Siddell heightens our awareness of how loaded with meaning everyday objects are
by including these in her work in some suprising juxtapositions. Cooking
utensils, food, bottles of wine all contribute to the often chaotic
compositions of Siddell’s painting.
Traditionally perceived as the realm of women the domestic sphere is
loaded with both philosophical and political undercurrents for Siddell. Issues
of fertility, fecundity and decay are raised in her work. Luscious fruits wait
to be consumed and then discarded without a second thought just as women are
presented in the media as consumable items useful for marketing purposes until
they reach a certain age and then discarded.
On close inspection and careful contemplation one becomes aware of the undercurrents
in her painting. The elements on a domestic oven turning into eels and rising
up to cook the fish and pasta for dinner in ‘Seethe’, raises issues about
consumerism and the supposedly safe domestic world which is in fact peppered
with acts of destruction and decay. The cabbage coming out of the carefully
tended garden to be shredded through a manual grinder for coleslaw in ‘Paradise
Lost’ highlights the duality involved in home making.
There are multiple layers to Siddell’s work which reward the viewer for
Siddell has been exhibiting her paintings and drawings since 1975 and is
represented in both public and private collections throughout New Zealand. In
the Queen's Birthday and Golden Jubilee Honours 2002 Sylvia Siddell was
appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in recognition of
services to painting.