Dinosaur artworks at the Wagga Art Gallery for Andrew Sullivan's 'Survey into the Cretaceous'

The head of a t-rex sits in a sea of oil paint tubes and chocolate wrappers. It jaws pried wide open. In its eye is stands the object of its dead stare.

Reflected in the painted eye of the giant lizard is the figure of the artist himself. Over six years, Sydney artist Andrew Sullivan has researched, recorded and replicated on canvas the creatures of the cretaceous period.

Now adorning the walls of the Wagga Art Gallery, it is the first time the culmination of all works has been exhibited together.

"When I first saw the work, I thought it was reminiscent of Del Kathryn Barton," said gallery director Caroline Geraghty.

The other artist's exhibition, entitled The Nightingale and the Rose is also currently held at the gallery, complimenting the Survey of the Cretaceous works along the adjacent wall.

"It resonated with the other works, and when I spoke [to Andrew Sullivan] it turned out they had both gone to the same art school He has even painted her portrait," Ms Geraghty said.


A break from the artist's typical venture, in Survey of the Cretaceous the artist borrows aspects of scientific procedure in his works.

"He's imagined himself as a 18th century explorer in the crestaceous period and made these anatomical studies, as though he were Joseph Banks or the like," Ms Geraghty said.

Working with a paleontologist while conducting his own research, the artist has attempted to re-create the truest depiction of both extinct and living creatures of the cretaceous period.

"Like a scientist, he had to imagine a lot of what they would have looked like. I think it'd be frustrating, and he has said there were canvases he destroyed because he's a perfectionist and had to get it right.

"If you look at the reverse of some of the canvases, there is a complete painting on a canvas that has been re-used."

Far from the typical scientific documentation, the artworks also lean heavily on symbolism of the artist world.

"There are elements of Dante's Inferno and the re-occurring butterfly which he talks about being symbolism for the release of the soul," Ms Geraghty said.

"He's [also] painted them alongside common everyday things, there's a dairy milk wrapper, common tins and an ashtray. He even appears in the works, reflected in an eye or in a mirror."

The Survey into the Cretaceous exhibition will continue at Wagga Art Gallery until January 26.

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This story Art gallery travels back into the distant past of dinosaurs first appeared on The Daily Advertiser.