Jess Bradford, An Image of a Tiger

Galerie pompom, Sydney

Art Exhibition previously on at Galerie pompom in New South Wales, Australia.
From Wednesday 17 October 2018 to Sunday 11 November 2018

Jess Bradford, An Image of a Tiger image Jess Bradford, An Image of a Tiger image Jess Bradford, Haw Par Villa #5 (Shepherd with Goats) image Jess Bradford, Haw Par Villa Rock Study #22 image

Published by Galerie pompom on Saturday 20 October 2018.
Contact the publisher.

An Image of a Tiger is an exhibition by Singapore-born Sydney-based artist Jess Bradford, which uses a Chinese cultural theme park called The Tiger Balm Garden to explore cultural identity and representation. In her first solo show with Galerie Pompom, Bradford presents a series of miniature photorealist paintings and ceramic sculptures based on photographic documents and experiences of the park.
The Tiger Balm Garden depicts traditional Chinese myths, history and folklore with painted concrete sculptures and dioramas, set within fabricated grottos and mountainscapes.  Having visited the park as a child, the artist now uses this site to explore her ambivalent connection to Singaporean-Chinese culture. She considers the site from both a personal and critical perspective, examining how the Garden relates to broader narratives of cultural and national identity.
Built in Singapore in the 1930s by the Chinese-Burmese family behind the medicated ointment ‘Tiger Balm’, the Garden was intended as a place to educate the public on traditional Chinese morals and values.  In the 1980s, the Garden was acquired by the Singaporean Government during a period of concentrated governmental debate around national identity—marked by a renewed focus on Asian values.  In the 1990s, it was revamped into a commercial venture called ‘Dragon World’, premised on the idea of an ‘Asian Disneyland’. Ultimately, this was unsuccessful and the Garden was returned back into a public park.
Over the years, sculptures have been added or removed, modified or relocated; often altering the intended meaning or affect of the dioramas and the park itself.  Bradford takes this as a metaphor of how heritage can be lost, misinterpreted or can change over time.  Similarly, in her work she uses cropped images of dioramas, decontextualising aspects of the tableaux to leave the viewer with ambiguous images. These paintings of found family photographs are nestled amongst ceramic sculptures that replicate the Garden’s faux mountainscapes. The final installation mimics the winding and wandering pathways of The Garden’s manufactured landscape. 
Jess Bradford (b. Singapore, 1987) has held solo exhibitions at Firstdraft and MOP Projects, and is a 2018 Parramatta Artists Studios resident. She completed a Master of Fine Arts at Sydney College of the Arts in 2016. Bradford’s work has been included in curated group shows at Delmar Gallery (2017), Bathurst Regional Art Gallery (2015), Fairfield Museum & Gallery (2014) and Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest (2013).