Adrienne Doig taps into her inner goddess


On a recent trip to Italy, Katoomba-based textile artist Adrienne Doig spent time at the Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum in Syracuse. While there, she became fascinated with small ancient statues of Greek goddesses clustered together in large groups. Within each group were multiple versions of the same goddess, all slightly different in their execution.

“It was in the repetition that things got really interesting for me,” Doig explains. “When there is just one or two, they’re lovely little objects, but when you see hundreds of these figures en masse—all quirky and handmade—their power becomes much greater.”

An artist whose practice focuses on textiles and self-portraiture, upon return to Australia Doig began creating doll-like figures of herself reimagined as a goddess. “Depicting myself as a goddess, I embody and venerate female power in a whimsical yet powerful way,” says Doig. Over 50 goddess figures have since been hand embroidered by Doig. Some are standing alone while others are accompanied by soft sculptures of natural elements within the landscape—water, trees and animals. “I wanted to draw out the idea of goddess cults offering protection,” she says.

Illustrating this is a series of toga wearing goddesses sitting atop Greek columns, all made of fabric. They each cradle a native Australian animal in their arms—a wombat, a crocodile, a platypus—and appear like protective deities.

“I was combining this idea with the need to take better care of our wildlife.” Filling out the insides of her figures with strips of cardboard, wood and textile remnants, Doig relies on recycled materials to avoid waste. As a result, Doig’s practice touches on environmental issues while also challenging the traditionally male-dominated field of classical portraiture by using techniques associated with the domestic sphere. “The limitations of the materials contribute to the look of the goddess figures, but as a group they tell a story. For me, the sum total of them makes a really successful portrait.”

Adrienne Doig
Martin Browne Contemporary
27 April—20 May

This article was originally published in the May/June 2023 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Preview Words by Briony Downes