted animals wild, exotic and domesticated, to drew thematic connections and disconnects between past and present. Underneath the immediate use- friendly appeal of the displays were commentaries on anthropomorphism, Social Darwinism, genetic manipulation, hunting, collection, domestication, extinction and magic.

Research significance

‘Fierce or Friendly: Humans in the Animal World’, invited audiences to consider our cultural and symbolic, aesthetic and functional relationships with animals. Encompassing 5 major galleries and over 200 works Fierce or Friendly’ featured zoological specimens, art and artefacts selected from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) as well as important private collections from around Tasmania.