STRANGE BOTANICALS began with an odd durian-headed character and a four-legged mangosteen companion which was created by ERYN during her time at a three-month art residency organized by Rimbun Dahan at Hotel Penaga, Penang, Malaysia in 2016. As the series developed, more and more characters appeared along with their individual baggage and backstory. Some of these characters are loosely based on Southeast Asian myths and folklore which have been reinterpreted through the artist’s own experience while other narratives are created organically as the characters come into being. The characters are made out of hybridized forms of plant and animal heads on a humanoid puppet-like body. The lack of a human face gives these figures an aspect of being alien and foreign and relates to the artist’s own search of belonging in this strange world.
Some of the recurring characters include the Hornbill Brothers who face the threat of extinction after their jungle home was destroyed; the Chrysanthemum Sisters who live in a sprawling, wooden kampung house and are fighting over an inheritance; Durianhead who is endlessly curious and meets the Ferryman on her way to find her dream; Lockjaw the shaman who killed and wears the skin of an albino crocodile to become immortal, and many more.
ERYN first proposed the concept of ‘Inhabitants’ (previously titled ‘Telling Tales’) in her application for Khazanah Nasional’s three-month Associate Artist Residency Programme with Acme Studios in London and was awarded the residency from September to November 2018. She is now in the process of creating a plentiful amount of characters and support material for this interactive narrative and world-building piece.
Paper Cutouts on Wood, Canvas and Perspex
Most of the early works in this series are composed of single or multi-layered paper cutouts on a support of either wood, canvas or perspex. This technique was first explored in the Known X Unknown series and later branched into the Diorama series.
Drawings on Paper
Circular black and white line drawings of Strange Botanicals' cast. These are intended to be characters studies to help develop each individual character's personality and backstory before planting them into a larger composition.