For most of us, pets are like family. We hug them like children, coo at their cuddly faces. But the animals themselves do not repay this affection completely in kind. Their lives are largely devoted to more base pursuits, eating and reproducing being chief amongst them.

They have human qualities, it is true. They are peaceful in sleep, happy at play. But are these similarities a product of our imagination - our desire for them to be human - or are they inherent to the animals themselves?

Smyly's animal pieces explore these tensions to magnificent effect.

Clearly the artist has spent a lot of time in the company of animals. Her studio is host to a small menagerie - at present, three cats, two rabbits and six birds.

- Mark Rykoff, June 2005