Burmese-Australian visual artist from Melbourne, Shan Primrose decided it was time in late November 2021 to honour her dual identity through art when her solo exhibition, Dogs breakfast came to life.
The 26-year-old artist’s craftwork exhibits influences of Australian and 90s cartoon shows from the ABC, in Dog’s Breakfast. “I like colours a lot and I also like monsters; I like painting things that come straight from my imagination,” Primrose says.
Primrose claims she embraces the chaotic union of her two cultures, as well as her two dogs hence the name Dog’s Breakfast, an Aussie slang “used to describe something or someone that looks messy,” according to Insider Guides.
In her ‘Self Portrait 1’, the artist is seen wearing a traditional Burmese Longyi paired with an Aussie bikini and a turban made from an AFL scarf, while holding her two dogs to show harmony between her two cultures. The artist also painted a VB bottle and a bong made from a Gatorade bottle at the bottom of the portrait to pay tribute to the Aussie culture on her father’s side, “it’s funny because my cousin actually has a bong company where he makes ceramic bongs,” she says.
The exhibition also featured a sculpture titled ‘Nat Shrine’ with a note reading, “leave an offering”. Primrose says this was one of her very first sculptures made of recycled timber to imitate Shrines that are found in Burma to house spiritual deities and offerings. The ‘Nat Shrine’ showcases pieces of Australian youth culture, such as the painting of a Burmese deity on a ‘goon sack’ smoking a cigarette and a jug that was stolen from a bar. Primrose explains, “I really wanted an interactive element to my show, so this was perfect, people were leaving me more ciggies, money, condoms and random ID cards,” the artist says.
The Nat Shrine, Image supplied by Shan Primrose
Growing up within the insular suburbs of the Mornington Peninsula sheltered the artist from accepting her Burmese culture for a long time until she moved to the city. “The whole journey of curating this exhibition was all about learning and reclaiming this part of my identity that I was never open to before,” Primrose says.
Primrose looks forward to taking a break from her art for a while for her mental health and moving to Sydney to connect with more artists.