Robyn Beeche

(Australia 14 Feb 1945 – 13 Aug 2015)

Greasy pole II

Not on display
Further information

Australian photographer Robyn Beeche’s theatrical portraiture recasts the body as a malleable and hyper-human form. Using body paint and lighting effects, and no post production, Beeche transforms her subjects into surreal spectacles. The trompe-l’oeil effects she achieved were the result of collaborations with designers and makeup artists, among them Richard Sharples who painted the model in this photograph to appear part-cyborg, part-mummy.

Born in Sydney, Beeche spent time in London in the 1970s and 80s before settling in India in 1992. While in London she became one of the few female fashion photographers to infiltrate an industry dominated by men. The visual language of fashion photography would have a profound effect on her personal photographic practice. Beeche’s aesthetic both references and reflects particular stylistic obsessions that dominated British pop culture and fashion, from punk to the New Romantics. Beeche was herself entrenched in the landscape of British subcultures and many of her models were icons of the underground from Leigh Bowery to the drag performer Divine while she frequently collaborated with counter-culture figureheads like Vivienne Westwood and Zandra Rhodes.

Before the age of digital manipulation, Beeche introduced illusion into the photographic frame. In this work she flirts with the stylization and subjects of science fiction film. Yet in spite of the fact that she is being cut up and dissected, Beeche’s subject wears the animated facial expression of a pop icon. Even as she strays into the macabre, Beeche retains her playfulness.

printed 2010
direct positive colour photograph
61.0 x 50.8 cm image; 65.8 x 52.6 cm sheet
Gift of Gael Newton 2018
Accession number
© Estate of Robyn Beeche