FIRST EXHIBITED –  Caloundra Regional Gallery, 25 May to 3 July 2016


In Papillon, a kaleidoscope of butterflies made from recycled tea bags float and waft from the ceiling of the gallery foyer in a kinetic sculpture that counterpoints an equal number of specimens printed with abstract imagery pinned to the walls for closer observation.

As ARAS (Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism) in the Book of Symbols points out, the butterfly has signified not only the mystery of physical metamorphoses, but also the loveliest transmutations of the soul, often taking place out of sight, attesting to the unconscious dynamics at work. In this exhibition we are reminded that although the transformation can be a symbol of true and lasting change, it is not a once in a life time achievement but a consistent and persistent process that is the means with which we move towards wholeness.

Between the butterflies pinned to the wall and the dynamic installation from the foyer ceiling there is a dichotomy that creates a new language exploring the potentiality and actuality of metamorphosis, imbuing the works with a deeper meaning. – Kim Schoenberger


For her exhibition Papillon, Sunshine Coast artist Kim Schoenberger has created two distinct yet interconnected installations which comprise thousands of butterflies made from recycled tea bags.

These works are not the first instance in which Schoenberger has used the humble tea bag as a material. For the exhibitions Expressions of Love I (2010) and Expressions of Love II (2014), the artist produced a series of objects – including quilts, gloves and a parasol – made from tea bags which had been sewn together.

In many of these works, including Deconstructed Quilt (2013), the individual tea bags are still visible, emphasising the domestic and feminine associations of the objects on which they are based.

Papillon (French for butterfly), represents a development on these previous works, with Schoenberger transforming more than five thousand tea bags into the individual paper butterflies that populate the two installations on display in the exhibition.

In Flight (2016) features more than two thousand of Schoenberger’s butterflies suspended from netting high above the gallery foyer. Viewed from below, the butterflies appear to hover in the space, the circulation of air creating a kinetic effect. At different times of the day the natural light flowing into the foyer illuminates the sepia-hued, translucent butterflies.

For the second work, In the Light of Truth (2016), on display in an adjoining gallery, Schoenberger has arranged three thousand of these butterflies in a grid formation across two adjacent walls, with a segment of empty wall space on the larger wall mirrored by a small grid of 88 butterflies on the opposite, otherwise empty wall.

The precise, geometric arrangement of these butterflies, pinned to the walls, recalls a museological display of animal specimens. The butterflies in this installation have undergone an additional process, in which the artist has printed a series of abstract patterns onto the tea bags, inviting closer inspection from the viewer. The repetition of the patterns creates an optical effect as the viewer’s eyes move across the installation.

Schoenberger’s process of transforming her material mirrors the life-cycle of a butterfly, know as metamorphosis, from an egg to larva (caterpillar), to pupa (chrysalis) and finally to a butterfly. Just as the lifespan of a butterfly is a temporary part of the cycle of metamorphosis, the twin installations that make up Papillon represent but one stage of a much longer process, in which the artist extends her use of quotidian materials to create two works which, read together, emphasise the creative process and the infinite possibilities of transformation.

Hamish Sawyer Curator, Caloundra Regional Gallery

An eight page catalogue is available upon request

←Back to Gallery

← Back to Exhibitions