Fairy Tales: Timothy Horn’s improbable objects


The ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition comes alive with magical moments that defy expectations. Timothy Horn’s Mother-load 2008 presents an improbable object — a coach made of sugar — rendering make‑believe into reality, while Glass slipper (ugly blister) 2001 gives a modern take on the ‘Cinderella’ story with an oversized, highly embellished jewel-encrusted slipper.

Buy Tickets to ‘Fairy Tales’
Until 28 April 2024
Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane

‘Fairy Tales’ unfolds across three themed chapters. ‘Into the Woods’ explores the conventions and characters of traditional fairy tales alongside their contemporary retellings. ‘Through the Looking Glass’ presents newer tales of parallel worlds that are filled with unexpected ideas and paths. ‘Ever After’ brings together classic and current tales to celebrate aspirations, challenge convention and forge new directions.

Travel with us in our weekly series through each room and theme of the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) as we take you on a tour of artwork highlights on display.

DELVE DEEPER: Journey through the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition with our weekly series


Timothy Horn ‘Mother-load’ 2008

Australian sculptor Timothy Horn’s Mother-load 2008 (illustraterd), from his ‘Bitter Suite’ series, is a striking half-sized rendering of an ornate sedan chair — popular among the Neapolitan elite of the eighteenth century — encrusted in golden crystallised rock sugar. The work is grounded in the historical ‘rags to riches’ tale of Alma de Bretteville Spreckels. Spreckels rose from humble beginnings as a child of Danish immigrants to become a renowned North American art collector, philanthropist and socialite through her marriage to sugar baron Adolph Spreckels, whom she affectionately called her ‘sugar daddy’.

Motherload is inspired by the antique coach owned by ‘Big Alma’, who used it as a phonebooth in her Pacific Heights mansion in San Francisco. This highly embellished sculpture presents the kind of impossible fantasy of wealth and opulence central to many aspirational stories, including ‘Cinderella’. Its sugary materiality — beckoning viewers to contemplate a forbidden taste of the artwork.

Timothy Horn, Australia/United States b.1964 / Mother-load 2008, installed in ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane 2023 / Crystalised rock sugar, plywood, steel / Courtesy: Timothy Horn / © Timothy Horn

Timothy Horn ‘Glass slipper (ugly blister)’ 2001

In contrast to the faceted lines of an all-glass slipper, the jewel-encrusted lead crystal creation of Timothy Horn, Glass slipper (ugly blister) 2001 (illustrated), from the artist’s ‘Cinderella Complex’ sculpture series, captures the grandeur of the court of Louis XIV and the Palace of Versailles at the time of Charles Perrault’s telling of ‘Cinderella’. In the Baroque period, glass mirrors and crystal were highly valued objects of opulence and luxury. Fascinated by eighteenth-century engravings, patterns, jewellery and fashion, Horn blends a love of Baroque and Rococo art and glasswork.

Timothy Horn, Australia/United States b.1964 / Glass slipper (ugly blister) 2001, installed in ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane 2023 / Lead crystal, nickel-plated bronze, Easter egg foil, silicon / 51 x 72 x 33cm / Purchased 2002 / Collection: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra / © Timothy Horn

TheFairy Talesexhibition is at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Australia from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024.

Fairy Tales Cinema: Truth, Power and Enchantment‘ presented in conjunction with GOMA’s blockbuster summer exhibition screens at the Australian Cinémathèque, GOMA from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024.

The major publication Fairy Tales in Art and Film’ available at the QAGOMA Store and online explores how fairy tales have held our fascination for centuries through art and culture.

From gift ideas, treats just for you or the exhibition publication, visit the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition shop at GOMA or online.

‘Fairy Tales’ merchandise available at the GOMA exhibition shop or online.