Recognised as one of Australia’s foremost figurative painters, the two-time winner of the prestigious Archibald Prize for portraiture and UNSW Art & Design graduate, Del Kathryn Barton, has expanded her creative repertoire to embrace film.

For her directorial debut into the medium of the moving image, Barton gives audiences the short film, RED, starring Cate Blanchett, Alex Russell, Arella Plater, and the Sydney Dance Company's Charmene Yap.

Like everything Barton creates – including painting, sculpture, textiles, and now time-based-art – the outcomes are visually distinctive and deeply explorative of fertility, sex, death, and human relationships.

In a Q&A done at the Art Gallery of South Australia, Barton said the essential narrative in RED “illuminates the unusual mating rituals of the Australian Red Back spider. Here, our brave little male after copulating with the monumental female gently somersaults into her mouth, offering himself as a meal post-coital. If she is not hungry she will store his bound, dying body on her web for later consumption.” 

Barton further explained, “This brutal chronicle spoke to me of the poetics of female power as an inherent and indeed, elemental force in the universe.  By intercutting human protagonists with extraordinary macro footage, RED has evolved into what I now consider to be an uncompromising celebration of female power.”

The making of RED was made possible by $50,000 creative fellowship that Barton won from the Australian Film Television and Radio School in 2015. 

RED will premiere at the Art Gallery of South Australia as part of the Adelaide Festival this coming January and will run from January 26 to April 30.