If we’re to consider social and behavioural norms as a set of limitations or constraints, just what happens when we set ourselves free? It’s a question that lies at the heart of prolific Melbourne artist Tai Snaith’s new site-specific installation in the West Space reading room.

Framing the artist as an incarnation of the wild self – albeit tamed and mediated via the institutions of the art school and the gallery – Snaith’s new series of collages and drawings on old books and paper take creative women as their muse, paying homage to female artists and writers and subverting societal clichés and archetypes, albeit with a cheeky smile.

A stunning watercolour recasts a classic photograph of senior Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama leading a polka-dotted horse as part of her 1967 Woodstock ‘happening’ Horse Play, while a striking collage references local writer Josephine Rowe. There are Snaith’s typical nods to the absurd; a collage of 50s-style glamour girl entwined by snakes (dubbed Snake Charmer) flips the myth of the Medusa with a salacious wink. Her beauteous renderings of wildlife also make an appearance with Birds of the Day, a gorgeous painting of an owl and the Venus symbol on a decaying book cover.

As part of tonight’s opening, Snaith will launch a new, curated limited-edition artist’s book featuring writings and artworks by friends and creative women.

Woman Vs Wild opens Thursday, 6pm–8pm, at West Space and shows until June 23.

westspace.org.au