The Ryan Sisters at Noosa Regional Gallery

‘One + One = Three: Natalie Ryan, Pip Ryan and The Ryan Sisters’ presents more than 60 works created in the past 15 years from sisters Natalie and Pip Ryan who have individual artistic practices which span drawing, watercolour, sculpture, and installation, as well as their collaborative work as The Ryan Sisters that delve into the ‘surreal, the kooky and the macabre’.

The alchemy of two practices giving birth to a third is the magic explored in this exhibition, it celebrates each artist as well as the dialogue between the sisters and how they are a soundboard to one another.

The Ryan Sisters, Gruesome Twosome, 2017, resin, fiberglass, jumper, leggings and socks, 235 x 120 x 144cm. Darebin Art Prize. Photo by Nicola Dracoulis.

Michael Brennan, Gallery Director Noosa Regional Gallery, says while the duo consider horror and the macabre it’s important to note they do so with a pervasive sense of play and humour. He explains their artwork and this show conveys both ‘The value of life and the mystery of death. These ideas are met with inquisitiveness rather than dread, often unpacked with a whimsy and wit that manages to still preserve a reverence and regard for the human, animal and hybrid beings that they turn their attention to.’

Dr Vinvent Alessi comments on the nature of their collaboration as deeply personal, strengthened by ‘experiences, memories, family and time spent together.’ Not only is this the stuff of sisterhood but also indicative of their shared experiences in life and with media. In their formative years they delighted in The Brothers Grimm as well as Jim Henson’s puppetry and sci-fi films such as Labyrinth, Return to Oz, The NeverEnding Story and Alien, Alessi notes. ‘The personal is the anchor point for all three practices’ Alessi continues, ‘the logic borrowed from horror films, itself personal, becomes the vehicle for the artists to shape their aesthetic and presentation of work as well as to confront personal fears and anxieties.’

The Ryan Sisters, Lights Out, 2015, wax, steel, candelabras, battery operated candles, fabric, wood. Photo: Lucy Parakhina

The body, mind and the medicalised body not only in form and feeling, but also in their play with materiality, is an important feature of their work and the show. All things combined consider the precariousness of life and joy to be found in living it. Art can be transcendent as well as a way to return to ourselves, to loop back around and confront the difficult reality of life – our mortality.

The show is on view until 30 October at Noosa Regional Gallery.