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Treasure and Tragedy by Susan Badcock


Review by Pip Goldsbury


In her latest series, Treasure and Tragedy, Susan Badcock turns storyteller. However, her tales are no happily ever after. Instead they are darkly despairing, raising more questions than answering and reminiscent of Janet Frame’s rubbish dump from Owls Do Cry – a stricken symbol of treasure and tragedy.


In an extension of her Road Kill works, Susan continues to photograph and hand colour the corpses of birds. However, in Treasure and Tragedy they are found birds, deceased in unexplained and unexpected ways, but not road kill. Intuitively, Susan has paid tribute to the birds, her delicate and detailed application of dye and oil immortalising them in an unexpected obituary, a Memento mori of the twenty first century. Remember, you must die.

© Susan Badcock 2020

The birds are the treasure, the elevated fairy tale princesses of the story. However, in a new twist for Badcock, she has paired each bird with an item of monochromatic rubbish. Discarded and dumped, the sculptural litter replicates the form of the bird, an echo of the shape and the shadow and a murky play on our societal perceptions that force bleak questions of relevancy.


Society is questioned and wastefulness is probed. The splendour of life has been relegated to discarded trash, dead and forgotten alongside the ugly permanence of a landscape tainted with the crusts of manufactured impurities.