katy woodroffe — swan lake

Transfixed by Tasmania’s native black swans, painter Katy Woodroffe takes us on an exotic journey back in time to Van Diemen’s Land and Napolean Bonaparte. It begins when she spies two beautiful swans during a weekend away, and ends with the stunning body of new work in her Swan Lake exhibition.

In 1804 French Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, dispatched explorers to the ‘Great Southern Land’. They returned with exotic flora and fauna, including black swans which Empress Josephine immediately installed in her gardens. “Europeans had only ever seen white swans,” Katy explains, “and Josephine’s birds became instant celebrities with people travelling from all over Europe to see them.”

Compelled to tell this story in Swan Lake, Katy treats us to lushly patterned works. Echoes in the Shadow explores the cultural chasm between Van Diemen’s Land – depicted by a black swan and historic porcelain – and France symbolised by a regal white bird. We also glimpse into Josephine’s private world in Rendezvous within in the Inner Sanctum as we explore the glorious swan imagery from her chateaux.

“Once I stumbled across the story of our black swans I couldn’t stop. I even tracked down little hidey holes on the riverbank where I could sit for hours and watch them float around. But this story is now complete, and it’s time to move onto my next chapter.”

Katy Woodroffe’s Swan Lake exhibition runs from July 21 – August 7.