Artistic mutations

The works of Australian Patricia Piccinini were the clear highlight of the art exhibitions at this year’s Galway International Arts Festival. Here’s why:

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. A journalist for more than 20 years, he's been travelling the world since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.


Patricia Piccinini exhibition, Galway, Ireland

What is this world that Patricia Piccinini has imagined?

The first reaction could be to dismiss it as fantasy. Yet it seems so real. Real, not just because of the lifelike figures that appear before me, but because of the scenes they find themselves in.

Perhaps it is some kind of future. A future where animals from another planet – or mutations from our own – live in domestic peace with humans.

Or perhaps it’s the present. A symbolic representation of the connection we have with… with… well, I’m not sure. It probably depends on your interpretation.

Patricia Piccinini exhibition artworks

This exhibition by the Australian artist Patricia Piccinini is one of the highlights of the Galway International Arts Festival. Although there are several excellent galleries operating for the festival period, the crowds are clearly drawn here, with more than 25,000 people coming to see her creations.

It’s not hard to see why this collection is so popular. I think it’s partly because it’s unusual – but also because it’s so relatable, despite the surreal imagery it uses.

The boy with the strange creature resting in his lap, for example. The message that comes through is of love and trust. It’s not about the creature, it’s about the bond between the two of them.

Or the motorbikes that have been given a level of personification. Their metallic skin seems so unnatural, yet their pose is so familiar. Intertwined, in love, in safety, in comfort.

Patricia Piccinini exhibition artworks

I’m not sure if the embracing bikes and the mutant creatures would coexist in this world of Piccinini’s creation. Is there some future or alternate universe where they would naturally be just metres away from each other?

Perhaps they’ve been placed together simply for the purposes of exhibition. They are both creations of the same mind, but not necessarily of the same world.

Patricia Piccinini challenges the audience with her work but I don’t think she tries to confront. It’s interesting to watch the crowds who come to the exhibition (their interactions with the art is almost as interesting as the art itself).

When you see a young boy – who stands as high as a mutant boy sculpture – observe the piece with a contemplative smile, everything starts to fit together. The number of families who have come along is telling in itself.

An art gallery may not be the sort of place you would normally take children but it is their innocent imagination that is portrayed in many of these works.

Patricia Piccinini exhibition artworks

Let me now share with you some of my photos of this exhibition at the Galway International Arts Festival. Keep in mind that these are three dimensional pieces and my images will have trouble doing them justice.

If you ever have a chance to see Patricia Piccinini’s work for yourself, I hope you take it.

Patricia Piccinini exhibition artworks
Patricia Piccinini exhibition artworks
Patricia Piccinini exhibition artworks
Patricia Piccinini exhibition artworks
Patricia Piccinini exhibition artworks
Patricia Piccinini exhibition artworks
Patricia Piccinini exhibition artworks
Patricia Piccinini exhibition artworks
Patricia Piccinini exhibition artworks
Patricia Piccinini exhibition artworks


I would recommend staying in Galway’s city centre, or down towards Salthill for some cheaper options.


There’s a friendly vibe at the fabulous Kinlay Hostel Eyre Square, which is conveniently located and has a good free breakfast.


The affordable rooms at Wards Hotel are part of a local pub, so you’ll get a true Irish experience here!


The colourful Hyde Hotel is lots of fun but also offers a very comfortable and relaxing stay.


The historic building of the Skeffington Arms Hotel hosts large rooms in a prime location.

Time Travel Turtle was supported by Tourism Ireland as part of the Must Love Festivals project but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.

6 thoughts on “Artistic mutations”

    • I know – so much detail in them. They are extremely lifelike when you see them in person. I find them a little scary too, although the more I look at them the more I feel warmth and love.

  1. Hello Micheal,
    As an interior designer I have to constantly procure works of art for my clients and I have now turned into an art lover by force of habit. When I was browsing the web for abstract art, I stumbled upon your blog and loved it. Keep up with the awesome job!


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