Outcry over hunting arts project
The kill: Katrina Byrnes poses with a dead kangaroo. Photo: Emma Thomson
Dressed in cowboy boots, shorts and a midriff top, Katrina Byrnes stands next to a dead kangaroo she has just shot. Her arm and leg are smeared with blood, while an ammunition belt lies on a log behind her kill.
Emma Thomson says her photos of women like Ms Byrnes are part of a valid artistic project. But animal rights campaigners are outraged that Thomson's photographs of women posing with animals they have killed have been funded by taxpayers through Museums and Galleries NSW, a state government agency.
The chief executive of Animal Liberation, Lynda Stoner, said Thomson's photos objectified women and glorified the slaughter of animals for sport.
''I wonder if the 'artist' will be privy to four and five dogs ripping a pig to pieces, will she hear the screaming of that animal?'' she said.
''Or, a knife going in not once but dozens of times before the animal finally succumbs.''
Thomson said she photographs the women after they have been hunting for kangaroo, deer, wild boars, rabbits and foxes. And she said that none of the animals are specifically killed for her to photograph.
Thomson is photographing female hunters from the Dubbo region as part of a two-month artist-in-residency at Dubbo Regional Gallery funded by Museums and Galleries NSW.
The agency's website says Thomson's project ''will challenge the male-dominated sport and seek out willing female shooters to pose with their kill''.
Thomson's subjects range from young women like Byrnes to mothers and a 65-year-old woman who has been shooting since she was a child.
''When I was looking at hunting magazines, there were mainly men,'' she said.
''But talking to locals and local gun shops, there is a big population of women who go hunting with their boyfriends or other women.''
Thomson's exhibition depicting women with animals they have killed, their weapons and hunting dogs will be shown at a Sydney gallery as part of the Head On Photo Festival in May and at Dubbo Regional Gallery in 2014.
Her art focuses on subcultures in society and people who seek out the limelight - such as a man who asked her take pictures of him naked in a national park.
She has placed advertisements in local Dubbo newspaper, the Daily Liberal, looking for women who hunt.
''I have had local women sending me photos of them posing with foxes, and posing with guns,'' she told the Daily Liberal last week.