eX de Medici was born in the Riverina town of Coolamon in NSW in 1959 and was raised in Canberra, where she continues to live and work. While studying fine art at Canberra School of Art she became immersed in the capital’s punk and experimental art scene; reflected in a practice encompassing performance, installation and photography, aspects of which she continues to return to today. In 1988, with the assistance of an Australia Council for the Arts Overseas Development Grant, de Medici travelled to Los Angeles to study with renowned tattooist Kari Barber. Given this unusual kind of ‘professional development’, the grant was the subject of some controversy when awarded and was debated in the Senate Estimates Committee. Despite demands that she return the funds, de Medici was able to keep the grant as an extension of her practice in experimental mediums (photocopy, computer-generated imagery, installation and performance). Tattooing and artmaking have remained interrelated aspects of her practice since that time. The artist’s involvement in tattooing, and in a sub-culture replete with its own language of signs, continues to underpin the complex iconography of her work today.
After seeing the watercolours of botanical illustrator Ferdinand Bauer (1760-1826) in the exhibition An Exquisite Eye: The Australian Flora and Fauna Drawings 1801-1820 of Ferdinand Bauer, de Medici began producing her own works in this medium. The artist’s series of four monumentally scaled images that sparked this radical departure in her practice – Blue (Bower/Bauer), 1998-2000; Red (Colony), 1999-2000; The Theory of Everything, 2005 and Live the (big black) dream, 2006, were initially produced as a reaction to John Howard’s years as Prime Minister of Australia (1996-2007). de Medici turned to watercolour—the most conservative form of communication she could think of—to address her concerns around the ultra-conservatism of this period, and the broader implications of their impact on the nation’s political discourse. Since that time, the issues addressed in her work have broadened to include the ongoing impacts of colonisation, political and economic power, and the veracious and reverberating effects of global capitalism and human greed.
In 2000, de Medici received an Australia Council for the Arts Visual Arts and Craft Award to undertake a residency at the CSIRO Entomology Division where she studied and worked with the Australian National Insect Collection. She was Artist Fellow at the CSIRO from 2000-08, and has continued to collaborate with taxonomists and evolutionists Dr Marianne Horak and Ted Edwards since that time. de Medici was awarded the Australian Print Workshop Collie Print Trust Fellowship in 2006 and was Australian Official War Artist in 2009, where she was commissioned to observe the peacekeeping activities of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in the Solomon Islands. Travel continues to inform the artist’s practice and most recently, several trips to Iran have heightened the influence of Persian history and culture on her work.
eX de Medici’s work is represented in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia and most State galleries, and she has exhibited extensively within Australia and internationally.download pdf