‘The Resistible Rise Of A Bear of Little Brain’ – An exhibition by Stephen Ives

STEF HERO (1 of 1)

Stephen Ives is an architect of fantastic worlds.

Stephen Ives, employs a rare level of expert craftsmanship to present an unfiltered and lucid exploration of his brilliant imagination. Ives’ subconscious pours free-style poetry into his sculptures and illustrations, lacing his work with a playful language of archetypal symbols and colours.

As his audience, we are free to enjoy the surreal, superficial brilliance of a B17 Bomber with a baby’s face or a gun turret placed in dissected eyeball. However, if we choose to delve deeper into his work there is hidden meaning in each and every detail, waiting for us to decipher.



Ives describes his work as ‘bricolage’, a French term, recently popularised by artists such as Tom Sachs and mockingly employed to affect a pretentious air upon a style of art that essentially uses found objects or sometimes even just junk. Stephen Ives brings a new level of abstraction to the tradition by working with discarded toys, cut-up and expertly resculpted and repurposed. The inherent cultural references that the toys lend each sculpture is actually where the symbolic subtext of Ives’ work is most apparent. If his subconscious is talking to us through his art, his inner child is without doubt the ring leader.



On July 7th, Stephen Ives is opening ‘The Resistible Rise of a Bear of Little Brain’, a pseudo-historical war museum at Backwoods Gallery. Running until July 23rd, the collection of dioramic sculptures, historic sketches and priceless war paraphernalia recounts the key events in the darkest chapter of recent fictional history, ‘The Great Pooh War’. The megalomaniacal transformation of Winnie the Pooh from silly old bear to vicious dictator poised to take possession of the one hundred acre woods.


More than a fictional universe which has been developing in Ives’ head since 2002, ‘The Great Pooh War’ is a stern warning of the dangers inherent in the lust for power and honey. It is a tale of what happens when the seams of society come undone and madness takes hold, with an absolutely uncanny similarity to our own world. Go figure.

It is also, of course, a brilliantly conceived and executed, absurdist exhibition of fantastically detailed sculptures, illustration and installations by an artist who Backwoods Gallery consider a treasure to the Australian art scene and who they are extremely proud to work with.


‘The Resistible Rise Of A Bear of Little Brain’ opens on Friday, July 7th, and is on display until Sunday, July 23rd. There is a cover charge of $5 which includes a Little Yellow Book. Free entry for children. Enamel pins will be available from the ‘museum shop’.

Thanks to Alex Mitchell for these words about the show.