Steph Fuller / Snails

“So what do you like to take photos of most?” he asks me, clearly expecting an answer like ‘babies’, ‘weddings’ or ‘21st's’.

“Snails.”

I’m not entirely sure when I became the snail girl. I’ve used them in my work before; maybe it was my instagram story that sealed it? Or that I gave them names? Frank is the best snail ever, an absolute performer in front of the camera. Martha: not so much (she bites). In theory, contracting two snails for the job means that when one gets tired and packs up shop you can work with the other. But the saying about working with children and animals applies here - it’s trying work.

 Figure 1:  My social media channels can go from 0 to 'what is wrong with you' real quick

Figure 1:  My social media channels can go from 0 to 'what is wrong with you' real quick

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So what is it that I love about snails? Well, have you looked at one? They’re basically tiny aliens. Their eyeballs are 100% sci-fi. I can’t get enough of these slimy mini-Yodas, and it shows. They’ve been appearing in my work since 2012, and something tells me we’re just getting warmed up.

 Figure 2:  Return to Beyond,  2017, Steph Fuller

Figure 2: Return to Beyond, 2017, Steph Fuller

My practice is largely focused on the borrowing of common objects to re-create the extraordinary. Earlier this year I was the 2017 SALA Artist-in-Residence at Flinders Medical Centre. I aligned with the department of Medical Imaging, intending to take various diagnostic scans (like X-Rays) and recreate them using markedly ordinary subject matter. Privileged to spend time in each modality of Medical Imaging (X-Ray, Ultrasound, MRI, CT, Angiography, and Nuclear Medicine), I was able to see an amazing variety of scans. For someone whose father is a Radiographer, I thought that I would be a little more privy to the world of diagnostic imaging. It’s fortunate that I wasn’t, however, as being oblivious to pathology and even much of the anatomy I was seeing meant that I could observe through the metaphorical lens of an artist. This was essential to the success of the residency – prior knowledge might’ve hampered my capacity to draw far-fetched parallels between scan and concept.

 Figure 3: A page of idea generation from my residency journal

Figure 3: A page of idea generation from my residency journal

Many hours were spent pouring over the beauty of Angiography and the Trent Parke-ness of Nuclear Medicine scans. I listened to Nero’s Welcome Reality album on repeat (it sounds like a sci-fi movie, ok?), and stewed over the shapes and forms of bones and arteries until I saw other things in them. So many of the forms complemented those in flora, and Internal Botany came into being. The final series of 12 prints were displayed in Promenade Gallery B of Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) during SALA. Special mention to the team at Arts in Health at FMC for being completely behind my vision, and even donating a dragonfly found in the corridor to my cause. Frank the snail only features in one shot but steals the show as the best patella you’ll ever see.

 Figure 4:  Posteroanterior Hand Radiograph , 2017, Steph Fuller, 70x50cm

Figure 4: Posteroanterior Hand Radiograph, 2017, Steph Fuller, 70x50cm

 Figure 5:  Nuclear Medicine Bone Scan, Lumbar Spine and Pelvis , 2017, Steph Fuller, 50x50cm

Figure 5: Nuclear Medicine Bone Scan, Lumbar Spine and Pelvis, 2017, Steph Fuller, 50x50cm

 Figure 6:  Lateral Knee Plain Film,  2017, Steph Fuller, 70x50cm

Figure 6: Lateral Knee Plain Film, 2017, Steph Fuller, 70x50cm

Presently, my focus is on a body of work centred on the exploration of deep space. I use easily accessible subject matter (toothpaste, cigarettes, insects, etc) to explore that which I cannot actually investigate in person. The result is a recreation of classic NASA photographs and ISS views. Think the Earth’s curved horizon (but it’s actually a fishbowl), or imagine a tiny panicked Sandra Bullock running out of oxygen against a backdrop of stars (but it’s actually an uncooperative mosquito against a toothpaste-flecked mirror).

 Figure 7:  Horizon,  2016, Steph Fuller

Figure 7: Horizon, 2016, Steph Fuller

 Figure 8:  View from Observation Deck , 2014, Steph Fuller

Figure 8: View from Observation Deck, 2014, Steph Fuller

And of course, if we’re talking deep space, it was only a matter of time before everyone’s favourite tiny aliens made an appearance.


Pulse as Landscape, 2017.

Check out my show Deep Space at FELTspace in March 2018 for more moving-image works of small critters living the astro-dream.

Follow my adventures with bugs on instagram @stephfullerartist

Stay weird.

Written by Steph Fuller