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Heather B. Swann: Leda and the Swan is an exhibition of new sculptures and paintings by contemporary artist Heather B. Swann, who is renowned for her large-scale, meticulously crafted and highly expressive sculptural forms.

Swann’s new installation at TarraWarra Museum of Art is a dream-like work, woven out of her own contemporary reading of the myth of Leda and the Swan and emerging from artist residencies in Rome and Athens. The artist’s close study of Graeco-Roman antiquities and emulation of the forms of classical figurative sculpture is embodied in her use of fragmentation, repetition and mismatched scale.

Taking its name from the story of Leda and the Swan, the work invites audiences to explore the actions, emotions and social-moral codes of this ancient, ambiguous and chilling narrative. At the same time, the work recognises and salutes the historical achievement (and presence in the adjacent gallery spaces) of Sidney Nolan, Australia’s great modernist myth-maker.

Heather B. Swann’s work resonates with the stories and symbols, forms and materials of the past. This is the direct result of a rich experience of and delight in historical museum-culture, art and artefacts. At the same time, her work responds to intimate sensations, emotions and contemplation while also being attuned to the crises of our troubled times. Her project is to translate these fleeting experiences and observations into form, into sculpture and painting. 

This new work is conceived as an installation, a singular spatial construct in which the arrangement of forms shapes the empty air of a room, creating delicate and invisible pressure. This tension frames Swann’s contemporary reading of the ancient myth of Leda and the Swan. Enriched by the recent experiences of residencies in Rome and Athens and informed by close observation of Archaic and Classical antiquities, she retells the story through a grammar of fragmentation, repetition and mismatched scale.

The artist creates a place of stillness with room for reflection. Reimagining the Leda story in three configurations, she reaffirms the fundamental enigma of myth as well as its cumulative cultural layers and variations. Swann explores the actions, emotions and social-moral codes of this ancient, ambiguous and chilling narrative, and more broadly the fraught coexistence of chaos and order, barbarity and civilisation. From Leda’s predicament Swann distils an encounter and a language of force and resistance: tooth and nail.


TarraWarra Museum of Art

313 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road

Wurundjeri Country

Healesville VIC 3777 Australia


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