See what's on at the

Browse What's On

– Highlights


Grayson Perry

10 Dec - 01 May


Primavera 2015

22 Sep - 06 Dec


Matthys Gerber

22 Sep - 06 Dec

Create and Learn at the

All Learning Programs

– Learning Events



06 Dec, 6.00pm, Throughout the MCA


Contemporary Art Studio

31 Mar, 10.00am, Level 3: National Centre for Creative Learning


Creativity in the Primary Classroom 2016

20 May, 9.00am, Level 3: National Centre for Creative Learning

Find out more about the

About the MCA

– News from inside the MCA

Six film sub-genres you didn’t know existed

Film archive legends Jay Katz and Miss Death enlighten us more

Getting Real (Time)

Artist Educator Stephanie Lade reflects on the process of creating a new learning program designed to open up experimental media processes to Primary and Secondary students. more

View the Collection

Browse Collection

– Spotlights from the collection online

Volume One: MCA Collection

Works from the MCA Collection on display

Remain in Light: Photography from the MCA Collections

On tour until October 2015


Watch our latest artist interview with Khaled Sabsabi

Rosalie Gascoigne

Tiger Tiger 1987

on display

Museum of Contemporary Art, gift of Loti Smorgon AO and Victor Smorgon AC, 1995

reflective material, wood

H 110.5 W 111.5 D 2cm

About the Artwork

Tiger Tiger is one of Gascoigne’s renowned and dramatic works made from reflective road signs that flash and flare when they catch the light. Within these works, the clear directional language of the signs are fragmented, the letters are scattered and their meaning incomprehensible. The real meaning of the work lies in experience of the found, weathered and reconfigured material and the play of light upon it.

Although the letters across the surface of Tiger Tiger do not cohere, language is central to its layered play of meaning. Gascoigne’s early training was in literature rather than the visual arts, and language infuses her work. Her assemblages are frequently referred to as visual poetry and share with modern poetry the construction techniques of fragmentation, repetition and juxtaposition. She often commented that her collaged use of text in works forms a sort of ‘stammering concrete poetry’. (1)

Gascoigne’s titles are always significant and she named this work after English poet William Blake’s 1794 rumination on the beauty and horror of nature, The Tyger. She frequently referred to Tiger Tiger subsequently in order to demonstrate how a title would come to her in contemplation, following the completion of a work. If the visual effects of Gascoigne’s works are open-ended and experiential, the titles reflect the formal qualities that are evocative, personal and precise – providing a point of entry into the work without being prescriptive. Just as Blake’s description of the animal begins, ‘Tyger tiger burning bright’, Gascoigne’s title points to the bold yellow and black colouring and its bright reflection. Similarly, the repetition in the title Tiger Tiger mirrors the two square panels of the diptych and the regular grid evokes the ordered patternation of the animal’s pelt, like Blake’s ‘fearful symmetry’.

It is this interplay between the texts of Romantic poem and road signage, like the flash of light across the surface of the work, that captivates our attention, thrills the senses and serves to expand and sharpen our perception of the natural world.

Artist Statement

… like, when I was doing Tiger Tiger, the recent work. I do them in the studio and then bring them inside and I just like to watch them, when they’re not watching me, and vice versa … and it was there, standing up against the table, and I went past it and just said ‘Tiger Tiger’, and I just knew that was its name, you see, and it was … it was the squareness, and the yellow flashing tiger crouching in the grass with grass all over its face, a sort of threat … as roadsigns are, and, to me, it was the right name. And as far as those things go, the fact of the retro-reflector, I’ve always liked the glint to be brought out. I don’t want it to be dramatically lit, but I do want it to sometimes flash at you, as road signs do, and then go sullen, then flash, like a living thing …


Rosalie Gascoigne, interview with Ewen McDonald, interview transcript, 1988, p.6, RG archive

I don’t want it to be dramatically lit, but I do want it to sometimes flash at you, as road signs do, and then go sullen, then flash, like a living thing

Rosalie Gascoigne, 1988

Rosalie Gascoigne

– About the artist

b.1917 d.1999

Rosalie Gascoigne is best known for her distinctive and poetic assemblages of found objects. She brought diverse materials from everyday life into new frames of reference, often working with items that had been discarded and left to weather, finding beauty in them that would normally be overlooked.

Learn more
– Other works by the artist

– View also


Related Exhibitions

In the Shop