Michael Esson

Art Atrium, Contemporary art, Australian art, Art gallery, Art exhibition, Art & Design, Australian Artist, Drawing, UNSW Lecturer, Artist


These works are part of the evolution of ‘Searching for Turtles in Paradise’ which was based on a previous exhibition ‘Where do Butterflies Go When They Die’. Both solo exhibitions in Pakistan.

An excursion to Paradise Point west of Karachi looking for turtles laying their eggs on the beach proved unsuccessful, the turtles have been and gone. The elusive turtles soon turned to being hand grenades due to segmented nature of the shells, and perhaps reflecting the inherent threat of conflict in the world. Like the turtles, being outside the comfort of one’s environment, the world can become a hostile place.

In recent years  visits to Pakistan, China, and Russia has  emphasised to me  the social and political upheaval that impacts all our lives.

Turtles are a symbol of longevity, butterflies the symbol of the soul. Surely we are all searching for the elusive turtles in paradise.

The silhouettes  form the main characters in the drama, whilst the drawn images within, are layered with associations and meaning forming a secondary narrative. These metaphors suggest ideas of vulnerability and threat , ugliness and beauty.

Michael Esson was born in Scotland in 1950 and studied at Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen, Edinburgh College of Art and the Royal College of Art, London.  He is a practising artist living in Sydney, exhibiting widely internationally. For more than 40 years his work has dealt almost exclusively with the human body, it’s structure and vulnerability. He was the first artist-in-residence at the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh, in 1993/94, and in 1997  established the ‘Art of Reconstruction’ for plastic surgeons courses. Since then he has regularly offered the courses throughout Australia, USA, China, Turkey, Pakistan New Zealand  the UK, and is currently Honorary Professor of Art and Surgery, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney.

He was the Director of the International Drawing Research Institute, the College of Fine Arts, the University of New South Wales, and a Visiting Professor at the Xian Academy of Fine Art, China, Dong Hua University, Shanghai, China, and Lu Xun Academy of Fine Art, Shenyang, China. From 2007 – 2015 he was  Professor of Drawing at Lincoln University, UK. More recently he was visiting Professor at the Shanghai Institute of Visual Art, and Professor of Drawing at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Karachi, Pakistan.

Art Atrium Exhibition Opening – Michael Esson – Searching for Turtles in Paradise

Michael EssonSearching for Turtles in ParadiseInterview with Richard Moorecroft

Art Atrium Artist Talk, Private Viewing and Drawing Workshop – Michael Esson