Mona Ryder

Life Art with Mona Ryder

Image source: Contributed

Her eyes and heart see art in every corner of domestic life –  Mona Ryder makes us question the way we live and will challenge us to find beauty in what we once thought was mundane. Carlie Wacker previews an exciting exhibition and artist-in-residence program that is bound to inspire.

Mona Ryder spent her early years in Maroochydore and I picture her pirouetting along the river on Bradman Avenue collecting seashells to weave into some magical creation. For more than four decades this artist, now based in Brisbane, has been using everyday objects to create thought-provoking and theatrical installation art before it even became a movement.

Art Curator Beth Jackson recently shared her experiences of Mona’s work with Saffron Drew, the Creative Development/ RADF Officer for Sunshine Coast Council with the result seeing Mona’s exhibition included as part of the Fabric – Slow Fashion, Artful Living program.


“I recall seeing the exhibition Mona Ryder: A Survey curated by Dr Nancy Underhill at the University Art Museum, University of Queensland back in 1984,” said Bec. “I was just a student studying art history and this show made a deep impression on me. It was the first exhibition I had seen that I could describe as feminist – expressing a woman’s embodied voice in a bold materiality.”

For Beth, the painted wooden ironing boards and other sculptural assemblages that incorporated domestic items were radical.

“This was before the rise of installation art and these strange forms that spoke of home life, child rearing, sexuality, interpersonal politics, and emotional work were amazing,” she said. “I had seen Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party and Georgia O’Keefe’s magnificent flower paintings in books, but this was right here in Brisbane… truly inspirational to this young woman and budding feminist.”

After viewing her work you will certainly reach inward to assess your own thoughts and feelings about domestic life, the future, equality and sexuality but you will also find a sense of wonder and humour that will overcome your everyday household chores.

You may be inspired to find cheeky and artistic ways to reinvent everyday items into beautiful artworks of your own. You see, even the experience of sharing oysters with friends and family has the potential to become an extraordinary statement and piece of art (if you think like Mona).

Fragile Gardens is her latest exhibition and is a highlight within Sunshine Coast Council’s Fabric 2020/2021 program. Expect to see sculpture and installation pieces drawing inspiration from domestic life, personal experiences and uncertainties of the future.

There is an intimacy you will feel viewing her work – it is an experience that will draw you into her process and make you feel the touch of needle and thread after many hours hand stitching her breathtaking red dress. You will sense the laughter and banter that would have occurred over years of moules marinière [shell collecting] suppers with family and friends, resulting in a spectacular mussel shell chandelier.

For those that have followed Mona Ryder’s almost 50-year art journey you will appreciate that conversations continue from her early works to her current exhibition and underlying it all is a sense of humour that you will find so endearing that you will feel the need to meet this lady.

Mona Ryder ArtThe good news isthat you can! The exhibition opens on Saturday 13 March at the Old Ambulance Station in Nambour and runs until 17 April with Mona in residence on Wednesday 17 March and Friday 16 April.

You can also join Mona for Coffee and Conversation on Tuesday 16 March from 10-11am. This event hosted by Bec Mac
is a great chance to get inside the mind of this amazing artist. Alternatively, there is a Long Table Dinner on Tuesday 16 March from 6-8pm.

Mona Ryder’s 2021 Fragile Gardens exhibition will transport you into a realm of art, theatre, domesticity, and curiosity, with a nod to the past and questions of the future you will enjoy this passage through an art installation of tactile, recycled everyday materials reimagined.

Fabric – Slow Fashion, Artful Living is a series of events and exhibitions showcasing the regions resourceful and ethically focussed artists, designers and change-makers.

This program is now in its third and final year bringing art and sustainability together in a curated program of design and artful lifestyle activities.

About the Author /

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Carlie Wacker has worked in the media entertainment industry for over 20 years. From television to stage and radio she has been lucky enough to work her way around the whole country. Over the last 10 years she has styled and choreographed innovative fashion parades and talent shows and brings her love for fashion and entertainment as our Fashion Editor. She is also an MC, voice-over artist and radio announcer.

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