top of page

Helen McCullagh

Kiata Mason

          The Invitation of a Feast of Curation or an Octopus in a Milk Jug!


“That one's from a dream,” Kiata says but doesn't elaborate, that's left to me. And so I tell you the fish will cut the onion itself and swim back out to sea. And it's not even that a meal is being prepared so much as laid out raw if you want it —or on the verge of reanimation. And the bushes behind are on fire and encroaching or being kept at bay by the sea and the stream that flows under this meal of life on which we are floating. Arr—see the sky down below—stars setting into the desert of an underworld unconscious. The composition set alight by coriander green: juxtaposition of all that realism and the dream.


Kiata tells me that none of the other paintings are inspired by dreams but a careful arrangements of significant objects, creating for the viewer an empathic experience. 'There's always one thing just out of place,' she says, and this is how she draws her audience into the painting's world. This sense of disruption (I'd also call it defamiliarisation) is an opening for the viewer to imagine themselves into—and so we find an octopus in a milk jug!


For the Surrealists the archetypal image of this kind came from the French poet Comte de Lautréamont's line: "the fortuitous encounter upon a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella!"1 The juxtaposition defamiliarises both objects and the viewer's perception of reality itself; in turn giving substance and depth to the unique world existing within the frame of the painting. The careful arrangement of deeply personal objects does not offer up all the painter's secrets but rather creates in the viewer a sense of intrigue and curiosity which encourages and supports individual thinking making meaning.


So I'm thinking Bonnard, I'm thinking Roy, I'm thinking Frida. I'm thinking the flat assemblage of the stage, which is flat but deep—everything a compartmentalisation brought into conversation, blurring sharp edges with understanding.


So I'm thinking it's a feast of curation, of direction—crafting a private narrative, a narrowing into the particular object placed like a vessel for recollections, the invitation of two glasses brimming with significance, triggering in the viewer their own constellation of memories to add to the table—come take a seat it's all there waiting.


So I'm thinking Frida but it's my Frida, the black and white Frida with the carriage in the background like the one that ran her down. I'm thinking Bonnard, but it's my Bonnard seen in Paris when I was 24 and so disheveled people would drop coins in my coke can thinking I was begging. I'm thinking Shakespeare on that pillow but it's me with his words in my mouth blinded by stage lights forgetting my lines.


I can't know why the octopus is in the milk jug (if it is a milk jug at all!) but the incongruity of the image has me captured, allowing me to imagine myself the dinner party prankster hiding it under a layer of milk for an unsuspecting guest to discover. And so an empathy, a connection, a togetherness with the world of the painting is developed—I reach for the other glass, take my place amid the scene waiting for that first sucking tentacle to reveal itself.


1. Comte de Lautréamont, Les Chants De Maldoror, trans. by Guy Wernham, New York: New Directions Books, 1965. pp 263


                                         Dr Gareth Jenkins

The Dream 91 x 122.jpg

The Dream

Kiata Mason

122 x 91 cm


Acrylic on Canvas


Kiata Mason


2014-16   Master of Fine Arts (Drawing), National Art School, Sydney
2012        Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours (Drawing), National Art School
2004        Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting), National Art School

Solo Exhibitions

2019   The Theatrical Eye Muswellbrook Arts Centre, Muswellbrook NSW

2018   Treasures- An Ode to the Objects We Keep Close, curated by Amber Creswell Bell, Special Group Studios, Sydney

2017   Bea’s Table curated by Amber Creswell Bell at Saint Cloche Gallery

2016   Masters Drawing Examination Exhibition Hoff Space NAS Sydney

2012   Impressions, Japanese Gardens Gallery, Cowra
2005   Behind the scenes Manning Regional Gallery Members Gallery, Taree

Selected Group Exhibitions

2019    Memory &Landscape, A.K. Bellinger Gallery, Inverell

2019    Reflections of a fading sky, Arthouse Gallery, Sydney

2019    Riversdale Dreaming, Adelaid Perry Gallery, Sydney

2019    Calleen Art Award, Cowra Regional Art Gallery, Cowra, NSW

2019    Bayside Acquisitiive Art Prize, Bayside Art Gallery, Brighton, Victoria

2019    Outback Art Prize, Outback Regional Art Gallery, Winton, Queensland

2019    Muswellbrook Art Prize (painting section), Muswellbrook Regional Art Gallery

2018   Christmas Exhibition Part 2 A.K Bellinger Gallery, Inverell, Paddington Art Prize Finalists, Sydney, The Way We See Ourselves West                   End Art Space, Melbourne, Movers & Shapers Women in the Land Hazelhurst Arts Centre, Sydney, Big Country AK Bellinger Gallery,               Inverell, Sir John Sulman Art Award Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, Vase & Vessel curated by Amber Creswell Bell Saint Cloche Gallery,               Sydney, Works on Paper section of the Muswellbrook Art Prize, Muswellbrook

2017   Still’s Art Prize Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery, The Design File’s Open House Melbourne], Semi Finalist Doug Moran Portrait Prize on               line exhibition, Black Swan Portrait Prize, Perth WA State Gallery, Christmas Exhibition, A.K Bellinger Gallery, Inverell, Spring, The                     Happen Store, Annandale, Sydney, Ode, Collab Gallery, Chippendale, Sydney, An Unguarded Moment, A.K Bellinger Gallery, Inverell,             At Home, Birds Gallery, Melbourne, Pen Line + Paint, 220 Creative Space, Woolloomooloo Sydney, Still & Private Lives A.K Bellinger                 Gallery Inverell, Muswellbrook 44th Art Prize, Painting and Drawing, Pen Line + Paint 220 creative                  space Woolloomooloo                 Sydney, At Home Birds Gallery Melbourne, An Unguarded Moment A.K Bellinger Gallery Inverell, Black Swan                Portrait Prize               Perth, Semi Finalist Doug Moran Portrait Prize, on line exhibition.

2016   Fundraising Event Dominik Mersch Gallery, Master exhibition NAS Gallery, Clay Gulgong Wool Shed Gulgong, Adelaide Perry Prize for            drawing  PLC Adelaide Perry Gallery Sydney

2015   Hurford Hardwood Portrait Prize, Lismore Regional Gallery, Lismore

2015   Paddington Art Prize, Woollahra, Naked & Nude Manning Art Prize, Manning Regional Art Gallery, Taree,  Five Years On, Articulate                  Project Space, Sydney
2013   The Nature of Things, Jean-Bellette Gallery, Hill End
2012   National Art School Postgraduate Exhibition, National Art School, Sydney,  Dobell Drawing Prize, New South Wales Art Gallery,                         Sydney, Mosman Art Prize, Mosman Art Gallery
2011   Blake Prize - National Art School Gallery & touring regional galleries,  Gosford Art Prize, Gosford Regional Gallery, Gosford,  Talls,                    River Bank Gallery, Canowindra,  Flanagan Art Prize, St. Patrick’s College, Ballarat,    Lachlan Valley Art Award Exhibition, Cowra                      Regional Art Gallery, Cowra
2009   Local Artists Exhibition, The Hub Art Gallery, Grenfell
2007   Group Show, 4A At Gallery, Sydney
2006   Two Artist Show, James Harvey Gallery, Clovelly, Port Macquarie Art Society Show - Portrait Competition, Port Macquarie
2005   Emerging Artists, Newport Artworks Gallery, Newport


2019    Finalist Calleen Art Award, Cowra Regional Art Gallery, Cowra

2019    Finalist Bayside Acquisitiive Art Prize, Bayside Art Gallery, Brighton Victoria

2019    Finalist Outback Art Prize, Outback Regional Art Gallery Winton Queensland

2019    Finalist Muswellbrook Art Prize (painting section), Muswellbrook Regional Art Gallery

2018    Finalist Paddington Art Prize, Sydney, Finalist Sir John Sulman Art Award Art Gallery of NSW, Won the Works on Paper section of the                Muswellbrook Art Prize, Muswellbrook Regional Art Gallery

2017    Finalist Still’s Art Prize Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery, Semi Finalist -  Doug Moran Portrait Prize, on line exhibition, Finalist -  Black                  Swan Portrait Prize, Perth, Finalist, Finalist Muswellbrook 44th Art Prize, Drawng, and Painting, Finalist Black Swan Portrait Prize, Semi              Finalist Doug Moran Portrait Prize, on line exhibition.

2016    Semi Finalist Doug Moran Portrait Prize, Finalist Adelaide Perry Prize for drawing Sydney

2015    Finalist Hurford Hardwood Portrait Prize, Lismore Regional Gallery, Lismore,   Finalist Paddington Art Prize, Woollahra,    Finalist -                     Naked & Nude Manning Art Prize
2013    Semi Finalist - Moran portrait Prize
2012    Finalist - Dobell Drawing Prize ,   Finalist - Mosman Art Prize
2012    Finalist - Hornsby Art Prize
2011    Finalist - Blake Prize,   Finalist - Gosford Art Prize
2011    Finalist - Flanagan Art Prize
2011    Highly Commended (mixed media) - Lachlan Valley Art Awards
2007    First Prize (watercolour) - Kempsey Shire Art Prize
2006    Highly Commended - Port Macquarie Art Society Show - Portrait Competition
2004    Highly Commended - Zooman Art Exhibition
2004    Highly Commended - Adelaide Swift Art Award


            PLC Adelaide Perry Gallery Sydney, Multiple private collections  















bottom of page