Artist Amanda Paper standing in front of her work, Intrude, a very large white bunny

The Story of Intrude: Q&A with Artist Amanda Parer

Thu, Dec 23, 2021

Written by: Becca Hansborough

Pittsburghers love a good larger than life art installation, from the infamous giant yellow rubber duck to the 92-foot-tall Van Gogh balloon. Next comes Intrude, a family of four very large white rabbits illuminated with stark white light that are making their way to the Cultural District for Highmark First Night Pittsburgh. We sat down with the mastermind behind the bunnies, Amanda Parer, and discussed the inspiration behind the installation, the impact of the global pandemic on art, if the bunnies have names, and much more!

Q: Let’s start from the very beginning, what sparked your interest into the art world?
My mother was an artist and maybe in a different era she may have taken it on as a serious career path. My earliest memory of being mesmerized by art was when I used to watch her intently as she wove her magic, seemingly creating a ballerina out of thin air. In addition to my mother, I am a part of a family that has a history in the creative arts. Both my grand uncle Damien and uncle David were filmmakers, Damien even won Australia's first Oscar for his filmmaking during WW2! This was a good beginning, but the rest, I came to understand quickly, would just be lots of hard work on my part. I think talent is really a passion to pursue a certain goal, the rest is perspiration as they say.

Q: Back in an article by Commercial Appeal in 2017, art curator Andria Lisle explained that the inspiration behind choosing to bring Intrude to Memphis was to shine a light on a huge imbalance to the endemic species in Australia. Would you agree with this sentiment and has living through a global pandemic changed the meaning of your work for you?
When I first presented Intrude in 2014 in Sydney, it was for an Australian audience. Only several rabbits were brought by the first settlers to Australia in 1788 and since then they have made their home in every ecosystem causing destruction to native fauna and flora in their wake. For Australians the rabbit is both a symbol of cuteness reminding us of our childhood and a symbol of destruction. In Intrude, the rabbit is a metaphor for our mismanagement of the natural world. Soon after Intrude’s premiere in Sydney, the phone started to ring from around the world. I was a little nervous regarding how the artwork's back story would be received outside of Australia but as I traveled, found that it provided a starting point for more localized environmental issues to be discussed. People everywhere were fearful of climate change, and this provided a platform for the media and public alike to ‘nut out’ this issue a little more. Even though Intrude was first conceived in 2014, it is as relevant as ever. In my opinion, the global pandemic came about due to man overpopulating the planet and overusing its natural resources. This caused loss of habitat for other species and in turn us encountering animal diseases for which we have no inbuilt immunity for. If nothing else, I hope this global pandemic is teaching us to have more respect for what this planet provides.

Q: As of October 17, Melbourne specifically had spent more time under COVID-19 lockdowns than any other city in the world, with a total of 9 months. Were you still in Australia during this time and how much did art play a factor in getting you through that experience?
Yes, I was in Australia during this time, I have not traveled since the virus reared its head in 2019, by choice and the fact that our government closed our international borders to try and contain the situation. Our borders have only been recently opened to international travelers, since December 15, 2021. I wasn’t in Melbourne at the time but I saw how the 9 months of lockdown affected them. My family and I live on the island of Tasmania, an island just south of Melbourne. Tasmanians had a bit of a better experience due to having a natural mote, which proved in the end to be double protection against the virus. Australia and Tasmania both closed their borders and life in Tasmania has been relatively 'normal' since the first few months of 2020, but I made sure to stay in contact with my Melbourne family.

In terms of making art, I was lucky in that my work does not solely rely on our domestic market. During 2020 and 2021, even though there were many lockdowns and cancellations of events across the globe, what kept me buoyant were the places that were ready to open up to do what humans do best, which is to congregate and celebrate together in the context that my work is presented. In between those quieter moments I took the opportunity to create new work.

Q: Is this your first showing of Intrude since the start of the pandemic?
At the start of all this, I thought that I'd have to restructure my work for indoor exhibitions, but as cities began to re-open, a lot of opportunities to show my work at mostly outside events came about. I have been lucky to have been able to exhibit at least one of my works (Intrude, Fantastic Planet, Man or Lost) during the global pandemic, whether in Australia, Asia, Europe, or North America. But still, the pandemic has hit the arts industry as a whole quite hard and I am sorry to say, like in my own country of Australia, they have not been given any financial support to help them through.

Q: Are there any factors you consider when choosing cities where Intrude will be shown?
Intrude has been invited by curators to exhibit in their cities, in parks, on rooftops, plazas, bushland, forests – you name it. Being rabbits, they fit into and light up any environment in which they are shown. They have been designed to be in different poses to look like they have just hopped in and made themselves at home. The artwork is essentially weatherproof, except for wind. The Intrude rabbits are giant balloons so when choosing a location, we specify that the location be affected by low wind gusts only and the curator should be mindful of incoming wind patterns and the stability of the bunnies throughout the duration of the showing. However, the bunnies are weighed down with ballast internally and externally by a structural engineer to ensure they don’t easily blow away.

Q: Did anything specifically about Pittsburgh stand out to you when deciding to bring them here?
I am excited for the Pittsburgh exhibit because this will be the first time that the 50 ft. bunny, Intrude XXL, will be exhibited in an urban environment. This piece has only been exhibited only twice before: once in Seoul in 2017 and more recently in Charlotte NC for Charlotte SHOUT. I am looking forward to seeing images of our Bunzilla intruding on Pittsburgh's Cultural District.

Q: Can you briefly walk us through the initial design and creation process for Intrude?
When Intrude was first conceived in 2014, I made models of the rabbits out of clay, which were then digitally scanned. From this 3D digital image my makers created 21ft versions made of a parachute like material. I then consulted with lighting designers, engineers, and technicians to complete the artwork for exhibition. Now there are several bunnies in different poses and sizes, 6ft to 50ft, offered in the set. The evolution of technology has also impacted my work, learning new techniques and applications in which to make my art, helps enhance what I create.

Q: Final question, and this one is hard hitting, do the bunnies have names?
The simple answer is no, but back in 2014 when Intrude first began, I ran a crowdfunding campaign and considered allowing the main sponsors to name the bunnies as a gift. This did not come to fruition, but they did receive a different type of gift. However, the bunnies do get named by visitors at each exhibit and when I was able to travel alongside my work my favorite part was watching the public interact with them. There is often a lot of hugging and I even found lipstick kiss marks on them!

Q: Anything else you would like to share with Pittsburgh readers?
Most of my works to date, Intrude, Fantastic Planet, and Man, are made in white to contrast a large white illuminated silhouette against the frenetic coloured lights usually prevalent in any given urban space. Yet recently I have developed new coloured artworks called Lost, which are a set of eight bunches of giant illuminated extinct and endangered botanical species from around the globe. These can be placed in any given location to look like a giant garden is growing. People can sit amongst the flowers and plants, like Alice in her wonderland and contemplate. I hope that one day this new exhibition can also be enjoyed by the good people of Pittsburgh.

Intrude will be available for viewing as a part of Highmark First Night from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. Intrude XXL, standing 50 ft tall, will be located on the 8th street block of Penn Ave. The three smaller bunnies, 10 to 12 ft. tall, will be placed at the Trust Oasis, 133 7th Street. Intrude will remain in Pittsburgh until January 28, 2022. For more information about Highmark First Night Pittsburgh visit

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