"For Bataille, the paintings on the cave walls expressed a ‘burning presence’ and indecipherability. He was particularly intrigued why there were so few images of human figures compared to representations of animals, or human-animal hybrids. These paintings, he concluded, expressed an early attempt to ‘negate human life’ at the very point in which the conception of the human is born. The painters shared a poetic bond, now lost, with the animals and hybrid figures they conjured. Milledge, who conjures a ‘religious mood or attitude’ with her work, often returns to Bataille’s essays on Lascaux. I’ve seen this book on her shelf. It is rare to find a human form in her work that is not also part bird, or beast, or plant, or witch."
"Sometimes Milledge exhibits paintings leaning against the wall. Other times, and most often, she hangs them in place with small zoomorphic bronze objects she calls ‘close-readers’. These objects, which I see lying here and there on her studio table (no bigger than a pinky finger) or can be seen holding up the three paintings in the National Gallery of Victoria’s Collection, recall shrunken gargoyles and chimeras found on the exteriors of medieval architecture: stone monsters that perform the double function of warding off demons and acting as rainspouts. Gargoyles and chimeras are always fantastical hybrids that scream, laugh, gloat or pensively stare out at the world (presuming it to be evil) as they go about keeping rainwater from soaking the walls of a building. The expressions of Milledge’s close-readers are harder to discern, but they too serve a double function. They take up shapes that resemble microbats, snakes, insects and other animate forms found in the bush, but they also hold up the glass painting and participate in the experience of looking – reading – the work. They offer a symbolic commentary on the image they support, willing us to read it closely. They recall the apotropaic symbolism of gargoyles but, standing in for the picture frame, allow glass to float on the wall. And if we could hear them speak what would they say? Would they sing in unison, like a Greek chorus, about the works they support? Would they argue? Would they speak in incantations for the future or the past?"