Merrin Eirth

Oil paint is a fleshy thing with ethereal tendencies and therein lies a poetic narrative well suited to my purposes.

Titles of my pictures intentionally offer important clues, fusing literary references with observations from everyday experience. Rather than a description of the images, my titles are focused on core ideas and strategies driving the work. The surrealist mindset and Theatre of the Absurd have particular relevance.

Working on a small scale provides me with perfect rarefied conditions needed to distil dense content with sensibility and purpose, wit and provocation. Intimate contact with the picture space provides an opportunity for viewers to connect with the details and herein we are more likely to have a personal exchange of ideas.

A further strategy appreciates the understanding that condensed environments allow issues to be explored with special intensity, the mental space is fully occupied and there is nowhere for anyone to hide.

My pictures tickle the senses with wry humour. Whether comical, stoic, charismatic, or just plain ordinary, inanimate and animated subjects play out their serial absurdities, like performers in a one act play. Some of my paintings are monologues and others require the ensemble, nevertheless, the characters parody themselves, pursuing their own rationale, or lack of it, and sometimes they will disturb us as deeply as they disturb themselves.

Ideas that motivate me are found in ambiguous zones. Peculiarities poke holes in simplified views of humanness and they do not fit neatly into our story book fantasies. When gaps in our thinking make nonsense of the rules we construct, there is mischief indeed and humour afoot. Lateral interpretation is preferred. I invite the viewer to play their own role in the construction of relevant meaning.

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Exhibition history (selected)
2023 My Theatre of Errors, Tacit Art, Melbourne
2011 Docks Hearts, NewQuay Gallery, Melbourne
2007 Research and Respond, Victorian Tapestry Workshop, Melbourne
Feel, Dianne Tanzer Gallery, Melbourne
Trust Me, Dianne Tanzer Gallery, Melbourne
Toxic Tease and Other Obsessions, Benalla Art Gallery
2005 Les Petites Morts, Dianne Tanzer Gallery, Melbourne
2004 Toxic Tease, Dianne Tanzer Gallery, Melbourne
2003 Black Tomato-Empathic Spaces, Health Arts at the Royal Melbourne Hospital
Lucky, Dianne Tanzer Gallery, Melbourne
2002 Black Tomato, Span Galleries, Melbourne
Euphoric Slumber: Mother’s Reprieve and Kissing VerityPlatform, Melbourne
Primary Narcissism and the Sexed Maternal BodyLinden Gallery, Melbourne
1997 Kissing Pussy, Latrobe College of Art and Design, Melbourne
1995 Eight Licks Nine, Celf Gallery, Sydney


2023 SUBSTRATE 23, Tacit Art, Melbourne
Bound Pigment, Tacit Art, Melbourne
The Last Picture Show, Duck Rabbit Gallery. Sydney
2022 TACIT Still Life Prize, Tacit Art, Melbourne
ANL Maritime Art Prize, Melbourne
Apropos, Duck Rabbit Gallery, Sydney
The Dutch Project, WestEnd Art Space, Melbourne
WRAP, East Gippsland Art Gallery. Bairnsdale
2021 Waverley Art Prize, Sydney
Lethbridge Small Scale Art Award, Brisbane
Wyndham Art Prize, Melbourne
2017 Art 150 – 9 x 5, Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Melbourne
Bah Humbug, D11, Melbourne
Pursuit, Singapore Art Fair
Pursuit, Melbourne Art Fair
2012 Contemporary Australian Drawing 2, University of the Arts, London
2008 Bias Bound, Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, Melbourne
2005 Warrnambool Contemporary Art Prize, Warrnambool
City of Hobart Art Prize, Hobart City Art Gallery
The Art of Collaboration, Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Singapore
Banyule Works on Paper Award, Melbourne
ANL Maritime Art Prize, Melbourne
2004 Sticks and Stones, Academy Gallery, University of Tasmania, Launceston
The Alice Prize, Alice Springs
2003 Robert Jacks Drawing Prize, Bendigo Art Gallery
Sleeps With Angels – Sex and Death, Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, Melbourne
Niliiumbik Art Award, Melbourne
2002 Transit Narratives, Le Venezie, Italy