Turtle eclipse of the art


In June 2014 I left Australia for the first time and visited Italy. The thing I was most excited about was seeing art by each of the Ninja Turtles: Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael and Leonardo.

In preparation for the trip I made ceramic sculptures of each of the turtles, modeled from the action figures I played with as a kid. My hope was to reunite each of the turtles with their most famous artwork.

Michelangelo with David

(at the Accademia, in Florence)

Donatello with his David

(at the Bargello, in Florence)

Raphael with Madonna and Child

(at the Uffizi, in Florence)

Leonardo with The Last Supper
(at the Santa Maria delle Grazie, in Milan)

In the lead up to the trip I’d thought that this was going to be a really fun thing to do but actually I think it just made the act of seeing some of the greatest artworks in history an experience of genuine anxiety.

Maybe the most unexpected thing about all this was just how positive and enthusiastic strangers seemed to respond. Tourists, cleaners, café staff and even the guards that x-ray you as you enter the museums, all seemed to light up and request photos when they noticed one of the turtles and clicked to what I was I doing.

It was totally overwhelming because I was traveling alone and couldn’t speak very good Italian so it was really only through the Ninja Turtles that I was able to get around the language barrier and connect with people in amazing little moments.

(This piece was selected as a finalist in the 2014 Substation Art Prize.
And in January 2015 this piece was published in issue 3 of the Artbank publication Sturgeon, click here to find it on their website.)