The Welcome Guest
by Patricia Piccinini (2011)
The title for this work comes from a quote by Goethe; "Beauty is everywhere a welcome guest." For me it is a work that reflects on the beauty and strangeness of nature. In making my work, I often look at images of creatures from the real world, and I am struck by just how bizarre and extraordinary they are. Take the peacock for example. Who would have thought that beauty would be so important that evolution would arrive at a creature as ridiculous as the peacock. The peacock's beauty does not provide any protection, nor any extra efficiency or ability to find food. I think I find this choice of beauty over efficiency beautiful in itself. It is so at odds with our own ideas about how we would 'engineer' creatures, which would place utility above everything else. Why would we choose to create new life? Surely only to do something for us, never for its own sake, never just to be wonderful. However, it seems to be a good enough reason for nature and so perhaps it is as good a reason for any. If it isn't a good reason, then what is?