Sara Freeman – Artist

Sara Freeman lives in Canberra Australia and is currently represented by Anita Traverso in Albert St Richmond, and was represented by Charles Hewitt in Sydney until they closed just recently. Her website is www.sarafreeman.cc

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What interests do you have other than art you feel are important to mention?
I work as a Paper Conservator, which is interesting, and involves looking at things in great detail, and examining the backs of things as well as the front. Some very inspiring accidental marks are found. Looking through a microscope can make something ordinary into something totally amazing. Somehow this all correlates with a meditation practice. Slowing down, looking deeper into the present moment…

What are the main medium/s you work in…
I paint on board, first priming with traditional rabbit skin glue gesso, and use paints I make from bees wax, pigments and egg tempera.

How do you describe your work, realistic, stylised, abstract, narrative, symbolic, other?
I guess it is abstract. I build up layers of colour to make big immersive fields, with transparent layers that can create a sense of depth. I then spend many hours carving back into the surface to create webs of fine lines or patterns that shimmer over the surface. I like the meditative nature of repetition in mark making, and am interested to see if the space I get into while making the work is transmitted to the viewer. And it seems that it does come across. People find the work very peaceful. It’s hard to see it on the computer screen, as the subtleties of the surface are lost.

What fascinates you?
I am not sure why, but webs of white lines, as fine as spider webs, rippling and shimmering, have fascinated me for the last 15 years. It’s been interesting finding different ways to make a white line.

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Why are you an artist?
I always made things and enjoyed drawing and painting. My father is a painter and the smell of turpentine is a smell of home to me. I think in colours and feelings easily, and painting is more expressive than words.

What is it about Visual Art you find compelling?
That it needs no words, or can reach beyond words, straight into the heart of the viewer – if it’s good.

Your art education was…?
Art was my favourite subject all through high school, but it took till my late thirties to feel courageous enough to go to Art School and lay my work out for critique. It’s always been very close to my heart, which makes it tender to criticism. I am lucky to have a family that encourages me to be an artist. We have writers and painters in the family so it’s normal to live an erratic creative life.

What caused you to choose the medium you currently work in?
Before I went to art school I painted in oils a lot, and lived and painted in the same large room. I think I overdosed in Damar varnish and solvent fumes, as I became quite intolerant of the smells and ill for a couple of years. It did however lead me to find less toxic paints and eventually I fell in love with egg tempera. It has a lovely subtley luminous quality unlike any other paint – hovering somewhere between oils and watercolours. It is interesting how different the nature is of different paints. I don’t think many artists really think about this. They just reach for the most convenient paint type perhaps. But the quality of each is slightly different, and I think it changes the way you paint.

How important do you think craftsmanship is to artistic creation?
Personally I am attracted to work that shows craftsmanship. Even if the work has a ‘slapped together’ aesthetic, this can be done with a certain quality that somehow makes the work have more strength, more reason to give it time looking. I am interested in the skilful use of materials. It may be out of fashion at the moment, but I think art is as much about skill as it is about concepts and ideas.

Have you ever made an artistic pilgrimage? If so, where did you go and why?
I went on a kind of pilgrimage to the Morandi Museum in Bologna in 2008. He is an artist who painted still life and landscapes, often the same scene from the window of the house he lived in most of his life, or the same bottles, jugs and vases, over and over. Turning them into beautiful serene pictures, using creamy paint made from earth pigments. His drawings are amazing. The museum has a room made out like his studio, very plain, with an easel and with all the bottles and vases that he collected and painted white, so he could study the shapes without being distracted by reflection. I think I admire his monastic devotion to painting, in its simplest, purified form. My studio and my life, by contrast, are filled with all the things I keep saying yes to.

 

Alexandre Prado – Artist

Alexandre Prado lives in Castlemaine VIC and has been making Visual Art professionally for the past 10 years. You can check out his website here.

What are the main medium/s you work in…
I work across different mediums and I am always curious about experimenting with new, often organic, materials. My main mediums are digital photography, video, sculpture (object based), and installation art.

Artist’s statement…
My practice explores themes that are concerned with the human condition and relationships with the natural and built environment. My work deals with micro-macro relationships that occur in nature. By removing objects from the natural environment and displaying them in constructed spaces, the work questions the status of these objects and our perceptions of the natural world. I work across a variety of media including video, photography, sculpture and installation art and I am influenced by ecology, sustainability and Zen Buddhism.

Does your work have social, political, cultural and or personal messages?
Well, I wouldn’t call them messages, but there are issues that I am passionate about which inspire me and inform my practice. If I had to narrow down to a key issue or concept, what I am most interested is how people in western industrialized countries have increasingly become separate from nature – which to me is a fundamental problem. Perhaps a problem that has led to where we are at, at this point in time and the challenges this planet is facing. Having said that, I don’t believe my art is all that serious and certainly not only about convening concepts, but also about exploring new ideas, materials and different mediums in a playful and experimental manner. I hope viewers are able to identify the playfulness in my practice.

What are you currently working on?
A series of drawings as well as continue to build “The Smallest of Things” series, creating landscape images with photographs of recent installations with moss.

What fascinates you?
Everything in this planet is interconnected and I am very interested in how small things play a part on the big picture. Lets look at bees for example; one third of all our food—fruits and vegetables—would not exist without pollinators visiting flowers. While there might be “survival of the fittest” within a given species, each species depends on the services provided by other species to ensure survival. It is a type of cooperation based on mutual survival and is often what a “balanced ecosystem” refers to.

There is a famous ancient zen saying that goes like this: “There is nothing bigger in this world than the tip of an autumn hair”. Apparently, hair grows thinner in autumn and the tip of an autumn hair was refereed in ancient Japan as being the smallest thing you could find.

Now give us a more descriptive outline on your current works.
A friend once told me that the line left on the sand when waves recede echoes the shape of its coastline.  Though I questioned its veracity, it was a good story that ignited curiosity, then research.  My attention, once held by macro landscape views, was now captured by the earth’s minutiae.  In micro soil patterns I saw aerial photos of landscapes and Google earth images. This led to an obsession with documenting, photographing, carving out and collecting these small squares of nature. In the gallery space, framed and contained, nature is positioned perpendicular to itself.

Your art education was…?
I have done a Bachelor of Fine Arts at RMIT, majoring in Sculpture. But I am also qualified Social Worker and I work part time in the community sector with refugee communities.


Was your education helpful, or a hindrance?
It was helpful because I was a mature age student and a practicing artist, and I knew exactly what I wanted to get out of the course.

Have you always been interested in art?
Yes, since I was a child I have always been interested in seeing and making art. Creativity has always been part of my life.

What did you do before or during becoming an artist?
I am originally from Brazil, Sao Paulo but I was living, working and studying in Europe in my early 20s. I lived initially in England and then Holland, and Scandinavia; and I also did a lot of traveling whilst in Europe.

What is your earliest memory of art?
Going to the Sao Paulo Biennale as a child. I was fascinated by the installations and remembering ‘entering’ what to me felt like dreaming worlds.

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Did the place where you grew up have an influence?
I think that my past in Brazil will always influence who I am and the art that I make. Culture is a very powerful and complex framework that can shape who we are and how we interact with the outside world. And certainly growing up in a concrete jungle like Sao Paulo where earth is so far removed from people’s realities, has influenced my practice and choices of materials.

Having said that, I am also a firm believer that we are all individuals and gender, class, ethnicity, political and spiritual beliefs – to name a few – also influence who I am and what I make. I have been fortunate to live in different countries and experience different cultures; which has made me question some of the values from where I come from as well as values from Australia. In a way, it has been a great and rich process that enabled me to embrace the values I agree with, and let go of others that I don’t want in my life. This is an ongoing process by the way.

Has your work changed much since your early efforts?
Absolutely. When I was at university even though I was experimenting and creating interesting and challenging works, there was an element of trying to please my lecturers and show them how “clever” I was. I think now I am much more true to concepts that I am interested , the process and materials I chose. I feel that my art is more grounded now, and hopefully there is less of an attention seeking element there.

You know you are successful in Visual Arts when…
You are happy with what you are making, know who is your audience, what are your motives for making art, and your art challenges who you are and continually pushes you to reinvent what you do. But most important, you haven’t lost the key ingredient (in my opinion) in art making – playfulness.

Does the “creative process” happen easily for you?
Ideas come up easily since I don’t feel like I am reinventing the wheel. One work leads to another and I try not to steer away from the ideas that inspire and motivate me. Having said that, the actual process of developing and resolving a body of work is far from easy, but incredibly challenging, demanding and consuming – but very exciting!

Creative streaks do they come in waves for you?
No, they are always there. But time to explore these creative streaks come in waves, since I am not able to fully support myself through art, have another profession as well as a family to support.

How important is the clarity of concept to you, prior to starting an artwork?
To me that’s absolutely critical. I have lots of ideas, materials and techniques that I would like to explore, but since, as I mentioned above, my time is limited, I feel that I have to be very clear and strategic about why and what I am exploring.

Do you have much contact with other artists?
Yes, contact with other artist is very important to me. I chose to live in Castlemaine because it has a large community of artists, writers and musicians. Also, because it’s not too far from Melbourne where I have another community of artists/friends. It is crucial for me to be surrounded and supported by people who are committed and engaged in the creative process. Not only in terms of discussing ideas and getting and giving feedback, but also in terms of validating my entire existence. An existence that is often uncertain and with financial constraints.

Working towards an exhibition, is it a daunting task?
Not daunting exactly, but the pressure can be very demanding, challenging and energy consuming. However, I get a buzz from deadlines and the pressure of putting yourself out there, coming up with work that’s interesting and engaging and being mindful of the self that wants to be acknowledged and hopes for some financial gain. Not that there is anything wrong with financial gain, quite the opposite, but you don’t want that to be driving the work.

What happens to works that “don’t work out”?
Well, hopefully they won’t get exhibited! But they are very important pieces of the puzzle. I have to monitor constantly the Alexandre that wants to always come up with works that “work out”, and constantly try to bring myself back to a state of play and to be process driven rather than driven by outcomes.

Do you hope the viewer will “get” what you are trying to communicate or do you feel compelled to spell it out to them?
I try to stay away from prescriptive work or “didactic” work. I often find it hard to write about my work and even resent to some extend that we have to do that nowadays. In my opinion a “good” work of art is multilayered, subjective and engages the viewers in various ways.

‘if it’s between death and magic’ by ryan mcgennisken

‘if it’s between death and magic’ by Ryan McGennisken
11 Feb – 24 Feb

Rambler Collective Presents Ryan McGennisken’s debut solo exhibition “if it’s between death and magic”.
As a child, Ryan was dragged by his parents, all over the country on camping trips, spending weeks at a time on the beach, living from fire cooked meals, fishing and building huts out of sticks; Ryan uses these experiences as a basis for his drawing ideas.
Ryan uses ink and watercolour to create worlds based on portions of nostalgia, dreams and current realities.
“If it’s between death and magic” tells a story of survival, intrepidness and the journey of lost souls, on the quest to find a new liveable environment away from a deconstructed, over used planet.

Ryan’s video

Opening night: 6-9 Sat Feb 11

Latrobe Contemporary Gallery
209 Commercial Rd, Morwell, VIC
0403 341 664
lcontemporary@gmail.com
wed-Fri: 10am-4pm
Sat-Sun: 10am-2pm

Everybody is invited to join the artist for a night of refreshments in a comfortable welcoming environment.

www.ramblercollective.com
checkin@ramblercollective.com

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Getting there:

By car - http://maps.google.com.au/maps?hl=en&tab=wl

By train (from Melbourne) – V-line tickets can be purchased from Flinders St or Southern Cross. The train generally runs hourly to Morwell and takes approx. 1.5 hours to arrive.

The gallery is on the opposite side of the train station on Commercial Rd.

Accommodation in the town is sufficient and will take a measly google search to find something cheap.

Train also runs late into the night to return back to Melbourne. You could see yourself back in Melbourne by 11pm with the night still young.

I really hope to see you all here for a great night!

Scott Petrie – Profile

‘FRESH’ ARTWORKS BY SCOTT PETRIE:

Sydney exhibition opens 19 November

Expat Australian painter Scott Petrie returns to Sydney this month to showcase 15 of his new artworks.

Entitled ‘Fresh’ this exhibition is a marked departure from his previous collections and has been inspired by living and working in Singapore.

“I really want to shake things up in my creative practice. The past year in Asia has opened my eyes to a new wave of ideas – it is all about exploring fresh colours like mixing up hues of green, teal and jade and harnessing a fresh focus,” says Scott.

“I love painting in-situ and that is what this exhibition is all about. It is like a breath of fresh air for me to work in a new environment and I am delighted to reveal this to art collectors in Sydney.”

The artist has been “utterly enthralled” by the varied local cultural life in Singapore, which is reflected in his paintings.

“I always take in the different smells and visual life as I walk past all the locals eating at the bustling hawkers markets which juxtaposes with the array of green parks and coloured flowers also present in Singapore and its surrounds.”

He says: “Living in Asia has opened my eyes to new cultures, new religions, new cuisines and new colours. My works celebrate the mixture of all these senses and luckily my studio is located in one of the oldest commercial buildings surrounded by bush and riverside.

Next up Scott is also preparing for a major group exhibition organised by the Australian high commission in Singapore, with the Associate Dean of the UNSW College of Fine Arts Dr Vaughan Rees, which opens in April 2012.

‘Fresh’ is on view at his long time art agent Eugenie Pepper’s eastern suburbs home from Saturday 19 November until Friday 23 December 2011. Viewings are strictly by appointment and made by contacting Eugenie Pepper on astroartdesign@me.com.

Here are some images from Scott’s portfolio

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Gillian Turner – Artist in Residence

I interviewed Gillian a while back and was amazed at her images while an artist in residence, she mentioned she would be doing another residency in Ireland so I invited her to write about the experience. Well here it is folks! Enjoy!

Gillian Turner

From 1 July to 1 August this year, I was an International Artist in Residence in the remote area of Ballinskelligs. Co.Kerry, Ireland. My home at Cill Rialaig was a restored famine cottage about 5km from the nearest village.

This remarkable artist retreat has six cottages, a Meeting House and laundry room. The view from my cottage door was astonishing: an uninterrupted vista across some remains of ancient cottages, over nearby fields to rugged a headland, then ocean and distant hills beyond the town of Waterville.

The changing colours were stunning and every morning was a delight – no matter what the weather – the light and colour were superb.

My cottage consisted of 4 rooms: kitchen, bathroom, loft bedroom and a large open area which is general living space and studio. The glass-ceiling studio is hidden from the road, and its modern design comes as a surprise after the rugged look of the stone exterior.

Light floods in and given the length of the summer days here, that amounts to a great deal even on days of continuous rain.  Experiencing the Irish landscape in such weather was great: the Atlantic Ocean pounding rocks, the sound of the sea all night and the cosiness of working inside while rain lashed down had its own special rewards. Apart anything else, I created some spectacular ‘rain works’  just outside my door!!

Over the four weeks there were  about 7 artists in residence plus me; most were from various parts of Ireland with one from Scotland, another from France, and myself being from somewhere impossibly distant! The atmosphere was welcoming and friendly but with understanding of the privacy that such an artists’ retreat needs. Some artists were there only for a week or ten days, others for two weeks. My four weeks residency was unusually long and an acknowledgement of the distance I’d travelled from Australia.

My other neighbours were sheep – flocks of them! These lovely animals provided me with some interesting wool to make brushes, and they are great characters as they wander with total freedom around the cottages and tracks. They will even try to visit the studio, and I was advised to keep the lower half of my door closed!

The peace of this place, the aloneness was comfortable, and one of the benefits of such a location where there is little distraction: no TV, no internet and no passing traffic. It allowed complete immersion in the process of creating art, of writing, and being at one with the land.

The wild flowers were superb in July, especially wild red fuchsia which was in abundance.

The walk to the beach cafe – the nearest  WIFI for internet, a decent coffee and chat with the locals – took nearly an hour. I could do it in about forty minutes, but the lure of photographing the landscape or writing about it was often more powerful than the desire for a coffee and reading emails!

Cill Rialaig is about being in the land, feeling its nearness and experiencing its many moods: silent shrouding fog that set my cottage in the clouds for two days, lashing rain and high winds from the Atlantic that occasionally rattled the roof and howled around all night, the breath-taking clarity of early morning light, and the stillness of the full moon on a warm evening. Yes, and even swimming on Ballinskelligs beach in the coldest sea on a very hot summer afternoon.

This residency also offered me time to write as well as continue my visual arts work. In the end, the two came together in what has become an ongoing project: The Wandering Skellig Monk – An Unexplained Journey.  Beginning as a poetic response to Skellig Michael (Great Skellig Rock), this developing fiction includes an extended poem, drawings, and the start of a ‘found artifacts’ collection that will, I hope, be part of an installed exhibition.

Cill Rialaig is a rare opportunity for artists and is in serious need of support. Artists pay only a nominal amount for electricity and water during their time in the cottage. Financially things are tight everywhere in Ireland, and this must necessarily impact on such a place as Cill Rialaig; it is located in one of the jewels of Ireland: the Ring of Kerry.

The landscape is stunning and the generosity of the locals is wonderful. I was offered the chance of a lifetime, and for that I am very grateful. The great news is that I’ll be returning to Ireland next year to work in the Burren, and then  returning to Cill Rialaig in 2014, which seems impossibly distant, but I look forward to immersing myself in the Kerry landscape again.

Gillian   November 2011

www.gillianturner.com.au

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Gillian Turner Cill Rialaig

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Exhibition – Connie Noyes

Connie Noyes, her name seems to pop up everywhere for new exhibitions, this time a show in Chicago at the Blanc gallery.

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Exhibition – Scott Petrie

Scotts work will be on show at Astro Art in Randwick

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Exhibition – “Exchange”

The big Contemporary Visual Art project Amanda van gils has been working on. NOTE! many of these artists are interviewed right here! start searching!

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Kim Anderson – Artist

Kim Anderson lives in Ballarat, Victoria (when she’s not in a residency somewhere…) not currently represented by a gallery but is looking for one… here’s her web site. www.kim-anderson.com.au

Kim has done some residencies, here is a diary of some time spent in Japan, interesting reading…

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How long have you been making art?

For as long as I can remember I was always drawing, writing and working on various little creative projects of one kind or another.  It’s not something I really even thought about, it was more automatic in the sense that I just did it and assumed that everyone else did too.  I guess I’ve always felt compelled to express myself visually.

I’m not exactly sure whether you would consider it “art”, but I even went through a phase of making crafty objects for a while, setting up a little card table on our corner block, and attempting to sell my creations to passers-by – unfortunately on a bush block in the sleepy town of Buninyong there were not all that many customers.  Apart from a few sympathetic neighbours offering 20 cents for a decorated toilet roll (excellent pencil holders!), the “business” didn’t really take off.  In hindsight, my drawings were probably a lot better…

I don’t remember how old I was when I first received a tinned set of 36 Derwent pencils for Christmas, but they were extremely precious to me and I took them everywhere along with a sketchbook.  I always wanted the 72-set in the wooden box, but these were still pretty special.  They were lovingly kept in perfect colour order, and not shared with anyone else.  I still have them now, although a rubber band has taken the place of the tin and certain colours have been worn down to stubs.  I don’t work so much with coloured pencils now, but they still remain sitting in an old lolly tin in my studio like some kind of symbolic reminder of a lifetime of drawing, one way or another.

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Artist’s statement…

The age-old theme of the body inspires my work in drawing and installation. Often using my own body as subject, I am continually fascinated by the expressive potential of the hands, feet and skin, as well as the delicate structures and hidden processes taking place internally. I believe that the physical self must surely be considered the starting point for all psychological understanding: it is the vehicle for the emotions, the tangible presence by which we are known to others, and the most immediate tool through which our invisible inner psyche is able to manifest itself and act upon the world.

A recent development in my practice has been to take this interest in the body much further and explore the parallels to be found in both the built and natural world, whether it be an overt bodily reference, inferred likeness, or merely a trace left behind by a hand or foot. In essence, I am interested in the notion that a physical space can take on the characteristics and evoke the same emotions as a human body. Through constant wear our bodies bear the inscriptions of our life experience, our passions and fears and memories layered over one another like a palimpsest, and so too does the surface of place function in the same way.

In constantly wanting to challenge the capacity of my drawing, my practice has evolved from the production of more traditional works on paper to working ephemerally with installation. Using techniques such as projection and drawing directly onto the walls and floor, I explore the use of alternative surfaces and spaces. My original drawings on paper become transformed by light, scale and the distortions produced by using a three-dimensional space as my working surface. I am continually seeking ways in which to combine these ideas and bridge the gap between my work in two and three dimensions.

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What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a new series of work that represents an experimental foray into the area between my two-dimensional drawings on paper and my spatial installations: it is a playful attempt to bridge the gap between the “white page” and the “white cube”.  By folding, curling and cutting holes in the paper, I am aiming to transform the flat page into a miniature three-dimensional architectural space with which the figures appear to interact.  A fold becomes the perfect hiding place; a hole becomes a window for a quick escape route.  Partially hidden, figures tumble over curves and hide around corners, with the potential to disappear from sight at any moment.  I’m hoping to exhibit these new works sometime next year, so stay tuned…

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Artist… got into art because… and your education?

I honestly don´t know why I am an artist.  I guess there was some element of choice in it somewhere, but I often feel that no matter what I would have attempted to do with my life, I would always have come back to art somehow.  A friend of mine once made the comment: “I didn´t choose art, it chose me” – and I really feel that’s true.  I don´t want to sound too mystical about it all, but it’s like people of a religious order responding to what they describe as a “higher calling”.  As I said earlier, it’s something that I´ve always done without really questioning it until about the age I’m at now (grand old 31).

As well as maintaining a passion for dance for about 17 years and being determined I was going to be a ballerina, I also remember telling my parents that I was going to be an artist at a fairly tender age.  I do recall a passing interest in architecture when my father informed me that architects make more money, but that didn’t last all that long.  In high school, possibly influenced by the Patricia Cornwell novels I was voraciously reading at the time, I thought I was going to be a forensic pathologist and covered a wide range of subjects from art to drama to chemistry and biology.  At the end of year 12 I was really unsure what I wanted to do and so decided to pursue my love of writing with a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing.  But – somehow – art called me back, and I then completed my Honours Degree in Fine Art at the University of Ballarat.

After that I was dabbling a little bit here and there whilst working some part time jobs, then in 2005 I went to Japan to teach English.  During that time I went through a fairly traumatic relationship breakup and became seriously ill, and it was that experience that made me realise that I only have one chance in life and it made me determined to pursue the thing I loved most, which was my art.  Since then I´ve also done a Postgraduate Certificate in Art Conservation Studies (although discovered that I much preferred making the art to fixing it), and was also awarded a scholarship that enabled me to undertake my Master of Fine Art at the University of Dundee in Scotland.  From there it just seems to have taken off and, while sometimes I wish I lived a more stable existence, I can´t imagine doing anything else.  I wouldn´t be being true to myself if I wasn´t making my art – it’s like my most fundamental means of expression.  I guess part of the beauty of being an “artist” is that under that umbrella title, you can explore anything.

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Was your education helpful, or a hindrance?

I think my education was definitely helpful, and I always feel that I want to do more – a PhD is in the offing someday when I’m ready…  Particularly with my post-grad education I’ve relished that opportunity to research, write, question and really interrogate my art practice – in fact I miss that intensity when I’m out in the “real world”.  My education has helped me to develop the capacity to think critically about my work (perhaps too critically sometimes), and to question where it fits within a contemporary context.  It’s perhaps clichéd to say, but you can never stop learning or questioning – especially not as an artist.

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Was art a “thing” that was encouraged in your family?

I think art was mildly appreciated, but my family never really went out of their way to participate in or view it – only ever if I dragged them to it or was directly participating in something myself.  Of course they’ve never actively prevented me from pursuing my artistic activities – no doubt in the hope that I would get it out my system one day – but it was definitely not encouraged or even accepted as a viable career.  I’ve had to really struggle with my immediate and particularly my extended family for them to actually take me seriously and realise that I’m not a “dole bludger” – and I still find myself up against that prejudiced view on occasions.  It’s only recently, after having received a few really big grants and had some overseas residencies, that they’ve actually come to terms with the fact that this is essentially my job and it’s a lot of hard work.

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What caused you to choose the medium you currently work in?

I’ve always primarily been a drawer – I find it to be the most simple and direct interaction between mind and body.  Perhaps also it’s the control, although sometimes I wish I could be more spontaneous and just throw paint (and anything else) at a canvas.  I suspect I was permanently scarred by the unfortunate explosion of a clay Easter bunny in the school kiln at about age 5, and by almost cutting off my finger while trying to build a canvas in about year 10 at school – therefore ceramics and oil painting were out!

On a practical level drawing is portable and doesn’t require much space or mess – it can be done virtually anywhere.  On most of my travels I’ve only ever had to take a sketchbook and a pencil case full of pencils, charcoal and drawing pens – easy!    Which leads me to my Master of Fine Art degree undertaken at the University of Dundee in Scotland…  I turned up with little more than my pencil case, but with the opportunity to “play” in a project space it opened up the possibilities of actually creating installations with my drawing and working more ephemerally.  Ever since then, I have continually tried to challenge the capacity of drawing as a medium, exploring the myriad of ways it can be used and combined with other techniques.

The idea of cross-disciplinary research and collaboration is something that really excites me, having been opened up to these possibilities when I was in Scotland.  I’d like to pursue this further at some point, perhaps even incorporating various forms of performance and/or technology into my work, and even collaborate with people outside the visual arts – the possibilities are endless…  I think I’m too restless to keep on doing the same thing all the time, and I’d find it really unsatisfying artistically.

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Does the creative process happen easily for you or perhaps does it come in waves for you?

I find myself constantly struggling with the creative process – it’s always a roller coaster and definitely happens in waves.  Unfortunately you can’t just switch it on and off, and the creative streaks probably flow much more easily when I have a deadline to work towards such as an exhibition.  I always struggle with the motivation to work in a vacuum as I often feel like I’m lacking in purpose – that’s when I find myself easily distracted by other things.  Funnily enough, when I’m in that intensive state before a show I always yearn for some time and space to simply play and explore, and yet when I do have that time the playing and exploring just doesn’t seem to happen – the grass is always greener on the other side!

I am starting to learn that you can’t just be making work all the time, and really there are very few artists who are able to do that.  The process of creation is somewhat exhausting because you pull all of these things out from the very depths of your soul, often kicking and screaming, into the light and ultimately for public view – it takes a huge amount of energy to do that.  Once I’ve reached my limit to the point of feeling empty I need to allow myself time to “fill up” again.  It’s much more difficult to do than it sounds – I often feel guilty if I’m not working all the time.  I’ve recently been going through just such an “empty” phase after a really intense residency in Japan where I had to pull together a solo exhibition of new work in a little over two weeks – nothing like pressure!!!  It was exhilarating but exhausting, and I’ve been feeling completely physically, emotionally and creatively drained to the point of paralysis.  Slowly slowly I’m managing to crawl out of that black hole and rejoin the world again, even to the point of being able to make some work – and damn it feels good! Nothing like a majorly overdue deadline to get me going again – but hey, whatever works.

I’m just starting to learn that it’s okay to take time out to read, watch films, listen to music, visit galleries and go to theatres – or just sit in the sun and breathe and take in my surroundings.  It will all inform my art practice and trigger another creative streak somehow…

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Some say the lifespan of many “artists” post educationally is about five years, any thoughts on that?

I am determined to prove this statement wrong – so far so good, although it’s definitely not easy.  It’s really only been three years since I finished my Master of Fine Art so I’ve got a bit of a way to go, although I seem to have done a hell of a lot in that time and things seem to be just starting to take off – which is why I’m absolutely NOT about to let go and give up just now…  I’ve managed to pursue my art practice virtually full-time, but it’s a constant struggle and I feel like I’ve sacrificed a more “normal” and stable existence for the sake of my art.  I guess, to my advantage, I’m in a situation where I can do so – it’s just me, my pencil case and a suitcase!  In a way the experiences I’ve had through travelling for my art are worth so much more than a house, car, possessions etc – at least that’s what I try to keep telling myself…

Despite the personal benefits I mentioned earlier, art school education doesn’t really teach you how to survive as a professional artist and I don’t think there’s really any clearly defined career path you can take.  It’s all about seeking out opportunities as well as creating your own.  No one’s going to know you exist unless you get yourself and your work out there and make yourself known – they’re certainly not going to come knocking on your door looking for the next amazing talent (I wish…!!!)  I find a large amount of my time involves writing applications and proposals for grants, residencies, funding etc. – it’s the only way I’ve been able to survive over the last couple of years.  And that’s not something I learnt about in art school – I only really became aware of such things through the wonderful supervisor I had in Scotland.  I think of this whole art business as a 30-year apprenticeship – you’re basically learning on the job.  You’re an “emerging artist” until you’re about 60, and famous when you’re dead!

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Have you had any ¨big breaks¨ in your career?

I don´t know about ¨big breaks¨ – in fact I’m still waiting for the really BIG one that sets me up for life (yeah right!) – but I do have a great determination to seek out every opportunity I can.  I don´t believe so much in luck, I think a person makes their own luck – it’s simply a matter of keeping your eyes and ears open for anything and everything that comes along.  As mentioned, I spend an awful lot of time researching opportunities and writing applications, with perhaps a 5-10 percent success rate at best.  I am collecting a folder of rejection letters that I’m planning to use for a project some day…  I’ve no doubt I’ll have enough to cover the Great Wall of China!

The best thing for my career so far was, after writing God knows how many applications, being awarded that scholarship to study my Masters in Scotland – it opened so many doors for me and expanded my knowledge of the “art world” and the opportunities that are out there.  I was lucky to have a wonderful supervisor who really introduced me to the notion of writing applications and applying for residencies and funding – before that I had very little knowledge that such things existed or that even little old nobody me could apply.

Since graduating I’ve undertaken a curatorial internship for a contemporary arts organisation called Deveron Arts in Scotland, had an Australia Council International Studio Residency in Rome, had two residencies in Hill End (NSW), and one in Echigo-Tsumari, Japan.  Last year I was extremely fortunate to receive an ArtStart Grant from the Australia Council, which has really helped me to establish some of the business aspects of my art practice such as a website, portfolio, and some basic equipment etc.  I spent weeks agonising over every single word of that application (as I do with most), but it paid off and I would not have been able to establish any of those essential marketing tools without that financial assistance – I guess being able to do that has been a “big break” in a way.

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Do you keep an Art Journal or Visual Diary of some kind?

I SHOULD be more diligent about keeping a journal all the time, but never seem to be able to do so when I’m in my usual routine, apart from using it to make thumbnails of various compositions (or scribble various “notes to self” and shopping lists…)  I kept journals all the way through art school which contained my research, notes, sketches, thumbnails etc., and whenever I’ve been away on a residency I’ve also had the discipline and the urge to write and draw almost every day.  When I’m away somewhere “special” I feel much more compelled to record my experiences and draw anything and everything, whereas at home I don’t set aside the time to do so.  I feel forever guilty about this and keep promising myself I’ll start using my journal more often…

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How important is it to you that your work communicates something to the viewer?

I suppose what I really hope for is that my work moves the viewer at some level, even if they can’t articulate exactly what it makes them feel or think in words.  I do try to explain my work to a certain extent with artist’s statements etc, partly because writing about it helps me to understand it better, but I’m not particularly concerned if despite all that people still just don’t “get it”.  Many of them probably never will, and that’s absolutely fine for me – you can’t please everyone.  One thing that I can’t stand is when my grandmother, a diligent and dutiful attendee at all of my exhibitions, takes a quick walk around to glance at the work and announces “very nice Kimberlee, but I don’t understand it”, and then waits for me to explain.  I don’t expect her to, and perhaps it’s rather contrary of me to deliberately ignore such statements but to be honest I couldn’t care less!

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What is the most unexpected response you’ve received from a viewer of your work?

In September/October last year I had a solo exhibition at the Counihan Gallery in Brunswick, Melbourne, titled “Soul/Skin/Space”, which had been inspired by a residency I did in Rome in 2009.  It involved a combination of elements including a digital projection (my first attempt to do such a thing), some smaller drawings on very fine conservation tissue, and two large-scale wall drawings which I actually worked on continually throughout the 3-week duration of the show.  One day towards the end of the exhibition when I had almost completed the second wall drawing (I was up on a ladder by this point), I noticed a lady come in and spend quite a lot of time looking closely at my smaller drawings.  They were images of little broken fragments of statues which I had photographed in the Villa Giula Etruscan Museum in Rome, all looking rather sad and abandoned.  The lady came over to me and asked if I was the artist that had drawn them – I said that I was.  She then put her hand on her heart and said that they were so beautiful they´d made her cry.  I was so taken aback I almost fell to my knees and cried myself.  She was so genuine because I could see it in her face and hear it in her voice, and it meant so much to me that I had affected just one person so much with my artwork – to know I´d moved someone so emotionally made me feel that what I do is possibly worthwhile.  That exhibition was a really interesting experience to actually be working in the space and meeting the people who came to see it – usually artists don´t get that opportunity when we just hang our work on the walls and hope for the best.  If I hadn’t been there working that day I would never have known the power of my own artwork.

Perhaps a less inspiring but more amusing response occurred when I was showing my brother around an exhibition I had at the Art Gallery of Ballarat last year.  While Ryan (my brother) was looking at the drawings and I was loitering anonymously in the corner, another group of people came in and were looking at my drawing titled “The Permanent Teeth” when one of them gasped and exclaimed “Oh it’s horrible, just horrible!”.  Obviously they didn’t know I was the artist and I could only laugh at such a strong reaction – I guess anatomy doesn’t appeal to everyone!

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People around you (family friends etc.) what would they say about the way you work, the moods you have, your life as an artist etc?

Oh god, the rollercoaster, the mood swings…  I’m sure it’s exhausting to witness – I swear they think I’m bipolar (probably not far from the truth…)  I just need them to be understanding when I’m paralysed with depression, and to help me celebrate when I reach the heights of elation, and that’s about as much as they can offer.

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Do you work from life, or from photographs or from imagination or some other method?

I pretty much work mostly from photographs these days, although sometimes from life depending upon the subject matter.  Often I collect things to draw – my series “A Natural Comparison” is the perfect example featuring natural objects I collected during my first residency in Hill End.  The only problem with this method is that my studio is becoming more and more crammed with random collections of things – leaving less room to actually make the work!

I wish I could draw from my imagination and I really admire people who can, but unfortunately I don’t seem to have that skill.  In my mind’s eye I can visualise the composition, but that’s about as far as it goes.  Sometimes the composition or idea comes first and then I take photographs to suit it, other times the photographs inspire the idea.  Either way, I only ever work from photographs I’ve taken myself – appropriating other peoples’ images, even anonymous ones from the internet, is not something I feel comfortable with.  The photography itself also becomes part of the whole process of making my work.

Recently I’ve been experimenting with a series of drawings that incorporates images of my own body which has involved a lot of contorted positions, mirrors placed at strategic angles, and my camera on self-timing mode.  If anyone were to peer into my studio at times like these they’d probably be rather concerned as to what on earth was going on!  Being rather a control freak and a perfectionist I can’t quite bring myself to ask someone else to take the pictures for me.

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When you create your work is it somehow an emotional relief as you do it or at the end?

More and more my work is becoming about the process of making rather than the finished product.  In fact, quite often I become so immersed in the work – in “the zone” so to speak (which is a fantastic place to be!) – I often feel rather empty when it’s completed.  Part of the reason for this has been my recent progression towards installation projects and making more ephemeral artworks.  Knowing from the first inception that these works are not going to last means that from the very beginning I am fully aware that they will cease to exist and therefore I can avoid becoming too attached to them.  It’s a different way of working, and of thinking about my work – in some ways I think it makes it even more unique because it has been created specifically for a particular space in a particular time.  Some of these works can be thought of as “events” rather than “exhibitions” – in fact, some of the really large-scale wall drawings I’ve done are extremely physical and gestural, and could almost be thought of as a performance in their creation.  I would like to pursue this idea someday, pulling upon my dance background (of 17 years no less!) in creating some kind of performance / artwork.  Sometimes, I have to admit, I do feel a little sorry that my wall drawing of approximately 70-80 hours’ work is to be scrubbed off in the space of an afternoon…

Of course, what’s really important for these works is the documentation – as long as it has been documented, and/or witnessed by an audience, then I believe it still has had a valid existence.   Actually – this really raises so many theoretical questions about what constitutes an artwork and whether it is actually “completed” when and only when it is witnessed by an audience…  Perhaps we can save that discussion for a rainy evening and a few glasses of red…?!

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Would you say your works reveal something private about yourself?

All of my work is a self portrait in some sense, it is a way of expressing something deep inside myself that cannot really be put into words – I guess most artists would probably say the same thing.  I’ve always been fascinated by the connection between the body and the mind, and the fact that quite often there is very little correlation between external appearance and internal experience – that human predicament of being a consciousness trapped inside a physical, decaying and often unpredictable body.

Maybe it sounds a little self-obsessed, but my work has often involved an intensely personal journey of close bodily scrutiny – partly in an attempt to try and scrutinise the psychology that lies behind that.  During my undergraduate years I spent many hours drawing myself in front of the mirror, trying to get the folds around my eyes exactly right, erasing and redrawing my nose and mouth a hundred times.  But I always felt that the end result was somewhat untruthful, merely a portrait of the mirror and not a true representation of what I felt on the inside.  What became apparent to me was that the face can mask more than reveal true emotion.

So I began to search for expressive potential in other parts of the body, and was particularly drawn to the hands and feet.  They are tough yet sensitive, dexterous and yet somehow vulnerable, and can be highly demonstrative of complex emotions.  In closely examining the lines and creases in my skin, and the patterns and scars that are unique to me, I guess I’m continually searching for some inner truth about myself.

Even my interest in anatomy (apart from that previous desire to be a forensic pathologist) is in many ways a search for some physical indication of the inner psyche, or soul, and what it might look like.  In many ways I feel that my work is a somewhat “safe” medium through which to lay bare my passions, fears and memories for the viewer.

I don’t know if I’ve explained that very well…?

What is an indulgence for you?

On a Sunday afternoon (my only “non-jogging” day), whenever I can, I like to go for a walk, then find a quiet café or bar where I can be completely anonymous and sit with my Art Almanac or Art Monthly and a glass of wine.  It seems to be the only time I ever allow myself the luxury to read my art magazines as I never do so at home, which makes me wonder why I subscribe…  But then if I keep getting them, I can keep on treating myself to this little indulgence!

What is your work space like?

My current work space is my brother’s old bedroom in my parents’ house – which I am desperate to get out of.  It’s not ideal – the light isn’t great and no matter how sunny it is outside it’s always cold in there.  It’s full of clutter at the moment which is totally distracting and driving me crazy!  The admin stuff just takes over and suddenly I find myself with no place to work on my drawings – plus the things I collect and my own unsold works mean that the space is becoming increasingly smaller.  I find if my physical space is messy then my headspace is definitely a mess…  Hopefully, fingers crossed, I will have a better living and working space soon – I’m definitely looking…  I’m starting to realize that having a good working space provides the motivation to work more – it’s so much more pleasurable having a studio that you actually want to spend time in.

I can’t complain too much though – I’ve been really lucky to have had some amazing working spaces around the world.  The Australia Council studio at the British School of Rome was a highlight – huge high ceiling, amazing light, a tiny mezzanine bedroom with bathroom underneath, and the rest was just wonderful open space.  Maybe the fact it was in Rome made it all the more amazing…

What has encouraged you to keep working as an artist?

I don’t really know why I keep going, other than an utter compulsion that this is absolutely what I have to do with my life.  I guess it is that feeling that I’ve only got one chance in life and I do not want to spend it feeling dissatisfied and somehow empty – I’d rather be completely destitute and in a situation where I can keep making my work than let a full-time job take over only because I feel like that’s what I should do in order to satisfy everyone else’s expectations.

It’s a long hard road and there’s no guarantee that I’m actually ever going to “make it”, but there have been some small glimmers of hope recently that things might continue to progress upwards – which is why I’m not ready to let it all go just yet.  To be truthful I really do have a love-hate relationship with my art, but in the end when I really question it, I couldn’t and wouldn’t do anything else.  For me it is a rather personal journey, and any financial gain is simply a bonus, but at the very least I hope that I can move people in some small way – whether it be purely aesthetically, or on a much deeper level emotionally or psychologically.  When there is the slightest evidence of this it is highly rewarding.

Exhibition – Lisa Lee

Lisa Lee’s next show.

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Exhibition – The flash mob

The guys at 100th Gallery in Prahran are at it again. Photography this time, go check out the tiny gallery space and marvel at emerging and maturing Artists doing their bit to check out the human condition.

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Exhibition – Leonie Ryan – Australian Made

Leonies exhibition should show an interesting progression from her earlier works, I look forward to seeing it at the Yarra Sculpture Gallery 117 Vere St Abbotsford.

Be sure and check out Leonies interview right here.

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Exhibition – Hazel Dooney

You are invited to a special event hosted by Latrobe Contemporary Gallery at 12pm Saturday the 10th of September, 209 Commercial rd Morwell Victoria.

‘Coffee and Cake with Hazel Dooney’
This will be a rare opportunity for Gippsland students and artists to experience some one-on-one question an answer time with
controversial Australian artists Hazel Dooney who has generously pledged her time to talk in particular about how to establish an independent career using the internet as a means. Hazel will al so stay for the opening at 6.30pm as well as a few of the contributing artists for ‘Dreaming Hazel Dooney’.

please join in this unique experience.

For more Information contact
Steph Shields
Latrobe Contemporary Gallery
0403341664
http://dreaminghazeldooneylcg.blogspot.com/
www.latrobecontemporarygallery.com.au

More “Peel Your Eyes”

The ‘Peel Your Eyes’ exhibition opened with about 500 in attendance! Some sort of record for this type of exhibition, here’s the write up in the Geelong Advertiser. On daily from 12 – 7pm until the 16th Sept 2011.

© 2011 Geelong Advertiser

Exhibition – Exchange

The latest project from the legendary Amanda van gils EXCHANGE – 55 Contemporary Visual Artists from around the Australia all exhibiting small scale work in November. NOTE! Many of these Contemporary Visual Artists have been interviewed here on the blog!

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For the past four years I have organised ‘art swaps’ amongst friends, in the first year there were 12 of us. It is an initiative that has grown each year and this year is the first time the annual art swap will be exhibited. For the Exchange exhibition, each artist will make one work to swap and another one to be available for sale.
Art works range in price from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand and include paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, digital works and a whole host more.
If you can’t get to Maryborough Qld where the show will be you will be able to view (and purchase) works via our ArtWhatsOn site that will be launched in time for the November show. In the meantime you can follow the progress of the exhibition via Facebookand Twitter

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Some of you might recall that I raised funds via FundBreak for the Net Work exhibition I curated at the Art Gallery of Ballarat. Fundbreak has changed it’s name to Pozible and I am again raising money for a small catalogue for the Exchange exhibition.
I want you to know that on Pozible I am offering a small selection of my own art works at heavily reduced prices. Only available at these prices through Pozible and only for 30 days.
In addition to my own work there are ’rewards’ available for even very small donations. To see the ‘rewards’ on offer please go to ‘Exchange’ on Pozible

Cheers Amanda van gils

Exhibition -Peel your eyes

When a pop up gallery gets on steroids it really gets big! 30 Artists, lots of interest and intrigue. Right here in Geelong… well done to Stephanie Tribe and team.

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Exhibition – 100th Gallery

Charles at 100th Gallery would like to invite you to join him and the Artists Colin Topp and Rachel Buse to their new exhibition.

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Stephanie Beck – Artist

Stephanie Beck is a Contemporary Visual Artist from Brooklyn, NY

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Artist’s statement…
I am inspired by images of archaeological sites, architectural history, aerial photos and my own explorations through various cities. My work plays with the manipulation of space and architectural structures; exploring patterns of settlement and structural design within real and imagined cities, in two and three-dimensional forms. I am interested in the formal qualities of architecture and also in how architecture reflects, or, alternatively, forms the lives and beliefs of the people who construct it. I see buildings and structures as surrogates for ourselves and use them to investigate and illustrate our human frailties.

But secretly I am most driven by a sense of wonder and play.

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What are you currently working on
A piece inspired by the complex compression of space in the DUMBO area of Brooklyn, where I am attending a studio residency.

Why are you an artist?
Because it’s usually fun, often exciting, sometimes scary and always interesting. I feel it is where my greatest talent lies and it is the most authentic and meaningful work that I can do—it is the way I can live my fullest life.

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How important is art for you?
Making, viewing, thinking about and discussing art is how I have chosen to live my life, so it’s fundamental to me and how I see the world. But I also am aware of its importance to humanity—art is one way we learn about history and religion and is one of the ways in which a society defines itself. Unfortunately funding for the arts in the U.S., and many places, is being cut, which denies the vital role it plays in the creation and examination of culture and the importance of encouraging creative thought and expression.

What is it about Visual Art you find compelling?
The sheer creativity of it and the ability to make an emotional, experiential or conceptual connection with another person. But perhaps most importantly, it reminds me that despite the horrible things people are capable of, we are also capable of amazing, beautiful, powerful works of art. All of the arts are humanity at its best.

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Your art education was…?
I studied Art History as an undergraduate and worked in various art museums within Education and Curatorial departments, so studying, viewing and talking about art from throughout history and around the world is a huge part of my art education. My formal studio education consists of classes in college and later in continuing education programs, a one-year post-baccalaureate certificate and two years of graduate school. And now as a working artist I am constantly looking at and reading and talking about art, so the education never ends.

Was your education helpful, or a hindrance?
Both my background in art history and my studio classes were extremely helpful to me. However I do think that a crucial point in my career was really questioning everything I had learned and all the assumptions I had made and ultimately throwing a lot of it out to start on my own authentic work. But I don’t think I would I be making my current work if I did not have that background to question and rebel against.

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What did you do before or during becoming an artist?
Before graduate school I worked in art museums within Education and Curatorial departments. My first full-time job was as with Public Programs at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art, where I assisted in presenting films, concerts and lectures focused on the arts of Asia. Later I worked as a Curatorial Assistant for Islamic and Later Indian Art at the Harvard Art Museums, where I learned an enormous amount about Persian, Turkish and Indian art. At the same time I was teaching painting and drawing classes at a local community education center. Since graduate school I have taught art at various levels and held various part-time office jobs at a performing arts organization, a law firm, temp agencies, etc, etc…..

Is there any one thing that has given you a big buzz in your art career so far?
The most exciting moments in my art career so far have been my recent projects in which I have set my work out into the world and allowed it to interact with a natural or urban environment on its own. It was very freeing to literally let the work go and just see what would happen. I also loved the social aspect of it—it was fun to create work that spurred me to work with other people —some were friends, some were volunteers, some were complete strangers. It was also so rewarding to see the public watch and interact with the work. Usually it has been kids who physically interact with the work—they are much more curious and open than adults.

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Did the place where you grew up have an influence?
I think my family’s moving from place to place has had more influence on my work than one particular place. We moved about every three years, so I had to orient myself within a lot of new houses and places. This made me very sensitive to issues of space and architecture.

What or who inspires your art?
Daily life inspires my art—I’m becoming more reactive to my environment and making more site-inspired work, so place plays a big part in what I make. I’m also often inspired by history, especially how structures and places change over time.

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What caused you to choose the medium you currently work in?
I used to paint in oil, but during graduate school I deeply questioned why I was painting and what type of art I wanted to make. I realized I just didn’t love the medium of oil paint enough to pursue it so I went back to what felt most natural and authentic to me, and that was drawing. I created a lot of drawings of lace, which began to look like maps to me. I started cutting the lace/maps out and discovered a whole new world of sculptural drawing with the paper itself. This has since led to more 3-dimensional, sculptural constructions.

Has your work changed much since your early efforts?
Yes, radically, thank goodness! But I love to look back at my older work—it’s an amazing record to have of your own development.

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Have your artistic influences altered over time?
I entered graduate school as a traditional oil painter focused on the figure, so my influences at the time were artists such as Degas, Lucien Freud, Alice Neel—a wide range of figurative painters. However I had been working in an Islamic and Indian art department for 3 years prior and looking very closely at gorgeous, delicate drawings and paintings and text and this attention to line and different considerations of the representation of space began to come out in my work once I stopped painting. I really questioned my interests and inspirations and realized they were much larger than simply painters, and often outside the “fine art” world—I’m inspired by a wide variety of artists, but also by literature, poetry, design, crafts, and just the physicality of the world itself.

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You know you are successful in Visual Arts when…
You are still making art when you’re 80.

Does the “creative process” happen easily for you?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I have learned that I need to just start working, even if I don’t really know what I’m working on. I rarely fully plan things ahead of time. I think through doing, and pieces will often become something other than what I originally intended. I think we each have a unique creative process and need to trust it.

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Do you get creative glimpses of urges happening and how do you work with these?
I often have a lot of ideas floating around and can get a bit distracted since I’d like to try them all! I try to write them down so I at least have a note to come back to when the time is right. Of course most of them don’t come to anything, but you never know when an idea will ripen over time and reappear. And you also end up with a fascinating journal of thoughts.

Do you have a personal description of “Art”?
For me it’s impossible to define. I like to keep it open—it allows for more freedom and various points of view. I’m very interested in questioning traditional Western definitions of “Art” and how that determined what was seen or not seen throughout history, and the impact those definitions still have on how the Western world views art today. Of course contemporary art, especially conceptual art, has been questioning these ideas for years, which is why artists today have so much freedom to make their own definition (or non-definition) of art.

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Does the sale of your work support you?
Not yet. I’m currently teaching and do temporary office work.

Do you get to other artists exhibitions, openings etc?
Yes, openings are the best time to catch up with friends and meet new people. And I will definitely go if the artist is a friend–I fully believe in artists supporting each other in every way possible, whether it’s through attending openings, sharing exhibition/grant/job opportunities, giving each other critiques, or just talking about life as an artist. I also enjoy viewing shows, although openings are usually not the best time to really see the work. If I’m interested in the show I’ll come back when the gallery is quieter.

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Do you have much contact with other artists?
Yes, and it’s important to me. I love seeing what other people are doing and hearing about their ideas and inspiration. Some of the best things about being an artist are all the amazing people you get to meet and the amazing art you get to see behind the scenes. I have learned a tremendous amount from other artists.

Some say the lifespan of many “artists” post educationally is about five years, any thoughts on that?
It’s certainly a difficult career to maintain, especially if you have to support yourself with one (or two or three) other jobs. Other aspects of life are also important; relationships, family, travel, and unexpected realities of employment, health, etc, can strain or cease your work altogether. However I think we shouldn’t limit ourselves to the idea that being an artist or having a “successful” career means constant exhibitions, reviews, etc. Just continuing to think about and make art, at whatever level, in the midst of the rest of life, and drawing from the rest of life, is a huge achievement.

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Do you have a personal philosophy that underpins your work?
I have a few phrases that I think about from time to time, but one of my favorites is “It’s all invented”. This reminds me that everything in our society and all our ideas about art, have literally been made up, and are still being made up. It takes the pressure off to conform to someone else’s arbitrary definition of “art” or “good” or “right” and allows me to take things a little less seriously. Of course I’m still very serious, but I’m enjoying letting my art become more playful.

What sort of research and or reference material do you do for current works and has that changed over time?
As my work has become more site-specific/inspired I’ve been doing more research into the history of the places in which I’m working. I’ll also create sketches or take photos of buildings that inspire me.

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Do you hope the viewer will “get” what you are trying to communicate or do you feel compelled to spell it out to them?
Some of my work is more literal than others, although I hope I’m not totally spelling things out. I don’t want my work to be too obvious—I feel that can shut down the experience for the viewer. For the most part I like keeping things fairly open so that viewer can draw from her own experiences to react to the work and create her own meaning from it. I enjoy hearing different interpretations of my work—sometimes it’s exactly what I was thinking, which is rewarding, and other times it’s a completely unique and surprising reading of my work, which can also be gratifying in a different way. I think our work often has more in it than we think, which I find exciting.

The business or marketing side of Art can be a challenge to some, what are your thoughts?
I think it depends on what kind of career you want. I think it is incredibly important for schools to offer some sort of “Business of Art” class to help prepare students for the realities of being a working artist. If you are trying to make it a viable career, then you are essentially your own business. The business aspect is not easy, and for most of us not fun, but it’s not impossible and there are skills and tools that everyone can learn.

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Tell us about getting caught in a creative “slump” and how you got out of it?
It always comes back to working, working, working. Eventually you will work your way out of it. I just came across a great quote by Chuck Close, “ Inspiration is for amateurs, and the rest of us just show up and get to work.” That about sums it up.

Is your work process fast or slow?
It’s pretty slow, so I like to break it up by also working on small pieces that I can complete quickly—lately these have been collages and small prints. It can be very rewarding to create a finished piece in an hour or two.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
To learn as much as possible about art from around the world and throughout history. Don’t limit yourself to contemporary art, or Western art, or art you are immediately attracted to—stretch your boundaries. If possible, travel! I would also encourage everyone to find her or his own authentic voice—of course we are all influenced by each other, but don’t let someone else (an artist, curator, critic, teacher) define you or your work.

How often do you work in the studio?
It depends on my situation, but generally as much as possible. Now that I’m working day jobs again I have less time in the studio, but I get in almost everyday, even if just for a couple of hours. However I think it’s also important to take time off from the studio once a week or once every two weeks to regroup and come back with fresh eyes and enthusiasm.

How did you manage to survive financially at the beginning of your art career?
I had full-time jobs in museums before graduate school, but since then have been able to get by on part-time work (for the time being; New York is a very expensive city!). I was also fortunate to get a grant after graduate school, which paid for a studio for a year.

Did you have an inspirational teacher, and how did that affect you?
I’ve been lucky to have some great teachers who have left me with ideas and phrases that still echo in my head. A sculpture teacher I had would often say: “Process saves us from the poverty of our intentions” (not his quote), which is a concept I rely on a lot. An English teacher taught us to “slaughter our darlings”, ie .to get ride of whatever isn’t helping the overall piece, even if it’s a detail that we absolutely love. But the most inspirational teachers have been those who are still working on their own art. And then some of the most inspirational people in my life are not teachers but friends, family, and people (not necessarily visual artists) whose work I admire.

What is your work space like?
Usually quite messy, which may be surprising given the somewhat pristine quality of my work. I’m often working on more than one thing at a time, and often in more than one medium and I’m not very good at putting things away. However this can lead to exciting connections between things.

Do you collect anything?”
Experiences.

What has encouraged you to keep working as an artist?
I ask myself what kind of life I want to look back on when I’m 80.


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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2011+

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Exhibition – Vexta & Blackart Projects

Vexta and Blackart Projects presents… Across Neon Lights.

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Metro Award – Vincent Fantauzzo

Well Done to Vincent Fantauzzo

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Exhibition – Matthew Johnson

Block Projects Presents – Matthew Johnson

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Sage Dawson – Artist

Sage Dawson is a printmaker and painter, from Augusta, Georgia in the US and has been a professional Contemporary Visual Artist for the past 11 years. She has a blog at www.MapMint.blogspot.com

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Artist’s statement…

Historically maps have been used as tools to represent space: to make large things smaller or abstract things more concrete, as well as to consult for travel. Maps document not only literal representations of land—distinct identities of spaces, imperialistic expressions of power, and scientific understanding, but also abstract organizational systems, historical development models, states of mind, and world views. They may be in a sense the largest portraits of communities that we have. To this rich history I contribute my of bodies of work Timelines & Itinerary Maps, in which I draw from community histories, forgotten landscapes, and architectural research to create maps which explore memory & imagination.

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What are you currently working on?

Cartographies of Ruin aims to document and present lost, abandoned, and forgotten sites. These  works emphasize the momentariness of time and memory that is suggested by the nature of these spaces. In the case of abandoned sites, their gradual destruction implies a history which unfolds from past to present, and on to their precarious survival in the future. In this way, the work aims to begin to better understand how the production and destruction of spaces affects people collectively.

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Your art education was…?

A BFA in Painting & Printmaking from Missouri State University, MFA in Printmaking with a Museum Studies minor from the University of New Mexico.

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Was your education helpful, or a hindrance?

My education was incredibly helpful. I was fortunate to work with a number of faculty members who helped me grow as an artist. I appreciate that they were incredibly honest and challenged my process and concepts to press me to develop further.

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Is there any one thing that has given you a big buzz in your art career so far?

My piece Timeline was included in the book From Here to There written by Kris Harzinski and published by Princeton Architectural Press this past year.

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Did the place where you grew up have an influence?

I grew up in Missouri. Since a lot of my work hovers between maps and landscapes, elements of the Missouri landscape often show up.

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What or who inspires your art?

I am deeply influenced by the landscape of experiences, observations and literature around me. To explore these ideas, I began to familiarize myself with the history of maps within the broad contexts of art history, social sciences, and cross-disciplinary studies, as well as current trends in specialized areas of study such as the land art movement, environmental studies, Byzantine and Islamic architecture, and experimental or radical cartography projects (writing on the subject can be found in Nato Thompson’s recent book Experimental Geography).

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What caused you to choose the medium you currently work in?

I usually mix printmaking and painting. I go back to these two processes because I like the contrast between an indirect and direct process.

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What can you tell us about your planning and making process for making art, and has that altered over the years?

Since I often work at a large scale, it’s necessary for me to have a detailed plan before I begin the work. Since the work is often bigger than the conventional printmaking press bed size, it’s important that I determine how to construct matrices before I start. Generally this means I begin a new project with small scale sketches, then create a number of small scale studies or models which represent the final piece. I’ll work on these studies until I land on one which best represents how I want the large scale piece to look.

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Working towards an exhibition, is it a daunting task for you?

I have an exhibition coming up in January at Pratt MWP School of Art in New York. I’ve been working on the pieces for this show for the last year. The process isn’t daunting as long as I plan ahead. Having a set of written goals with deadlines helps me stay motivated. I also have a calendar designed by Laurel Denise. It’s perfect for me and and keeps deadlines, dates, and projects manageable.

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Can you name a favourite artist or three… and why?

I like Alex Villar’s work in which he explores how the production of space affects movement and experiences. I go back to Kanarinka (aka Catherine D’Ignazio) because her performances are incredibly compelling. I will always be a huge fan of Caravaggio. His use of tenebrism has influence my use of color & light.

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What happens to works that “don’t work out”?

I destroy them, then throw them away. I’m a minimalist, in that I don’t want art I make to exist if it isn’t successful.

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What about the role of titles with your work?

I think titles are important. Whenever possible I select titles for my work. I use them to provide an overview of the work. I feel responsible to my viewers to be as clear and honest as possible. A title can be helpful in this way.

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What is one thing you need to have in your studio before you work?

It has to be clean.

How often do you work in the studio?

I get into my studio four to five days a week in between teaching and taking my pup for a walk.

How long does your work usually take to complete?

It often depends on the scale of the piece. I’ve worked anywhere from a couple days to a year and a half on pieces.


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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2011+

Follow me on twitter! http://twitter.com/stevegray58

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Art in the community – St Michaels Arch Angel award

Now in it’s third year the St Michaels Arch Angel Visual Art Award is a great way to connect the community to a school.  Although I have seen similar attempts in the past by other schools to connect via  the Visual Arts to the wider community, the team at St Michaels are to be solidly commended for their sterling efforts here, and the fact it has lasted 3 years (and looks like continuing) is fantastic.

Out of a wide range of Contemporary Visual Art works, the team selected 36 pieces to be represented in the Wilma Hannah gallery area.

The aim is to provide their Students with access to high calibre Contemporary works and give the Artists incentive to show works and be in the running for the prizes – the $5,000 acquisitive Arch Angel prize and the Students Choice award.

The main prize was awarded to Lesley Melody for her Painting Lunar Australis with the Students Choice award Going to  Brendon Taylor for his sculpture Memory Lane.

Hopefully we will see many more Archangel Awards presented by St Michaels, giving both students, the wider community and Visual Artists to opportunity to connect. A great example of this was seen as an eager group of Yr 12 Students chatted with Contemporary Visual Artist Bren Taylor about his winning work, followed by many people at the opening taking the rare opportunity to also chat to the Artist Directly.

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Brendon Taylors “Memory Lane – Detail

Perhaps next time they will extend the viewing times to cover a longer period, as they have a great starting point to work from and could offer Parents, their Children and the wider community more opportunities to connect with Victoria’s lively Visual Art community.

St Michael’s Exhibition and Archangel Prize
Wilma Hannah Hall, St Michael’s Grammar School
16 Crimea Street, St Kilda

Exhibition hours:
Wednesday 20 July – Friday 22 July, 10am – 4pm
Saturday 23 July, 10am – 1pm.

Exhibition – Kate Shaw

Nellie Castan’s Gallery will open Kate Shaw’s Exhibition this week.

12 River Street South Yarra.

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Exhibition – The New Field

Stephen Nall of Dickerson Gallery Fame is popping up in all sorts of places, this time as a co director of a gallery in Franklin Street in Melbourne – The Dark Horse Experiment. I had a thought he wouldn’t be out of the Visual Art game for long.

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Exhibition – Capriccio

Rod Gray, Brendan Taylor and team… are at it again, this time bigger and better! All new… you get the idea, come and join the fray! Again at Red Gallery.

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Exhibition – Jdubb Watt

La Trobe Contemporary Gallery does it again, this time with  Jdubb aka James.

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Exhibition – Adam Lee

Adam Lee does it again… At Motorworks Gallery in South Yarra.

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Exhibition – Meredith Cooper

The latest show of Meredith Coopers works. Check out the works on her site, I like the drawings…

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Exhibition – Aaron Baltetsch

Made in Geelong are forging forward, more Artists showing, more interest growing… I guess some would call it a project space. Anywho here’s the latest offering from Aaron Baltetsch.

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Mary Tonkin – Artist

I get the chance to have a look at exhibitions in galleries across Melbourne from time to time and sometimes I am delighted, other times I am underwhelmed… sometimes I drive by a gallery window, have a glance and move on.
Well to my surprise one sunny Saturday afternoon a few years back it was hot and I was enjoying the airconditioned comfort of the car… but then it hit me. I drove by the Works on Paper Gallery of Australian Galleries in Collingwood and was visually ‘hit’ by one of Mary’s works through a glimpse through the window.
I pulled up in a hurry and to my amazement, here was an exhibition dealing with the Australian landscape which begged me to look, I was drawn into the gallery by intoxicating colours, masterful drawing skills and a sense of arriving (not sure what that really means but it fits).
I said to the attendant in the gallery that “I have now seen a contemporary Masterpiece or three!” (She probably thought I was nuts…) As a person who grew up in the country and had camped and played about in the bush I immediately thought Mary’s works had hit the spot.
It looked as if she had gone “up to the top paddock”, found a dam surrounded with ugly messy scrub, found the beauty in it and bought the essence of that beauty and her depth of that experience to life. The scale, the colours the earthiness of it all, was, and still is so compelling and such a rich experience for me personally.
When I read she was to give a talk about her work it was more than I could hope for. It was a special experience I will not forget in a hurry. Readers I hope you enjoy Mary’s Interview as much as I have and seek out her works ‘in the flesh’ so you too can experience some of the raw essence and beauty of the Australian Landscape.
A HUGE Thank you to Caroline Field from Australian Galleries for allowing me access to one of their premier Visual Artists and organising the interview.

– Steve Gray…

Mary Tonkin is represented by Australian Galleries in Melbourne and Sydney.

Mary works on a flower and bulb farm at Kalorama in the Dandenong Ranges to the east of Melbourne. The farm has a fair bit of bush and is surrounded by National Park – In Mary’s words “it is paradise”.

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How long have you been making art?

I went from high school to art school and have continued since then. I first used oil paint in year 11; it felt like a homecoming, a deeply familiar action and intoxication.

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What are the main medium/s you work in…

At the moment I mostly draw in pencil/graphite, and paint in oils.

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How do you describe your work, realistic, stylised, abstract, narrative, symbolic, other?

Currently it is mostly figurative landscape painting that employs local form (often encompassing multiple points of view) but generally not local colour. I work on site, en plein air and assess what I’m doing in the studio of an evening as the larger work (up to about five metres wide) is made in panels and is impossible to see on site.

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What fascinates you?

I find the natural world an endless source of fascination and peace. The pulse of life that inhabits things is very moving.

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Why are you an artist?

I need to make work to make sense of the world, of what I’m seeing and how I’m feeling. It makes me feel alive and attached to the world, a part of things. I love the capacity to draw the seen into oneself, to open oneself upon the seen – a kind of inherence of the seer in the seen. I love the opportunity simply doing this thing  (drawing or painting) affords to make sense of my interior life as I enjoy the presence of the exterior world.

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How important is art for you?

Seeing great art intoxicates me, making it is both deeply frustrating and satisfying – it is also necessary.

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What is it about Visual Art you find compelling?

The capacity of it to shake your heart and mind, to be far more than the sum of its parts, far more than the rendering of a thing or application of paint. For instance, those scruffily painted little Morandi paintings of dusty bottles are poems about time and exquisite beauty. And I’ll never forget seeing the Rothko room at the Tate for the first time, the charge they have, the powerful sense of being deeply rooted by gravity yet soaring, ones soul soaring with them. Who can explain that, the capacity of a few blocks of colour or muddy smears to generate those powerful bodily sensations and say so much about life?

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Your art education was…?

Incredibly privileged. I studied painting at Monash at a time when there were staff sympathetic to painting and one or two who could actually teach it. After honours I went to do a summer school in New York at the New York Studio School. I went back the next year and stayed seven months on a scholarship. My teacher was Graham Nickson and his educational lineage was similar to the helpful stuff from Monash  (from Geoff Dupree) essentially English Formalist Modernist.

Nickson had been taught by Euan Uglow and was a great advocate of the French moderns I love: Cezanne, Bonnard and Matisse. It was a very intense few months that I’ve often wished I could have over again with the foresight to stay longer. I cannot explain just how thrilling it is to be in a place where the language of painting, its potency and potential is daily parlance. I struggled to make use of it because I had no sense of what content I wanted to convey. I could not make paintings without that question answered. Aside from which I dreamt of our bush and farm, ached for it and silence and solitude. New York’s art collections and small ramblings in galleries in the UK and Europe were just as edifying.

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What is your earliest memory of art?

We had a jigsaw of Vincent Van Gogh’s bedroom painting as children. It haunted me, but I didn’t know it was a Vincent until the first year of Uni.  I just remembered it as a powerful, warm image that radiated love and familiarity.

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Do you remember your first artwork?

Yes, after the Ash Wednesday bushfires I made little before and after images of the bush. It was hardly original, but a very instinctive response to the need to express the horror of it. I was ten. I knew no artists, had little concept of what art was.

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Was art a “thing” that was encouraged in your family?

Yes and no. I think my Dad felt it was a suitably ladylike pursuit. Both my parents were immensely proud of anything I made, without understanding why I needed it so much I think. We went to no galleries and had very little art in the home.

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Did the place where you grew up have an influence?

Absolutely, but more important was the manner in which we were raised in that place. My father taught us to pay attention to the world around us, to its mysteries, to enjoy it sensually and to wonder at the glory of it. He was a horticulturalist who asked us to identify the best forms or colours in a row of seedling tulips, to enjoy mud in our toes, the smell of the bush after rain, the marvel of migratory birds – he taught us to see, to question and to wonder. There is no better art education.

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What or who inspires your art?

I think I’d prefer to say my work is compelled by my life, by my need to make sense of or process emotion. It is also a great daily joy to be scribbling or slopping paint around.

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What caused you to choose the medium you currently work in?

I currently draw a lot in pencil/graphite as it is a fast and precise medium, and paint in oils because I love the smell and the mess of them and need the accuracy (I hate acrylic for instance which drops back in luminosity and darkens in tone as it dries).

If you mean more broadly why paint, simply because it best conveys the content I want. Painting is an inherently visceral process and medium – certainly compared to photography, it has the capacity to be a record of elapsing time, of sensations and associations that arise during the process. For me it is also an incredibly present medium – when everything is working well it records my state of being.

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Has your work changed much since your early efforts? (e.g. as a student).

I think the content has not changed greatly, its just that I’m vastly more aware of what I think it is and want it to be and have a great deal more experience with the vocabulary of painting. Through undergraduate at Uni I painted a lot of portraits and still life images. I was intent on making the image look like the thing I was painting, now I am concerned with making it feel like a relationship between the thing I am seeing and my internal state. I think I have much more control of what I’m doing now, I can at least make better guesses about how controlling the tonal values, narrowing the colour range, shifting scale of some parts or combining multiple points of view might effect how the image reads. Very simply, it is possible to make poems naively, but they’re far more likely to have the desired impact if one has a greater grasp of the language. I’m still learning.

Do you have much contact with other artists?

Not as much as I’d like, but probably as much as my need to work obsessively and be something of a hermit allows. I find it hard to get a conversation about painting at a level beyond what medium you use or what you paint. That dearth, and I think it is an educational want, makes me feel lonely at times.

Can you name a favourite artist or three… and why?

My ‘teachers’, the great touchstones are Cezanne, Bonnard and Matisse. Cezanne because I am there, I feel the air, smell the fruit and sense the deep honesty of his being. Bonnard because he makes me wonder and delight, because he gets to the internal radiance of things – the shimmer each and everything has. Matisse because he is so thoroughly sensuous, his colour is subtle and exquisite and frankly, he turns me on. My favourite Australian artists are Clarice Beckett, Elizabeth Cummings, Emily Kngwarreye, Sally Gabori and Penny Coss.

Have you had any “big breaks” in your career?

I am the luckiest person I know.  Having an honours year painting acquired by the NGV (development collection), an Elizabeth Greenshield’s grant to travel, a fees grant for the New York Studio School, the Dobell Drawing prize and a sale to build a studio were all crucially important lucky breaks.

Do the seasons affect your work or work habits?

Mostly the length of daylight is a large factor. I’m constantly frustrated at the lack of time in winter, just not enough daylight hours. The weather is also a problem, as I can’t often work when it is wet – occasionally the site allows me to set up a tarp.

Some say a measure of an artwork is the ability for it to hold a persons attention or cause the viewer to come back after an initial glance and become captivated by the work, is that so for your works or an intention of yours?

Absolutely. When I learn to paint, I want them to be utterly unforgettable. I want them to dwell within a viewer’s somatic memory, as clearly as though they had been there and felt similar sensations.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

Draw, draw and draw. Drawing is the bones, it will tell you why you are looking at something, what interests and compels you about the thing or the nature of your looking. Drawing is largely free of the baggage of ‘art’ making, it is quite pure and raw; more directly related to a persons unconscious gestures, it almost cannot help but be of the persons mind body as they respond to the seen. A student should draw until they understand what content it is that they wish to convey and then master the medium or mediums that best communicates that content – if it isn’t simply drawing.

By content I do not mean the thing that can be easily articulated, the social or political subtext that will satisfy your lecturers, I mean the thing that will not go away, the thing about looking, about the way you live your life and make sense of things that is consistently present. A student should be deeply stubborn, clever enough to both listen and ignore advice that doesn’t feel right, mostly they must come to know, trust and be true to themselves. No one will tell you it is a ‘real’ job, few will value what you do and there will be few if any pecuniary rewards. Good Luck!

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2011+

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Charles Desira – Exhibition

Every now and then an exhibition comes along which surprises you, in this case an old art buddy has emerged from the fog and is having a show! Good work Chuck! :)

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Exhibition – Young Guns

YOUNG GUNS SUMMER SHOW

A NEW EXHIBITION OF CONTEMPORARY CUTTING-EDGE AUSTRALIAN ART

MAYA GALLERY,28 CHEPSTOWE PLACE NOTTING HILL, LONDON

20th – 26th JUNE 2011

Following the success of Sam Leach’s sell-out Platonia in Mayfair in September 2010 and Kieran Anthill’s Falling Horses in Chelsea last month, This time it’s the Young Guns Summer Show Monday 20th to Saturday 26th June at Gallery Maya, Notting Hill.

From Jane Fontane’s screenprint superheroes, Vexta’s figurative street art and even Linton Meagher’s striking creations with bullet casings and scalpels this show captures the vibrancy and diversity of youth and demonstrates the breadth of talent emerging in Australia.

Curating the exhibition, Jonathan White, explains “Each one of these artists is unique and exciting and is pushing boundaries. Each one has a story to tell.

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2The Exhibiting Artists are…

Jane Fontane

Zoe MacDonnell

Juz Kitson

Vexta

Anthony White

Erin Smith

Linton Meagher

Exhibition – Alvina Bishop-Edwards

The Latrobe Valley Contemporary Art Gallery Presents the work of Alvina Bishop-Edwards

alvinas-showLatrobe Valley Contemporary Art Gallery Presents a show by Alvina Bishop – Edwards.

Christine Polowyj – Artist

Christine Polowyj is represented by, Anthea Polson Art in Southport, Queensland Her website site is http://www.christinepolowyj.com . Christine works in Acrylic, acrylic crayon, chinagraph pencil, ink and more recently, oils. She describes her work as Figurative Expressionism with psycho-social musings on truth and honesty with one’s self.

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Artist’s statement…
The depths and highs of human emotion, uncomfortable situations and challenging human behaviours inspire me in embracing the awkward, the difficult, the strange, the vibrant and the irrational. Reflexively, this goes some way to accepting the self and becomes the main motivation for communicating such emotional display/acceptance on canvas.

If an artwork can inspire a viewer to contemplate challenging aspects of their own inner lives, the purpose of each work is further fulfilled.
Painting is the positive outcome in my adult life of a difficult adolescence. The eventual suicide by my mother was the catalyst for self-examination to healthily accept such a deep loss and desire to continue my interest in art on my own terms.

I have been more comfortable developing my art in tandem with the deeper understanding borne from experience and a lateral approach to practicing art and life: most recently, motherhood.

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What are you currently working on?
Getting a studio built so I can have some room to work in! Then a solo show at Anthea Polson Art in May 2012.

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What fascinates you?
More than anything right now, my daughter.

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One word or statement to describe your current works?
In limbo.

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Now give us a more descriptive outline on your current works.
Nothing is defined. I see flashes of shapes, colour and movement across the canvas in my mind. Big, bold shapes and bright contrasting colours; lots of energy. What will actually materialise on canvas in reality is something I’ll discover once I begin painting. Every painting unfolds in real time – so I don’t know the outcome until it gradually emerges from all the experiments and mistakes that take place on the canvas.

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Why are you an artist?
To connect with and communicate my inner self, my actual thoughts and feelings, without fear to a wider audience, with the hope that others can find the courage to accept themselves. Charades can be toxic when we lose touch with our reality. I suppose I’m trying to diffuse the toxicity through my artwork.

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Your art education was…?
Largely self-taught, but I did a Diploma of Graphic Design which I think helped a lot with my understanding of colour.

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What did you do before or during becoming an artist?
Admin assistant, waitress, office cleaner, graphic designer, farm hand and now I work at a supermarket.

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Is there any one thing that has given you a big buzz in your art career so far?
Winning a place at the Independent Artists Showcase at Art Sydney in 2007. Without that, I would not be with Anthea Polson Art. Without Anthea Polson Art, my work would not be in some major art collections in Australia.

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What has been a turning point in your career thus far and why?
Becoming a mother has been a huge turning point: my time and room to paint have disappeared! The emotional energy I have available for artwork has changed also: there still is a charge of energy there, but it is coming from a different place now, which means that my work will change because of that. The time constraint will also influence my technique and the finished product. The experience I have will be the thread to my works pre-baby. I have no idea what it will look like. I’ll have to wait and see! I do feel calm and positive about the upcoming process of painting for my next show, which is a good sign.

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What happens to works that “don’t work out”?
Every painting of mine contains at least one. I just paint over them – but usually not completely. There may be a part of that ‘layer’ that contributes to the final piece, or leads to the next ‘layer’.

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Musical influences?
I enjoy music and my partner has a fantastic record collection. Sadly though, when I’m painting it’s not convenient to shift mental gears (and wash hands etc) and put on another record or CD. You may think, ‘what about an iPod?’, which is a valid point now that records all come with a free download. When my studio is built I may just have to organise that. Until then, it’s ABC Classic all the way, it’s wonderfully relaxing.

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Is motivation to work an issue for you and how do you overcome it?
Yes, I find I become a social hermit. It’s a difficult thing to balance up because once I’m in work mode, I’m definitely not in social mode.

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Do you have a challenge knowing when a work is finished?
No, I feel it pretty clearly. Usually towards the end of a painting, a resonant title will also emerge.

What about the role of titles with your work, some hate them others revel in them, what about you?
I find that the title is the cherry on the top of the work. It’s what ties the meaning of the painting to the initial inspiration of the painting – sort of like the afterbirth of my subconscious.

Is your art, “art for art sake…” or a matter of “art for commercial viability?”
It’s great to sell paintings, but I don’t make paintings to sell. I’ve had buyers ask if I will change part of the painting to suit them, but I don’t. I also don’t enjoy doing ‘second versions’ of popular works. The energy just isn’t the same.

Is your work process fast or slow?
Fast, I usually take a week to complete each work. Any longer than that and the impetus for that work has gone.

Otto Dix the German artist said (in part)… “All art is exorcism…” Is that the case for you? If so how…
There’s definitely a dredging of my subconscious in each work. Each work reveals a little more about what’s going on in my mind, and on further musing tells me more about myself. It’s a good opportunity to purge, but the purging doesn’t all have to be tragic and dramatic.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Ask yourself: would still create artwork if nobody else was interested in it? If you would, then anything that happens along the way is a bonus.

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2011+

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Check out our other Art Site http://artstuff.net.au Loaded with creativity boosters, professional development strategies, investing/collecting art and activities for Artists and Students…

Exhibition – MARS

Mike Nicholls – Tony Spence at MARS – Melbourne Art Rooms

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Exhibition – Tony Lloyd

Tony Lloyds work on show at Block Projects

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BLOCK PROJECTS
79 Stephenson Street
Richmond 3121
PH: 03 9429 0660

info@blockprojects.com
www.blockprojects.com

Open Wednesday-Friday 11AM-6PM
Saturday 11AM-4PM

Gallery open day – Albert St Galleries

Albert Street Galleries should attract another great crowd for this years open day, perhaps even more than the Collingwood galleries open day recently. Great works, great galleries… devour!

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Exhibition – Ghost Patrol

Ghost Patrol – more quirky goodness in this show…

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New Melbourne Gallery – Fehily Contemporary

Fehily Contemporary opens in Collingwood

The launch of Fehily Contemporary in Collingwood this month adds to Melbourne’s art scene. The gallery will represent a diverse range of artists and should be a refreshing and innovative space to enjoy the fascinating world of contemporary art.

Situated in a large converted warehouse in Glasshouse Road, the gallery comprises two flexible exhibition spaces – the street level Glasshouse Gallery, featuring an outdoor atrium, and the more intimate first floor Loft Gallery.

Fehily Contemporary has been created by Director Lisa Fehily and her husband Ken, both passionate patrons of contemporary art.

“Art has been a central and enriching part of our lives,” Lisa said. “The gallery allows us to share that with a wider audience by creating a platform for the exploration of contemporary art. We want a place that encourages discussion, education and debate, and allows others to begin or continue their journey with art without having to feel awkward.”

Fehily Contemporary launches with 17 represented artists, including the environmentally focused Ash Keating, large-scale collage artist Sally Smart, New Zealand sculptor Gregor Kregar and Indigenous collective proppaNOW.

The year-round program will include parallel exhibitions running simultaneously across the two gallery spaces, ensuring the mix of works on display is constantly changing. New programs aimed at nurturing new generations of collectors and curators are also being developed, together with a sprinkling of music and performance.

“We want to offer a different way of presenting art that will inspire new and experienced art lovers alike,” Lisa said. “We’re not only offering an accessible path for new collectors, we’re hoping to change some established perspectives – we’d love to make Baby Boomers feel just as comfortable as Gen Ys with our contemporary art program.”

Fehily Contemporary opens Thursday, 12 May with its inaugural exhibition Introducing… Our Artists. The exhibition will feature new and recent works from many of the gallery’s artists and will run to 4 June.

Fehily Contemporary Visual Artists

Belle Bassin
Graham Brindley
Nick Devlin
Angela Ellsworth (US)
Brett Graham (NZ)
Ash Keating
Veronica Kent
Gregor Kregar (NZ)
Richard Lewer
Ricky Maynard
Ms&Mr
Scott Miles
Sonia Payes
Patrick Pound
proppaNOW
Lisa Reihana (NZ)
Sally Smart

Fehily Contemporary
3a Glasshouse Road
Collingwood  VIC  3066

Gallery Hours:
Wed – Sat 11am – 5:30pm

(03) 9017 0860
ask@fehilycontemporary.com.au
www.fehilycontemporary.com.au

Exhibition – Johnnie Dady – Lisa Andrew

Johnnie Dady – An Uncertain Object

Lisa Andrew – New Works 2011

Opening Night
Wednesday 11 May, 6pm – 8pm

RSVP

Exhibition

12 May – 7 June, 2011

Exhibition – Paul Lorenz

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Interviewed here, Paul Lorenz is clearly a stand out performer when it comes to having his work in multiple shows. This time at DM Contemporary in New York.

Brain Cohen makes Trax

An abandoned funeral parlour on Plenty Road in Preston first caught the eye of Brian Cohen from Trax while he was exploring the area for office space during a residency at the Preston Market in 2007-2009. After unsuccessful negotiations with owners of large office spaces, “they all wanted a lot for a little” says Brian, the disused and vandalised undertakers was an appealing prospect.

An online land title search cost just $15, presenting him with the owning company’s name. Further online research directed Brian to the address of a mall in Albury, which led him to the owner. He called immediately to learn that the owner hadn’t seen his property for some time and was shocked to hear it was vandalised. Brian proposed that for a low cost rental he would occupy the building as an arts and culture initiative, clean it up and establish a presence on the site.

The owner was in the process of securing a planning permit for the site, intending to build apartments, so while he agreed to the proposal he was hesitant to commit to any length of lease. Eventually he agreed to a six month minimum lease, which will continue month to month until he receives planning permission to redevelop. A number of locals have recently contacted Brian saying they have lodged objections, so the planned development is likely be 12 to 18 months away, meaning the tenants of the Parlour will have a home for longer.

Initially unsure how the artist population of the unique building (complete with chapel and mortuary) would develop, Brian put out a call for expressions of interest through several channels, including Creative Spaces, back in February. Within weeks the use of the building was fully mapped out with “the tenants that will launch and shape the work culture”, and a growing waiting list in place.

Brian will curate and manage The Parlour, joined by illustrators, bookmakers, textile makers, media artists, a recycled furniture designer and photographers (the mortuary will convert to a dark room). The building has needed a lot of cosmetic attention – painting, carpets, and windows – but the infrastructure is in healthy shape so refurbishment has mostly been undertaken by the tenants themselves.

Much of Brian’s work with Trax focuses on cultural development through creativity and collectivism, with collaborative digital, theatre and installation projects. He sees the Parlour as “an exciting curatorial challenge”. With such a short time in the space he hopes that he can still “encourage memories to be created” and that cross pollinations will occur with the collective creative network that has formed.

Brian also sees the Parlour and its tenants as “the seeds on the sock” on the much larger issue of encouraging cultural vitality with urban renewal and gentrification.

“There is a demonstrated need for affordable studio, office and gathering space for the creative class of the Inner North…without the opportunity for cultural activity to develop what will surround these grey five storey styro-crete constructions?” Asks Brian, who remarks that the character and colour of Preston reminds him of growing up around New York.

“Culture doesn’t just happen; it needs the right environments to flourish within. Long term, it’s mutually and economically beneficial for local government to implement considered cultural provisions around cultural activity. But by then our impending eviction would’ve impended, and we’ll be somewhere else, saying the same thing, again.”

The Chapel is now available for hire, read more.

http://www.parlour.trax.org

Video – Maggie Brown

Check out this interview with Maggie on the tube… then go and do a search in here for the written one. :)

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Exhibition – Susan Hall

Susan Hall’s new Exhibition at La Trobe Contemporary Gallery Morwell Victoria.

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Creative Spaces

More studio space than you can shake a stick at… Woo Hoo!

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Exhibition – Kill Pixie and Blackartprojects

Mark Whalen (Kill Pixie) in an exhibition called White Out for April 1st 2011

http://charlesandford.com/

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Susan Buret

Susan Buret lives in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales and is currently represented by Anita Traverso Gallery.

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Susan returned to her art practice after a long break in 2000. She has been working full time as an artist since 2003.

Her blog is http://sburet.blogspot.com

Susan works in the mediums of painting, collage, installation and video.

Artist Statement

More stolen geometry from the gardens of love.

Maps are often very beautiful. A combination of the cartographer’s art and military conquest reveals a pattern of fragments put together to create a whole much like a mosaic or a quilt. The result provides an indication of not only where one might go but also where one is not welcome.

Working with map fragments and the geometric patterns used across cultures to decorate and claim home and places of worship these works explore ideas of diaspora, displacement and the search for refuge.

Susan Buret

November 2010

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What can  you tell us about your work?

My work is predominantly non-objective. I am interested in pattern and occasionally include objective elements in the patterns. Other things which are of interest include; issues of immigration, diaspora, the civilian victims of war and the rights of the individual to have a safe home …a refuge.

What are you currently working on?

I am just finishing a body of work for a solo exhibition at loft gallery, a new contemporary art space in Bowral, NSW.

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What fascinates you?

I love the patterns with which we decorate our homes and buildings. Oriental rugs, mosaic patterns, quilt patterns, china patterns and the geometry that underlies these patterns. For me these patterns symbolize the claiming of place as one’s own. I find it particularly interesting that some patterns occurs in many different cultures: that the Amish and the nomadic tribes of the middle east might chose the same patterns to decorate their textiles and that these patterns also occur in Christian Churches.

Why are you an Artist?

I am an artist because I have the need to create work. I try to work in my studio every day. It took a few years to find my ‘voice’ but I now produce prolifically.

When I was at school I wanted to go to Art College but was encouraged to get a more ‘traditional’ education and graduated with a degree majoring in Psychology and Art History. After selling a business in 2002 I knew that I had to be an artist.

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Before becoming an artist…

I worked as a statistician and a restaurateur.

Big Buzz points in  your career thus far.

There are two things. In 2005 I was a finalist in the Blake Prize. It was the first time I saw my work hung alongside the work of ‘established’ artists who I admired and respected. In 2008 I had my first residency at Bundanon. It is a magical place and gave me the space to think and expand my ideas. It was an extraordinary gift.

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How do you define success?

In Visual Art this is very subjective. For some it is money or fame which are indicators of success. For me success is measured by the respect of my peers.

Creative streaks do they come in waves?

I am lucky in that the creative process does come relatively easily for me.

Several years ago I gave myself permission to make work without the expectations of success or even producing a finished work. If something doesn’t work for me I throw it away and stretch fresh linen on the stretcher.

Despite the repetitive nature of my work, I work fairly intuitively without a fixed vision of the finished work.

The other ‘epiphany’ came when I decided to respect the opinions of those who don’t like my work. I just accept that my work doesn’t appeal to everyone and I make work for myself rather than for an audience.

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Do you have any special descriptions of Art?

Clarity of concept is very important to me, more important than the appearance of the work. I have been making work about the same issues for the past 6 years refining my ideas about issues of identity and developing my knowledge of pattern.

Do you have much contact with other Artists?

I am fortunate to live in an area where there are lots of other artists. I socialise predominantly with other artists. I also have a long term collaborative relationship with Nicola Moss, a Queensland Artist. We have been working on a project about weather for several years. We have a residency at Montsalvat coming up in October this year and contact one another several times a week.

When we began the project I liked the idea of using serial observation as a tool in my practice and the opportunity it provided to interact with other artists. Recent events have meant that the project ties in with the ideas of home and refuge that from the basis of my individual practice.

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Is exhibiting a daunting task?

Yes, there is not only the work but the deadlines associated with mail outs, media releases etc. Also the logistics of packing and sending work can take up several days. The other difficult part of my practice is dealing with the fact that exhibitions and opportunities tend to cluster. It is very easy to be over committed as one tries to take up all the opportunities to advance one’s career.

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Messages in  your work?

While my work obviously has a political message and, I would like the viewer to think about it. I try to produce work that is not ‘in your face’. I hope that the repetition and persistence in my work will cause the viewer to think more about the ideas behind the work. However if the viewer only engages with the patterned surface I respect their choice.

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Do you think Art can change peoples perceptions?

I am moved by the plight of refugees and the civilian victims of war. I had an idyllic childhood and was brought up to believe I could achieve anything I wanted. I was fortunate to have parents who believed that women should have the same opportunities as men. My work strives to draw attention to wide gap between the security of my home environment and the plight of those living in war zones.

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Any particular time you like to work?

I like to work during the day. I have a studio with north facing windows and skylights in the southern slope of the roof. I like to work using natural light. I very rarely work at night.

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Any Awards you want to tell us about?

I was the winner of the 2006 Conrad Jupiter’s art Award and the 2008 Pine Rivers Art Award

Want to see more Artist Interviews the day they are posted? Subscribe and we automatically send you the latest post via email, it’s easy… click here to subscribe.

Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

Follow me on twitter! http://twitter.com/stevegray58

Check out our other Art Site http://artstuff.net.au Loaded with creativity boosters, professional development strategies, investing/collecting art and activities for Artists and Students…

Nicola Moss

Name: Nicola Moss

Web: www.nicolamoss.com.au

Blog: http://nicolamoss.blogspot.com/

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The area where you live… Gold Coast

Are you currently represented by a gallery?

Yes, I am represented by Salt Contemporary Art in Queenscliff, Victoria; Anita Traverso Gallery, Richmond, Melbourne and Woollahra, Sydney. I also currently show works with Costello-Childs Gallery in Phoenix, Arizona, United States.

How long have you been making art?

Since I was quite young. I’ve had a studio space for making art since I moved to Sydney in 1989.

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What are you currently working on?

I’m currently completing works for my upcoming solo exhibition ‘Diamonds in my eyes’ which will be on show at Salt Contemporary Art Gallery from 16th April to 5th May 2011. The exhibition features paintings on canvas and plein air inspired work on paper.

One word or statement to describe your current works?

A celebration of the magical, teaming with life landscapes that capture my imagination. With diamonds and trees both essentially being carbon, I wonder if stately trees could be the bling of the future?

The landscape is alive. And I feel alive when I’m in it.

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Now give us a more descriptive outline on your current works.

My art practice is based on observing and interpreting the ecologies of environments. Through exploration of connected relationships of co-habitation and dependency, I have become increasingly interested in the role plants play as the foundation of life for other species.

Current works continue to be inspired by site visits to conservation areas within Redlands shire [in Qld]. This research began with my exhibition last year, Plant-Life, shown at Redland Art Gallery. My current series features several wetland, coastal heath and island environments on Coochiemudlo, Russell and North Stradbroke Islands. I have found at times that some people think of the ‘bush’ as being monotonous or boring, but I find a wonderful diversity of unique forms – small, large, beautiful and ugly. I reflect on and try to attribute a sense of value to native flora, by recognizing the individual qualities of species. Nothing is superfluous in a natural environment; each plant life is unique and at the same time plays a role in the surrounding ecosystem.

My works are based on direct observation, I only paint things I have seen or experienced, so these trips are very important for the development and inspiration. I have continued to join in outings with Redlands bushcare groups through the seed collection and bird watching groups. Involvement with bushcare groups in Redlands has resulted in works that explore the role people play in shaping habitat. Some ideas reflected in works include migration in South-east Queensland, the value of hollow trees within an environment, volunteer work to stabilize creek edges, water quality testing and seed collection.

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Can you tell us a bit about the upcoming exhibition at Salt Contemporary “Diamonds in my eyes”?

“Diamonds in my eyes” was the title of one painting in my last show; I liked the ideas behind this work and decided to focus a show on them. Essentially my current paintings feature species and environments that are treasures to me, places that in my eyes are very valuable and special.

This is the statement for the original painting titled ‘Diamonds in my eyes’:

Diamonds in my eyes’.

This painting tries to capture some of the features I find incredibly beautiful in stately mature trees. It is one of several works developed with the intention of reflecting or attributing a sense of value to the subject, the subject being plants, and more specifically native flora.

Titles for works come from many ideas and experiences. When I started thinking about concepts for this exhibition, one thought was how to represent plants in a way that reflected a sense that they are valuable. I thought about what is considered valuable today, some images of advertising in glossy magazines and marketing of ‘desirable’ or must-have items came to mind. Could stately trees be the bling of the future?

Thinking of trees in terms of diamonds brought back memories of my first job after leaving school. I worked in a large family run jewellers upstairs in Bourke Street, Melbourne. With around thirty staff it wasn’t your everyday chain store type jeweller. I can still recall my amazement at the volume of jewellery sold. Were diamonds really rare? I am drawing a large loop of thoughts here, but diamonds are basically carbon compressed over millennium. I guess I’m more a tree person these days.

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What are the main medium/s you work in…and, what caused you to choose the medium you currently work in?

I have worked with many mediums over the years but find painting in acrylics on canvas, incorporating pigmented inks and natural ochres in some works suits my painting style.

I work on canvas in the studio and on paper when outdoors on site. In the last year or two I have taken silhouette forms from my paintings and developed these in hand cut paper works, often layered with overlapping elements. I enjoy working with acrylics because drying times are reasonably fast allowing layers to be built up without too much waiting time. I find I can achieve all the effects I am looking for with acrylics. From glazes and transparent washes to calligraphic chinese brush work and opaque solid patterns and silhouettes. I don’t graduate or modulate colour for natural lighting effects so working wet in wet or the need for slow drying times is not something I am looking for in a medium.

Why are you an artist?

I wonder if I had a choice. I feel compelled to respond to the world around me through visual language.

Was there a big turning point in your art journey that caused you to think that “it’s all worthwhile”, or “oh yeah I get it…”?

Yes, in 2004. I had been painting and exhibiting what I would describe now as ‘pictures’ for many years, but the process had become a bit of a formula. I wasn’t inspired by the work I was making and it lacked purpose or meaning for me. I stopped painting completely for a year and asked myself a few questions. ‘What is the purpose of art?’ “What is the purpose of being an artist?’ Answering these questions for myself was a huge turning point in my art journey. I had been writing in my visual diaries for years about layering images and the works I would like to make, but I hadn’t been making them. It was very challenging at the time to make work that I didn’t know what it should look like (challenging in a good way, exciting, unknown). I had to trust in my instinct and just make it. These early works featured the ecology of my garden and were inspired by direct observations of the various life forms and seasonal changes in it. They were the beginning of my current practice, they were the beginning of painting with purpose or meaning, my art had something to say.

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Have you had any “big breaks” in your career?

There have been many stepping stones, I think each one along the way has been important and contributed to my journey, and it would be hard to single out just one.

Do you keep an Art Journal or Visual Diary of some kind?

I have kept art journals since I began making art; I find them a great resource of ideas and inspiration. They include images of all kinds that for some reason have caught my eye. Colour notes, writings of impressions from site visits. Thumbnail sketches of ideas for works, ideas for titles of works, layouts of shows, etc. I try to put pretty much all my ideas in these for reference. They can be great to look back on when beginning work/research for a new show; I can pick up on a trail of ideas or see a focal point to develop further.

What is one thing you need to have in your studio before you work?

Daylight for painting.

Can you describe a ‘typical’ day?

There are studio days, admin days, site visit days, delivery days… Studio days begin around 8am with emails, blogs, etc. then I start painting at 9am, lunch is at 12 noon and then I will stop work around 5pm. It can depend on daylight hours as I like to work in natural light, so longer in summer and shorter in winter. I will often do paper cutting work at night as this is not daylight dependant for me. Some days are just spent in front of the computer all day. Newsletters, website updates, proposals, exhibition statements, etc. It just depends what needs doing most. I work Monday to Friday throughout the year, in the couple of months leading up to a solo exhibition it is often 7 days a week.

Did you have any idea about how the art world worked in the beginning?

No. Now that I have a better idea about it I try not to think about it.

Aside from making art works for exhibition, are there other things that you do to earn a living (eg teaching, workshops, other?)

I worked on my first public art project in 2008 and have had two subsequent projects. These projects take artwork into industrial materials and built environments. It’s a challenging and rewarding experience to work on projects like these. I enjoy them because it takes artwork outside of the traditional gallery space and places them in public spaces where many people can interact and respond to them.

Can you name a favourite artist or three… and why?

Contemporary Australian art in general, I’m always excited to see new work. Artists I like include Fiona Hall, Janet Laurence, John Wolseley, Jenny Orchard, Sally Smart, Shane Cotton and Belinda Fox. Fiona Hall makes incredibly intelligent and sophisticated artworks that are also aesthetically beautiful. I heard Janet Laurence speak about her art practice at FEHVA one year; it was very inspiring and left me thinking wow that is what art can be. John Wolseley’s direct works from observation of environments is inspiring and enthralling to view I think. He immerses himself in the places that feature in his works.

Do you have a personal philosophy that underpins your work?

We, humans, are completely connected to the world around us. If I could achieve one thing from my art it would be to encourage people to value life in all its forms and perhaps recognise that we are not superior but rather dependant on life around us.


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Compiled and edited by Amanda van Gils © 2011+

Exhibition – Susan Buret

Susan Buret’s Latest exhibition.Loft Gallery Bowral NSW

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