Jude Rae

Australia, b.1956

SL 145

  • 2003
  • Oil on linen
  • Purchased, 2005
  • Reproduced with permission
  • 1070 x 1300mm
  • 2005/079

The vases, fruit, books and flowers we might expect to inhabit a conventional still life are nowhere to be seen in Jude Rae’s SL 145. Instead, she has loaded her composition with an unusual selection of objects that, while still domestic in origin, bristle with implied danger and the threat of imminent combustion. Gas canisters and a handheld fire extinguisher are braced in an uneasy cluster against a dizzyingly ornate wallpaper backdrop – ready, it seems, for some disastrous event that is yet to unfold. Jude has described her practice as “a series of material experiments with tradition and perception” and her thoughtful challenges to the conventions of the still life are grounded not only in an appreciation of the genre, but in an extensive practical knowledge of the discipline.

(Perilous: Unheard Stories from the Collection, 6 August 2022- )

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • I See Red, 5 December 2007 - 23 November 2008

    When the fire gets just too hot, it’s good to see a fire extinguisher. Curling wallpaper patterns look a bit like flames, but there’s no real danger here. What about the other bottles containing their dangerous gases? It’s a relief to know that this is a ‘still life’ painting, and that any hidden danger has been tightly bottled up and kept inside.

  • Since 1996 Jude Rae has produced a series of still-life studies of china, glassware, bottles and books that explore the idea that things are not always as they first appear. The objects in SL 145, such as a gas bottle and a fire extinguisher in front of ornate wallpaper, are unusual subject matter for a still-life. Rae’s feathery application of thin pigments on linen recalls old master paintings, but despite her precise attention to detail there is an absence of narrative and an air of secrecy to the composition.

    Rae was born in Australia in 1956 and graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1980. She later gained a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Canterbury in 1992. Rae was artist in residence in 1988 at the Cite Internationale des Arts in France as part of the Australia Council Paris Residency. She lives and works in Sydney. (2006 label)