There is a potent sense of mystery surrounding the work of Petrina Hicks. Polished, tense and cool to the touch; with each photograph we are invited to comprehend a profound sense of curiosity as we gaze into images that are equal parts bemusing and beautiful. There is a discerning barrier between the viewer and the subjects of a Petrina Hicks photograph, a foundational device that threads the artist’s powerful oeuvre. This barrier is well controlled, quite intentional and has directed a roster of global exhibitions that have attracted critical praise for their visual ingenuity and un-compromised pursuit of technical excellence. Petrina Hicks is a perfectionist, and every part of her scrupulous sensitivity is present in her work.

Biophilia is Petrina Hicks’ newest exhibition which debuts at Michael Reid Sydney in June, 2023. The exhibition is a marvelous display of technical superiority and is the culmination of rigid research and twelve-months in the studio. Biophilia takes its narrative inspiration from the indistinct space between human and animal states, presenting the viewer with expertly choreographed and meticulously directed images.

Throughout her career, Petrina Hicks has dependably extracted from mythology, fables, and historical art imagery to re-frame the contemporary female experience. Her use of animals in her photographs are visually compelling and behave as symbolic gestures that allude to the human psyche. In Biophilia, Hicks melds these sensibilities, navigating art, science, history, and existential philosophy. Through Biophilia, Petrina Hicks creates a hypnotic space of oscillating directions, where identities dissolve and few rules apply.

The mechanics of Petrina Hicks’ studio processes are as intriguing as the works themselves. To this day, Hicks prefers analogue methods, dismissing a dependency on digital post-production. By way of preserving the traditional film discipline Hicks assembles her subjects manually, delivering a potent dose of authenticity to her magic-realism aesthetic.

In her precisely articulated Biophilia world, Petrina Hicks creates untethered spaces of illusion, suspending the burdens of any linear narrative. In Sleepwalker I, a young girl’s gaze is obstructed by her windswept hair, representing consciousness that surpasses self-identity. In Grace, a model takes a classical sculpture stance, whose defiant posture is betrayed by the softness of her bare skin. Petrina Hicks’ work lives outside of comprehensible time, supplying an entrancing state of engagement that is rarely encountered in still photographic art. Hicks’ command of symbolism, motif and metaphor connect wonderfully with her incomparable vision, offering alternative modes of learning about the nature of the human condition.

To discuss an acquisition enquiry, or to learn more about works exhibiting in Biophilia, please email

Biophilia at Michael Reid Sydney is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW.

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