Sotheby’s Australia sold

Reported in The Age Newspaper this morning 29/09/09

The Australian art auction world is in shock this morning as it wakes up to the news that Sotheby’s has sold its Australian arm to a rival company headed by Sydney businessman and auctioneer Tim Goodman. Sotheby’s Australian staff, who were told of the takeover only yesterday were shocked by the announcement. Mr Goodman, as chairman, chief executive and shareholder of First East Auction Holdings Limited (FEAL), the company that has bought the Sotheby’s licence, was instrumental to negotiations.      He would not reveal the amount paid for the licence, but The Age understands it could be as little as in the low millions. The transaction will be finalised later this year. Mr Goodman is also the current chairman and chief executive of Bonhams & Goodman auction house, but he will be breaking ties with British firm Bonhams, terminating the licence to use the Bonhams’ name on December 22.

Last night, Bonhams chairman Robert Brooks announced that Bonhams 1793 – a shareholder in FEAL, which has traded as Bonhams & Goodman for six years – would launch its own independent operation in Australia and was looking to expand its presence here.

Richard Szymczuk – Artist

In our continuing series on Geelong Regional Contemporary Visual Artists I am pleased to present Richard Szymczuk a Contemporary Photographic Artist.


Tell us about you and your art a little…
I am a Geelong based, urban landscape photographer.

I photograph abandoned petrol stations, milkbars, old advertising signs, post WW2 architecture, street art, etc. My influence has been cinematic. I developed a fascination to the fringe locations depicted in American road movies in the mid 1980s, while studying graphic design. That started the quest for me, getting on my crappy pushbike with my 35mm Cosina camera in hand, to find similar locations in Geelong.

The most notable films for me were: ‘Paris Texas’ ,‘Vanishing Point’, ‘The Misfits’, ‘Repo Man’ and David Lynch’s ‘Blue Velvet’. I would get such a buzz, out of these movies. I was the age of approx 22 years, and my eyes opened wide, to the amazing landscapes and offbeat locations, depicted on the silver screen, combined with fantastic soundtracks, sound scapes, and intense/ quirky story lines.

I am a massive fan of David Lynch’s artistic vision and creating a sense of dread, within a location which

(Initially) looks ‘ideal and safe’. My photography has developed a more sinister feel over the past couple of years, shooting at night and under the full moon at creepy locations.

In terms of pets, I once owned a black Kelpie dog, by the name of Bronko.

How long have you been apart of the Visual Art scene here?
Since 1986, I have been documenting Geelong’s roadside vernacular. I have probably developed a little bit more of a profile over the past couple of years. I still feel to be on the fringes though. That’s OK, as I would like to have something ‘alternative’ to offer in a visual, artistic sense and perfecting the craft.


What do you like about being part of this region?
Practicality. Geelong is a good town to live in, with a relaxed pace and northerly aspect. Also, being a very keen Cats supporter in the AFL, I need to get a good fix of my footy news everyday.

A bit about your art background?
I have a Diploma in Graphic Design and an Advanced Diploma in Multi Media. But the real schooling is through observation and inspiration. I have exhibited primarily in-group exhibitions, and also exhibited solo in cafes and swanky restaurants. (Artwork should be accessible to people), especially while they have a café latte. I have yet to have my first ‘official solo show’, though I have many thousands of images to draw from, to present something very solid.


What do you do other than Art?
I work as a Gallery Technician. It’s good way of meeting visual artists and you certainly learn how to use power tools and work up a bit of a sweat at times, installing and packing up an exhibition.

I also freelance in stylized ‘character’ illustrations and architectural photography. One has to be versatile in an industrial city.

Do you catch up with other Artists in the region? If so how, what, where, when etc…
I feel that what I do in terms of photography, leaves me on the fringe somewhat, (much like the fringe locations) that I photograph, but I enjoy it that way. It’s fantastic to be photographing under a full moon at 3 am in summer. It almost seems like a privilege, to be under the stars at night while everybody is fast asleep, and witness/ record a dreamlike time and subject.

I have a few close friends who specialise in landscape painting, photography and web design. They offer good support and advice. They understand my vision.


Any local art projects you have been part of?
At present I have artwork in the ‘Geelong Regional Artists Exhibition 09’. Be sure to visit the show and see some Geelong talent!

Being a touristy area, do you take advantage of that somehow?
Geelong is a regional city with a strong industrial backbone and that is well ingrained in its history and culture. The Pivot city … ‘The Bradford of the South’, it has been, but now with the opening of the Geelong Bypass, the city seems desperate to be connected to the Surf Coast. I personally prefer that ‘perceived distance’ of the past. If I do go to the Surf Coast or the Bellarine Peninsula, it’s rarely with my camera.

There are various photographers, recording the beauty of the tourist beaches and forests etc, of Geelong and region. That market is well covered for. I avoid this genre of photography. To me, a beach is a beach … it could be anywhere.


Do you have a web presence?
Sure do. It is a Flash based website which I designed. One has to have a website, and also to consider networking through social websites i.e.: Face book, and interact with others with similar interests such as the websites: Flickr, Zenfolio,etc.

Richard Szymczuk’s website link:

The Documentary website link:

Do you have a highlight in your art career you want to mention?
One highlight was having a video documentary produced, on my photography in 2003. It is a 27 minute, broadcast quality, documentary that ‘just missed’ being aired in ABC1.

The Documentary is titled: ‘Lost Highways: The roadside photography of Richard Szymczuk’.

Produced by ‘Digital Zoo Media’ in Melbourne. It’s a nifty documentary!! The story continues on today, with DSLR gear instead. If anything, that would make the documentary more relevant today, with so many more locations having been demolished, and me still documenting that process.

Also, having a photograph of mine, on the cover of Aussie pub rock legends: ‘Hunters and Collectors’ CD and vinyl single: (‘The Way You Live’).

The next highlight will be on a sunny blue sky day.


Are you working on anything, which has a local flavour?
Nearly everything that I photograph is local. I live here, so I may as well be observant. There are so many visual delights in the urban landscape of Geelong. It is an under-appreciated city. It is not just about beaches, sunsets and forests. I search for the beauty in the ugly.

Do you have representation at Melbourne or local galleries, and is this important for you?
At present , I do not have any representation. I see it as a case, of continually working on the process of recording images. Is time a factor? Money is a factor. In this GFC, one has to invest wisely and get a good return on their efforts. As a starving artist, yes, I have to diversify in regards employment and perhaps representation could lead my photography to be discovered by a much wider audience.

Any takers out there? Ha Ha !

Somebody who inspires me is Australian artist, Rosalie Gascoigne. She had her first solo show at the age of 57. She spent years perfecting her craft, creating a unique vision, and then ‘suddenly’ became a sensation. What a great Aussie story. Scrounging up found objects near her home and transforming them into something totally brilliant! The wait was well worth it.


Did you choose Art or did Art choose you?
It chose me! I loved to draw as a kid in primary school. It’s great fun, excercising the imagination with a fresh HB pencil! I still love to draw characters, especially in the concept and development stages. Drawing introduced me to colors, shapes and possibilities.

Any funny things happen while you exhibited or made art?
Yes. Don’t stand too far out on the road whilst taking a stunning photograph…. Cars can kill you!

Over the years I have become immune to the number of cars beeping at me and boofheads yelling out at me. But, it’s all good fun. That usually brings a wry smile to my face. At least somebody out there, is noticing my photography and passing comment. And at night. bring a torch with fully charged batteries.

Any advice for a young “Artist” contemplating dedicating their life to Art?

Avoid clichés. Stick to your artistic vision. As your vision develops, so too will your skills and concepts becoming fine tuned, or more ambitious/ dynamic, over the years.

Avoid ‘middle of the road opinions’ of your talents, from ‘mediocre people’ within the artistic realm.

If they don’t ‘get it’ …. remember what the VFL Footscray legend ‘Ted Whitten’ would say: ‘STICK IT RIGHT UP ‘EM !!’.

Any other pointers about making art locally you want to mention?
I wish Geelong had an Art Precinct, where there were studios and artist’s lofts in the city, supporting painters, sculptors, photographers, film makers etc. Geelong artists are spread all over the region. Where on earth is there a central point? Where is the artistic ‘cross pollination’ of concepts?

Also, I desire for an edgy, approachable art gallery/ space, to be established that does not take itself, too seriously, to cater for creative people and audience, open to: street wise, edgy, ironic, kooky, and fresh visions, much like various galleries in inner Melbourne.

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

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Jeff Martin – Artist

Jeff Martin is a Melboune Artist represented by Gould Galleries in South Yarra and has a web presence at… Jeff has a show coming up soon at Gould Gallery, details at the galleries web site or Jeff’s.

Hi Jeff, do you have other than art you feel are important to mention?
I manage/own the Appleton Street Studios in Richmond Victoria.

What are the main medium/s you work in…
Mostly Oil on Linen and ink on paper, however I do enjoy playing with sculpture.


What are you currently working on?
I am currently involved in a series titled ‘Back of House’ where I spend one evening in a commercial restaurant kitchen during service sketching the chef’s at work. I then take my impressions back to my studio and on a large-scale canvas I convey the working environment of that space.

The work is not about celebrity chefs or food (all the plates on my paintings are empty) it is about the working environment of the professional kitchen.

In February/March of 2008 I exhibited fifteen large paintings of Melbourne restaurants as part of the Melbourne International Food Festival at Gould Galleries Melbourne. In October 2009 I will be showing fifteen Sydney restaurants as part of the inaugural Sydney International Food Festival by Gould galleries at Shapiro Gallery.

What fascinates you?

One word or statement to describe your current works?

And a more descriptive outline on your current works…
This show is big, really big, my most ambitious yet. I don’t know how to give a descriptive out line that would convey the scale of this work, which represents 18 months of my life.

Why are you an artist?
I don’t know how not to be one.

How important is art for you?
It saved my life…. That’s important.


Your art education was…?
Is…. Art education never ends.

Sorry…. Being a smart ass.

All my important lessons have come from my interaction with working artists. People that lead by example and get the job done. Not all artists comprehend work ethic.

What did you do before or during becoming an artist?
Worked in restaurants.

Is there any one thing that has given you a big buzz in your art career so far?
I did an Artist in Schools residency through Arts Victoria in 2008, which was a ‘Big Buzz’. I also work every year with grade 3 and 4 kids to make a totem pole for their school fair, which is always a highlight of my year.

Does the “creative process” happen easily for you?
Yes, I draw every day, everywhere. It can cause issues.


Have you had any commissions? Any of note etc…
Yes I find commissions exciting; it must be a collaboration of sorts for it to have any chance of success. I understand why many artists run a mile… it can be tough going if you don’t sort out the rules at the start. Having a good gallery assist you is imperative.

Do you have much contact with other artists?
Yes, daily at the studio.

Any upcoming or completely new projects you want to talk about?
I will be exhibiting in Melbourne with Gould again in 2010 and have plans for 2011. It is really important to balance the project at hand with future planning and know that when it is done, you’re not.

Working towards an exhibition, is it a daunting task?
No, it’s all planning. However I did earlier describe my current exhibition as daunting but I think that’s just the idea of starting it all over again.

Some say the lifespan of many “artists” post educationally is about five years, any thoughts on that?
Bullshit how…. Lifespan? They need more education.

If you could have any piece of artwork in your personal collection, what would it be and why?
I already have it. Well, I am getting it back from the framers today.

Do you keep an Art Journal or Visual Diary of some kind?
Yes, I have many sketchbooks. You can see some of them on under works on paper. I will post more before the October exhibition.

What happens to works that “don’t work out”?
It all works out, it just might not have been resolved yet.

One thing you wish you had listened to from an art teacher or lecturer?
I have a teacher say to me “Art is Not a Career” If you look over my visual diaries you will see this comes up time and time again. It can be taken a number of ways and I like to watch people’s reaction when they first read it. (btw the teacher was being negative)

Do you have a personal philosophy that underpins your work?
Work hard.

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

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Australian tax ruling benefits artists!

The Australian Tax Office has a ruling which could benefit many Artists…

The main points of the ruling mentioned in this article are:
1. Purchased (And Paid for) prior to the 31st Dec 2009
2. Write off 50 percent of the purchase Price
3. Artworks classify as depreciable Assets
4. An annual income of less than A$2m for 50% deduction
5. 10% deduction if the Annual income is greater than A$2m
6. The Artwork must be NEW – A work that has never been sold before.  (from an artist, primary Gallery, not the secondary market, eg Auctions etc)
7. Displayed for a Dominant Business Purpose (In Australia)
8. If a home office, then hung in that office and not the living room.
9. Artwork must be held for a minimum of 1 year…


Chelsea Gustafsson – Regional Contemporary Artist

Welcome to a fresh new series of interviews on Regional Contemporary Visual Artists, these are Artists who live outside major cities and often face differing challenges to Artists “In the thick” of a busy contemporary art scene, which can often be found in big cities…

My aim is to showcase these Artists from time to time and give them a few extra moments of “fame”. To start out I want to introduce you to some Geelong regional Artists, for the overseas readers check out Geelong and the “Great Ocean Road” online to see what you are missing.

If you are a Geelong artist or indeed any regional artist outside a big city… consider dropping me a line to be interviewed. Remember though the focus is on contemporary works.

Chelsea Gustafsson, is first off the rank….


Tell us about you and your art ?
I live in sunny Barwon Heads with my husband, dog and chooks. I’m currently studying graphic arts and about to complete the course and be thrown back into the real world. Studying full time for a couple of years has been very indulgent and a load of fun, but I’m looking forward to having some paid work again and my weekends free to paint, surf, hang out, whatever. This year in particular I haven’t been able to paint as much as I would like to, but I’d probably complain of that regardless of the amount of time spare anyway.

How long have you been apart of the Visual Art scene here??
I moved to Barwon Heads from Melbourne in 2004 and just kept plodding along painting and doing what I do. I’ve participated in a couple of local exhibitions here, in Barwon Heads. In 2006 I successfully entered the Geelong Regional Artists Exhibition and then this year I was fortunate to be invited back to exhibit in their 7 year Retrospective Exhibition. I’ve had some paintings up in Torquay, but other than that Melbourne’s nice and close and there’s loads going on there with annual exhibitions and art prizes to enter.


What do you like about being part of this region?
The environment. I grew up in a small community in East Gippsland and it just seemed right to settle in a similar kind of environment after running amok in Melbourne and overseas. My husband and I both enjoy surfing, so somewhere by the coast was a no-brainer for us.

Tell us about your working arrangements?
I’ve just packed up my studio space actually. I had a room at the front of the house set up with an old drafting table as an easel and all of my materials and bits of inspiration scattered throughout. But I tend to use the kitchen table most of the time, so I had a ruthless spring clean and squished everything into a cupboard. I generally work quite small so it’s not too hard to pack things away again. I think I need it for my head-space too. If I’m returning to work on a painting and there’s too much “stuff” existing around it I find it quite hard to get back into the groove of it. Less clutter equals a clearer head for me. I do have intentions of setting up the garage and taking over there though!


A bit about your art background??
I left High School and went on to study painting at RMIT TAFE. One of my painting lecturers told me I’d never amount to being more than a waitress. I haven’t worked hospitality for awhile, I’m probably not even qualified enough for it these days. Maybe I’ve amounted to less than even he expected! I’m pretty happy with where I’m at, at the moment though. Not happy enough to just cruise with what I’m doing, there’s always more to strive for, but I don’t feel like a complete cock up just yet.

What do you do other than Art??
Other than art? What else is there? I’m currently studying graphic arts, but I guess that doesn’t count. Surfing. Kicking the footy at the park with my husband and dog. I really do like arty stuff. It is a pretty broad term though isn’t it? Art.


Do you catch up with other Artists in the region?
Not really. I have a friend nearby who I met back at RMIT TAFE, we’re both a bit useless at catching up regularly but we will call on each other when needing inspiration or a pat on the back. I also recently had lunch and a chat with someone that I have only crossed paths with a few times. He’s just getting back into his more creative side and wanted to know how other’s go about their craft. I don’t think I told him anything he doesn’t already know, but it’s good to reaffirm with yourself sometimes that you’re on the right path, or have “stuck” moments just like everyone else. I think we all second guess ourselves and lose confidence in what we’re doing sometimes. It’s usually an up and down thing.

Being a touristy area, do you take advantage of that somehow??
I try to, but I don’t exploit it as well as I could I don’t think, but that comes down to a time thing mostly. Earlier this year I had a series of small works up at TigerFish
in Torquay. Their size and price made them quite accessible for tourists passing through. I intend to keep up this series but there’s that time thing again!

Do you have a web presence??
Not yet… I thought I would by now. I intended to! It’s getting there. I’m hoping to be on top of that in a couple of weeks…


Do you have a highlight in  your art career you want to mention?
I was pretty chuffed when Linden Arts Centre in St Kilda asked if they could use one of my paintings to promote the following year’s Linden Postcard Show. I got a few calls and messages from folk recognising my work travelling around Melbourne on the trams as a poster.

How does the process of creating an art object begin for you?
Sometimes it’s just a colour that will dictate what I paint. Sometimes just a situation that may appeal to me and I’ll create a scene to photograph for reference and work from there. It can just be the way some lines flow through an advertisement that sparks something. It comes from everywhere. I draw it up, transfer it onto the canvas and then it’s just like paint-by-numbers from there.?

Did you choose Art or did Art choose you?
I chose it from since I can remember. Don’t all kids like art? I just kept doing it, and missed it whenever I stopped doing it.

Any advice for a young “Artist” contemplating dedicating their life to Art?
You’ll either do it or you wont. It’s really that simple. I’m sure it’s the same for someone who is good with words, they write because it’s pleases them. Whether you make money from it or not isn’t the driving force behind it.

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

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Irene Wellm – Artist

Irene Wellm is a Melbourne based artist whose large scale oil paintings of mysterious and magical scenes reveal a fascination for the human psyche.

With a career spanning 30 years, Irene has exhibited extensively both in Australia and internationally. Her work likewise is in international and Australian collections notably Artbank and Ballarat Regional Gallery.

Irene is currently working long hours in her Clifton Hill studio as she completes work for her first solo exhibition with Catherine Asquith gallery, who she joined earlier this year. “Something Like Us” is due to open on Thursday 8th October, 6 – 8pm. Irene’s work can also be seen online at


Image: Something Like Us, oil on linen, 122 x 183 cm, 2009

Artist’s statement…
Painting for me is a way to tell a story. It provides a conversation with the unconscious and is a way to gain insight, a way to become civilised.

Most people aren’t what they appear to be. We are ambiguous expressions of varying facts and fictions at different times, and as an artist I am interested in finding a way to express this about myself, and about people in general. The background to my work is inspired by a personal interest in depth psychology and Carl Jung’s theories on the process of individuation.

Recurring themes are searching, displacement and the idea of ‘home’, or belonging – where do I belong? So a painting may address this along the lines of ‘lost and displaced’ or may express associations of where the feeling of belonging is met, or the search for such. The sense of a dreamscape is often in my work, whose meanings are also explored through the physical handling of the painting style.

Have you always been interested in art?
Yes, ever since I can remember, I have liked being creative by drawing and writing. My family on my mother’s side was particularly creative, and my mother had been on the path to becoming an opera singer when she was in Denmark after WW2, but she got tuberculosis and it stopped all that. My Aunt creates pictures by weaving that have been quite large in the past – some bigger than my work!

My earliest work of art was in my older sister’s room, on her wall, in ink. It was grand, but my parents apparently didn’t think so! I was 5, supposed to be having a nap. But the allure of the ink bottle on the desk was too great.


Image: Von dem Vater, oil on linen, 152.5 x 122 cm, 2008

What is your earliest memory of art?
A Salvadore Dali painting – one of his more gruesome ones, Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War), 1936. I was probably no older than ten, and it was my mother’s book. I remember sitting on the floor and staring at it for ages, trying to fathom what on earth it was all about.

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?
That certainly is what I hope for, that my work might live on a little in the minds of those who see it. I think some part of me wishes to make art that makes a difference in some way. I know from my experience that there are paintings I have seen by other artists that live in me continually, and they have broadened my language and visual perceptions of my environment. I think a good artwork contains a dynamism even within its stasis as a physical structure, and it holds this movement like a life force. One can only aspire!

Which is more important to you, the subject of your painting, or the way it is executed?
I try to give equal importance to both, because with my current work the way the paint is laid down is an important part of the language about an idea, so it all ties in together. I like to use the paint in a more expressive way that will add depth of meaning to the subject, so I vary the technique accordingly.

What are the main medium/s that you work in?
I work primarily in oil paint on canvas or lately, a fine linen that is oil primed. It suits the way I work in that the weave doesn’t interfere visually with the thin layers I mostly use. Oil primer allows the paint to sit on top, rather than sink in as happens on an acrylic primed surface.

Do you work from life, or from photographs or from imagination or some other method?
All of the above. Sometimes I begin with an interesting photo I might have found, from my own collection, or from the Internet, and I play around with it as one might do with a collage, but on the computer. Other times, the seed of an idea flashes through my mind, and then I go on a hunt for references or make my own, and piece it together. After that, I draw it up on my canvas and let another process begin. The collage work is really only a starting point most of the time, because then the painting process takes over, and decisions get made along the way accordingly.

It’s a bit like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle – every new development sets off another conundrum, and I keep going until the last piece slots into place. Of course, its not always so straight forward… It can really be an emotional roller coaster, with one day up, the next really low. And when there’s the added pressure of a show approaching, it can bring a lot of sleepless nights. But mostly by now I have learnt that I just have to trust the process, and generally I will get there in the end.

When you create your work is it somehow an emotional relief as you do it or at the end?
Not so much an emotional relief but a joy that starts to bubble up when things start to pull together towards the end. Before that I can get quite stressed and impatient.

Would you say your paintings reveal something private about yourself?
Most definitely, they do, but half the time it takes me until long after they’ve been completed to really understand what that might be. Because of my working method and my interest in ideas from the unconscious being allowed to come through, it seems to be inevitable. Of course, then people want to know what it is they mean, and I have to say, well, I’m not sure, I don’t know yet. And if I have a clue, well, then I don’t really wish to share such things with a stranger anyway. And really, it doesn’t matter that I don’t know, because people will always bring their own ideas and experiences and their own unconscious with them – which can then make for a very interesting discussion.

So mostly I prefer to leave the mystery within rather than analysing it too much.

Does some of your current work reflect your earlier works?
I find that the making of work has a cycle, one that goes around and comes back to ways of seeing that you did when you first started to paint. But you never arrive at the same point as you did, so it’s like a spiral. Ideas develop and mature as you do. So, yes, I constantly find echoes of past paintings, especially lately. I keep finding myself in the forest, but thankfully not as a little girl anymore!

Recently my work has become more about people again, which was what I was interested in during the ‘80’s and early ‘90s.


Image: Siren, oil on linen, 142.2 x 152.4 cm, 2009

How did your first solo show go?
I had my first solo show the year after I graduated from Melbourne State College (now Melbourne Uni) in 1986. It was at the long defunct Roar Studios in Fitzroy, and I exhibited the paintings I did in my final year. In hindsight, it was probably too soon, but I just assumed that’s what you did if you wanted to be an artist. It seemed very natural.

It was a good night with friends and family, and I even sold two paintings. It’s so long ago, I don’t recall any reviews or such.

I have a long exhibition history of various solo and group shows from that time on, all at various cafes and artist run spaces up until 1999. After that it was with commercial spaces.

Did you have any idea about how the art world worked in the beginning?
I had absolutely no idea. My training had been for teaching, and that’s what was focused on, not how to be an artist – although we were taught by artists, including Terry Batt, Godwin Bradbeer and Claire Day. We had an incredible professional practice regime in those years, hours of drawing and painting. How could I teach after experiencing that? The main turning point came after hearing Wendy Stavrianos give a talk in one of Suzanne Davies’ Contemporary Art classes. That was it – I had to paint forever!

After graduating, I wanted to do a post-grad course at RMIT, but I didn’t get in, and I didn’t know anything else about art schools. I was very naïve, very young. So I went and found myself a studio to work in, found part time work, and just kept going.


Image: Silent Dreaming: The Warning, 152 x 178 cm, 2006 (Collection of Ballarat Regional Gallery)

You have been exhibited many times since that first showing and been represented by some quite prestigious dealers – has it met your expectations?
I think, first of all, that a lot of my expectations were unrealistic. My first commercial gallery was Gallery 101, and I left them after a year to try and find my place in what I believed was a gallery with more kudos.

I had felt that I was lost in a large, much older stable, and I wanted to be in amongst artists my own age, where I believed the ‘pulse’ would be…. I’m sure I came across to Diana as incredibly ungrateful. Thankfully, she still talks to me! I respect what she does immensely, and her gallery was a beautiful place to show my MFA work.

After that I was taken on by Nellie Castan, and it made a lot of difference to everyone else that I was there. I know now that it helped my need to be seen as an artist of merit. That’s the honest truth. I was so thrilled to be a part of that scene, and it did my ego an awful lot of good!! But it was not meant to be forever, as life had different plans for me.

I had believed that a gallery would support an artist through their whole career, but I found out that this is probably an old fashioned idea. And not one that NCG could honour for various reasons. The experience of being asked to leave was a very painful one, but a good wake up call. Leaving there relieved me of a lot of pressure to “be” someone, someone that it wasn’t in my nature to be.

During this time I was taken on by Michael Carr in Sydney, but that was short lived as he went bankrupt after a few years. But my one show there went really well.

Since then I haven’t pursued a gallery in quite the same way. I needed to let someone find me, someone who would understand where my work was coming from, and hopefully build a relationship from there. This is what has happened with Catherine Asquith, where I am about to have my next show.

Do you have any cultural connections that you think may be relevant to viewing you work?
I have cultural connections to Germany and Lithuania, providing me with influences as I grew up. Ghost stories seemed to be everywhere! Faeries and other creatures inhabited the trees and flowers, and goodness knows what trolls lived in dark places. The dead walked among us, and to spook my elders was the greatest challenge for me (I learnt this talent from my maternal grandmother).

As I am growing older, I seem to be developing a strong connection to my German side, especially as I am mostly attracted to German painters – Anselm Keifer, Neo Rauch and Daniel Richter to name a few. I think the attraction is the cultural element, and Germany’s history of Romanticism in connection to the forest. A lot of my work over the years has had elements about a person being connected to nature in one way or another.

In 2000 you were one of three Australian finalists in the UBS Art Award in London which traveled to Basel, Zurich, Geneva, Monaco, & Munich. What was that experience like? Did it lead to further success for you?
That particular time in my life was such a turning point! I was at the VCA doing my Masters degree, and the opportunity came up to enter a new prize. My supervisor Su Baker encouraged me to try – I almost backed away as I didn’t feel I had anything current in my work that was up to scratch for an international competition.

The experience was exhilarating and frightening all at once. I was chosen as one of three finalists from Australia, and we were flown to London by the UBS Corporation to partake in a huge event. The show was held at the Whitechapel Gallery, and was judged by Nicholas Serrota from the Tate. I have never seen so much money put into something for art. They flew all the artists (worldwide – twenty or so) and their work there. They put us up for a couple of nights at a big hotel, did a swanky catalogue, and generally made us feel great.

After that was done, I stayed in London with a friend who was there from the VCA on exchange at Slade Art School. We were on a houseboat on the Thames! Then I traveled to Madrid and Bilbao, Spain and Paris, France for another two weeks, looking at art and just walking everywhere.

As to where it led, well, here in Australia, the whole event barely registered a blip, as far as I know. That was a strangely disconcerting experience, after all the fuss I had experienced in the UK. I really don’t know how much external success it granted me when I returned, but as far as my painting was concerned, I launched immediately into a new body of work with real confidence. I think that was what the whole experience gave me – a greater confidence in myself as an artist.


Image: Untitled (Fall), oil on canvas, 168 x 168 cm, 2000

How do you continue to grow, or is this not important?
This is really important to me. All my creative and personal life, developing who I am and how I create is all that has mattered to me. And as I get older, it matters more and more.

It is often commented to me about how my work has changed over the years, that I don’t do the same thing over and over. It’s really been a long journey finding my way as a painter. I don’t know how young kids just go out and do instant styles – I guess we’re all different, thank goodness! But for me, it was trial after trial, and a lot of exploration of other artists. I know now I could never have done anything differently, because you are who you are.

The ‘Art Market’ may not have been able to keep up with me, but that’s their problem. Well, actually, it’s yours too if you really just do art to sell. And of course, I want to sell my work too, but my deepest creative impulses never seemed to have the same agenda! I was and am driven from a place that has it’s own path, so that has effected my career greatly. I’m pretty sure I even lost representation by one gallery because of it. But what do you do?

If I try to do what I think is the way to go commercially, it all dries up inside me and I get bored with what I’m doing after a year. I feel empty, and really, there’s no point painting then. Conversely, that’s not to say it wasn’t all a part of a learning process ultimately. Every diversion, every exploration has taught me a lot.

Now, in my practice, I grow by continually looking at art – on the internet, in magazines, and go on the very infrequent overseas trip when I can – that is definitely the best way to grow. Each time I went overseas, it gave me such a distance to look at what I was doing so I could gain the courage to make a leap forward.

And personally, I am very interested in Jungian psychology and dream interpretation, and what Jung calls the process of individuation. I am currently devouring all the books I can on these subjects, and others by associated authors. It brings me into the interpretive fields of myth, fairytales, and alchemy, which are all rich pickings for my work as a painter and storyteller.

This aspect has never changed in my work.


Image: August, oil on linen, 134.6 x 167.6 cm, 2009

Do you feel there is a contradiction in the inherent nature of creativity and desire to experiment with the way the art industry seems to operate (e.g. establishing a recognisable ‘style’)?
Well, yes, I do. It goes back to what I was saying before about the need for growth. The Art industry is a business like any other in this current climate, and of course they want to make money, or gain kudos. I think an artist has to find a way to travel along on the outside of this if they really want to find their own personal way, especially in the early years.

After a while, you find you can dip your toes into that realm every now and again, but I don’t think it’s healthy for an artist to stay there. But when we are young, we want to be appreciated by whatever the Art authority is, and we are easily swayed. Well, at least I was. Maybe things are different for younger artists now. Their education is certainly different.

Perhaps it comes down to a separation from what was once seen as the inherent value of Art and the Artist in our culture? Ever since the concept of ‘Economy’ took a hold, it seems to me the more humanistic values have mostly been forgotten in lieu of fame and fortune, and ‘sell-ability’. It’s not that it is bad to want all that, it’s just that I think an artist needs to find more of a balance, more of a deeper understanding of where their internal creative motivations and drives are coming from, if they want to work confidently with the Industry without it effecting who they are within.

What do you believe is the hardest or most challenging aspect of being a professional artist… and the most satisfying?
The hardest is staying true to myself at all cost, regardless of whether others like or approve of what I do. I would say this has been my greatest challenge – to believe in myself, to persist and maintain courage in what I was doing, even when external ‘success’ was not apparent. And to learn that ‘success’ has different meanings and that things take time.

The most satisfying is being able to paint, and making work that is interesting to me. And the feeling I get when a work starts to come together!

Every day I am grateful that I can come to my studio and work.

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Compiled and edited by Amanda van Gils © 2009+

Thanks fellow Arties!

One of the joys of running this site is seeing the donations people make to assist with the running of the site… 🙂 it gives me great satisfaction to see others like what happens in here! This month there have been two donations and in the past few months there was a few others.

Like Paul Kelly’s song says “From little things big things grow!”

Yay to everyone who has given so generously (hey, even $5 is generous to me most days!)

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Rehgan De Mather – Artist

Rehgan De Mather from Melbourne is currently represented by Cowwarr Art Space (VIC), Jackman Gallery (VIC) & Linton and Kay Contemporary (W.A) and says he has been making art since he was a teen. His website is Rehgan works in Acrylic, spray enamel, oil stick, collage and assemblage and enoys travel and music.


Artist’s statement…
In music, sampling is the process of taking a pre-existing piece of recorded material and reusing it to create something new yet undeniably familiar. It’s a way of cutting and pasting an interesting lyric or break to be born a new in a different context.

Originally born out of necessity, patchwork was a way of making fabric last longer. Once a garment was worn out, it was cut up into patches and sewn together with other pieces of fabric to create a “new” useful item.

A collage, from the French word coller; meaning to stick, is a collection of disparate items combined to create something new. While my practice is primarily painting based, I employ collage and assemblage techniques to create layers of imagery, text and motif.

Much like a musical sample or patchwork fabric, I reuse and recycle previous works and canvas, cutting them up and casting them amongst new landscapes. I refer to these as “contemporary leftovers”, a collection of disjointed stories, themes and ideas sewn together across time and space.

This process is as much about building a personal iconography as it is putting together the pieces of a puzzle. Driven by a desire to create, construct and connect; collage and assemblage allow me join the dots between past work and new ideas.

How do you describe your work?
My work has been described as urban and neo-expressionistic. My work shifts between the graphic and gestural, depending on what form is most appropriate to a particular work. Although my practice is primarily painting based, I incorporate collage and assemblage techniques in my work as well.


Does your work have social, political, cultural and or personal messages?
My work is a record of both interaction and interpretation of my environment and surroundings. I view myself as a builder, collector and storyteller. Whilst the works often lack a defined narrative there are a sequence of clues; images, text, marks and motif that encourage the viewer to construct their own meaning, interacting with the work and becoming involved in the process itself.

What are you currently working on?
I am currently finishing work on a new series of paintings entitled, Movement Mashes
, in preparation for an upcoming exhibition at Linton and Kay Contemporary in Perth.


What fascinates you?
I enjoy the structure of order and the appearance of chaos…

One word or statement to describe your current works?
Movement Mashes…

Why are you an artist?
I am driven by a desire to create, construct and connect.

How did you get into art?
At age 13 I wanted to be an architect. Later I became more interested in graphic design. When I was 15 I picked up a paint brush and never really looked back…

During my VCE studies I was involved with a youth magazine, Voice, which also held art exhibitions for young emerging artists. This encouraged me to pursue my artistic studies at a tertiary level.


How important is art for you?
Very, it’s how I relate to the world around me.

What is it about Visual Art you find compelling?
The creative challenge.

Did the place where you grew up have an influence?
Growing up in the country (Gippsland) didn’t influence my work a great deal, but it did have a strong impact on my career. I was fortunate enough to have a great support network and mentors in Clive Murray-White and Carolyn Crossley from Cowwarr Art Space, an old butter factory turned into a contemporary art space. Such a place is a rare find indeed, especially in more regional or remote areas, and both Clive and Carolyn were incredibly supportive of my practice and helped foster my development as an artist. I was also offered exhibitions at Gippsland Art Gallery and Latrobe Regional Gallery, which offered me an great opportunity to develop my practice and showcase my work.

What or who inspires your art?
Words, music and mayhem…


What caused you to choose the medium you currently work in?
I’ve always worked with paint; seemed natural really. Lately I’ve been working with collage, assemblage, bas-relief and some object based work, however my practice is still primarily painting based and very process orientated.

Has your work changed much since your early efforts?
Interesting question in way. My work has changed a great deal since my early efforts, although I would say that the overall aesthetic is still quite similar. I have recently been revisiting older works, using them as collage and elements within new work. It’s a way of reinterpreting previous works, but also connecting past work with new ides.


Have your artistic influences altered over time?
Yes. When I was younger I was quite interested in the work of Jean Michel Basquiat, I enjoyed his gritty aesthetic. Working backwards from Basquiat I quickly became interested in Cy Twoombly and Jean Dubuffet, I enjoy their mark making. After travelling through Europe and the States I became interested in Surrealism and Dada, in particular the work of Schwitters and Miro; I also enjoyed the work of the CoBrA artist’s. Lately I’ve been looking at Klimt and Kandinsky, as well as contemporary artists Alan Glass and Sally Smart.

What can you tell us about your planning and making process for making art, and has that altered over the years?
I’ve always been a big list-maker. I find words are more of an influence for me in terms of a starting point; images seem to be more of a final product for me. Words>Lists>Sentences>Ideas>Images.

I should probably do more preparatory drawing in my folio, but I tend to work directly onto a canvas, working back and forth between the painting and my folio or notes, problem solving, revising, building and editing as I go.

Does the “creative process” happen easily for you?
I find it difficult to switch of my brain; as such I have plenty of ideas. The challenge for me is which ideas to pursue and resolving them effectively.

How important is the clarity of concept to you, prior to starting an artwork?
It used to be quite important, but as I have become more confident with my work and processes it has become less and less of a concern. In many ways it helps to be free of a specific vision, as I can move and evolve with the work. I’ve grown to like Dubuffet’s idea that an artist should try to relate their thoughts to what they have done, not the other way around.

Do you have much contact with other artists?
Yes, I am part of a social group/artistic collective called the Dirty Jaded Ravers.

The Dirty Jaded Ravers are a group of individuals who, as the name implies, had an awfully fun time in the Melbourne dance scene at the turn of the century. Facing nearly a decade of bright lights, thumping bass and truly crazy times, many found themselves faced with the decision to bow out gracefully and settle in Caroline Springs or to get involved in the scene they love.

From humble beginnings to random meetings, the Dirty Jaded Ravers have grown to form a large social group active in the arts, music and charity event. Included amongst the impressive group of ex-ravers are some of the scene’s much-loved DJ’s, producers and promoters, as well as established and emerging artists, musicians, graphic designers, photographers, fashion designers and multi-media artists.

Any upcoming or completely new projects you want to talk about?
Upcoming solo exhibition at Linton and Kay Contemporary, Perth. September 18th – October 3rd. Have also been selected as a finalist in the upcoming Black Swan Portrait Prize and the Sunshine Coast Art Prize (currently on).

If you could have any piece of artwork in your personal collection, what would it be and why?
Cy Towmbly’s Four Seasons from the Tate Modern in London. It’s my favourite painting, grand, poetic and lyrical. I visited it many times when I was in London.

Have you had any “big breaks” in your career?
I‘ve been a finalist in the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship (twice), City of Whyalla Art Prize, Araluen Art Award, Sunshine Coast Art Prize, Black Swan Portrait Prize, John Leslie Art Prize, and Arc Drawing Prize.

Do you keep an Art Journal or Visual Diary of some kind?
Yes, I keep a folio of lists, ideas and basic sketches.

What happens to works that “don’t work out”?
Some are reworked, others are used as collage or drop cloths in the studio picking up leftover paint and marks.

Musical influences?
Music is very important to me, and my practice. I am always listening to music; in the studio, in the car, when I got to sleep, when I wake and when I go out on the weekends.

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 enjoy giving the viewer some choice(s). I like to encourage them to get involved with the work or interact with it in some way. I think it’s important not to give away everything, but rather entice them in to the work, whether that be through colour, shape, form, pattern, rhythm, image, text or motif. There are repeated images and motifs that have become a part of my personal iconography and ongoing narrative, but many of these narratives are broken, allowing the viewer to construct their own meaning and become involved in the work.

Tell us about your studio environment?
My studio is very busy, but also very organised. I always a have a number of works on the go at once. I tend to tidy everything in the morning and move things around, before sinking my teeth into a particular painting for the day.

Is your work process fast or slow?
Both, depending on what I am working on and what process I am using. A lot of the collage work is quite time consuming with construction, composition and cutting and pasting where as the panting is much more immediate and rapid in terms of application and mark making.

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

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Sarah Parker – Artist

Sarah Parker is an Artist from Stanwell Park. Northern Illawarra. N.S.W. and has been been making art most of her life. She has been exhibiting professionally for about twenty years, you can find here website here…

What are the main medium/s you work in…
I paint acrylic on canvas and always have a sculpture on the go.


Does your work have social, political, cultural and or personal messages?
I approach my work with a personal narrative, bearing in mind that this is my trigger, and hopefully the viewer will respond to my images in their own emotional context. I have in the past dealt with a series of works about the feminine and memory, and in recent years my work has been about nurture. I’ve been painting the horse and bird image for the last couple of years, which I use as a symbol of the mother.

What are you currently working on?
I have a show this year October the 23rd– 25th at Villa Alba Museum, a historic house in Kew, Melbourne. This new series is inspired by the museum and matriarchal imagery.


What fascinates you?
Spaces fascinate me. I am intrigued by people’s houses. Landscapes inspire me. I enjoy visiting homes and looking at keepsakes people display. It’s remarkable how much space changes with personalities.

One word or statement to describe your current works?

Why are you an artist?
It was never a question to be anything else.

How did you get into art?
Art has always been in my life, so it’s difficult to pin point the moment. I come from a large family of seven children; creativity has always been part of my life. Artefacts from New Guinea and other countries my parents travelled filled our house. When my older sisters went to uni, they’d bring home poets, musicians, writers and artists and sit them at the kitchen table. I spent school holidays at drama workshops or art workshops. I was kept busy as a child creating. When I was about 6 or 7 I was forever being sent to “The Naughty chair”. Mum believed this was a progressive way to parent my misdemeanours. The point was for me to spend time thinking about my behaviour on the chair and hopefully apologise and behave. I was to be left alone. Once on The Naughty chair I became comforted by this new silence and space. I’d end up completely entranced by Arthur Boyd’s print we had hanging on the wall. I’d stare into the painting and imagine playing in his landscape. I’d get lost in that painting and completely forget why I was naughty. I was in the chair quite a bit as a child as I realised if I sat there the rest of the family would leave me alone. It was rare for me to have such a personal space with three brothers and three sisters to contend with. Arthur Boyd’s painting taught me to sit, be quiet and dream. .

Your art education was…?
I left school in year 11 and went to R.M.I.T. I had to fight my way into art education. My family wanted me to do H.S.C. but I was convinced I didn’t need it. I did the T.O.P applied arts program, and continued to study sculpture at R.M.I.T. I moved to Sydney and studied painting at The National Art School.

The craziest thing you did at art school was…
left before I finished.


Was your education helpful, or a hindrance?
I loved art school. I loved meeting like minded people. I enjoyed the cross section of students, and loved how the world just miraculously opened its glorious gates of possibilities. I was in heaven.

What did you do before or during becoming an artist?
I worked at a few Art galleries and was involved with artist run projects while I was studying and in the early years. I worked with children setting up art workshops and spent a good amount of time in retail in the years I started to exhibit. This actually helped me learn how to sell. I’ve done community projects and festivals, and still get involved with small events in the local area. I create spaces for musicians to perform in with art and lighting, cross referencing music and visual imagery.


Is there any one thing that has given you a big buzz in your art career so far?
I was offered The New England Regional Art Museum artist residency program. This was a life saver for me. I was in the perils of a drawn out divorce and was working full time to support my son. My work had dwindled, and my head was full of anxiety. Stephen from Tameresque in Sydney suggested I look into this studio residency. He called the museum while I was there I gave notice at work the next day, and arranged details for my new adventure. In one month I left with a tiny car full of canvas, paints, inks, tools, sculptures and books and drove to Armidale. I was so nervous I drove around the town three times before I entered the museum. When I was taken downstairs to the studio, I was completely overtaken. I found myself a massive white space all to myself. It was enormous, and I worked for weeks to cover the space with colour. It was fantastic. I still hold Armidale dear to my heart.


Do you remember your first painting or artwork?
I remember doing finger painting at Kindy. I loved doing those paintings and covering my hands with the paint. The best feeling was squelching the paint in my fingers or grabbing a friends hand and squashing the paint and watching it ooze and change colour. There’d be lots of laughs. It felt great. I was forever painting and making spaces and houses for my toys.

What or who inspires your art?
New cities and road trips get me going. The best time for me is to get in a car and drive. I take in all that space, or maybe I empty my mind and find solace in large open areas. When I do road trips I make a point to visit small regional museums and visit old historic sites. It is interesting how small towns in the Australian rural areas hold close the ghosts of their past. I enjoy reading how people adapt and interpret their communities. I get thirsty for museums and books.


What caused you to choose the medium you currently work in?
I work with acrylics as my studio has always been at home. In the early years my son was in the studio with me. Once he went to school, I could work with more toxic materials, and did a series of oil paintings, but generally as a rule I chose the less harmful materials. I am unable to cast my own sculptures at the foundry now, as my body has taken in too much toxins from previous castings. I pass out from the smell.

Has your work changed much since your early efforts?
My work has evolved to where it is now. My work has grown with me. My interest with feminie imagery is still part of my narrative.


Have your artistic influences altered over time ?
I’ve learnt more about artists through friends, magazines, travel and books. As a student I loved the frescoes and iconic art of the Renaissance and still do. I have always been intrigued with history, and love researching ancient antiquities. I devoured the surrealists. It’s one of my favourite movements. I love the playfulness of its manifesto. I had a major obsession with the Mexican Muralists for a while, again the intrigue with murals, iconic sculptures and frescoes from history. The work of female artists has always encouraged me to keep exploring, working and living as an artist. Frida Kahlo, Louise Bourgeois and Kiki Smith are inspirational. I understand their imagery. Andy Goldworthy’s beauty and playfulness is a joy. I have recently fallen in love with Franz Marc, and understand his love of nature.

Creative streaks do they come in waves for you?
I can look back now and say that naively I believed I could ride the eternal wave of creativity. I have since learnt and accepted the wave is tidal, and the perplexity of the ebb and flow is what I need to master. To create a wave involves 5 key elements. I believe it’s a constant, the swell isn’t always massive. That’s ok for me. I’ve learnt to be kind to myself in that regard.


Do you get creative glimpses of urges happening and how do you work with these?
I get very passionate about an idea, thought or theory. I research the idea, do a whole lot of impulsive writing, look for images, and just talk about it non stop, everything becomes part of it. The thought becomes a story board, and I live in that moment until I can paint it out of me.

How important is the clarity of concept to you, prior to starting an artwork?
The concept is the starting point for me and the clarity evolves with the work.


Do you have a personal description of “Art”?
I believe Art is all around us. It’s the perception and acknowledgement of this that is art.

Have you had any commissions?
I have spent a long time developing the knack of commissions. It’s a difficult process. Some artists scoff at commissions and believe that it takes away the focus of their personal mission. I’ve done a number of commissions for private collectors, and it’s been an enormous learning curve. It’s a compliment to be asked to paint a special piece for a family, or business. The very nature of art is about communication, and commissions are an integral part of learning how to articulate successfully.


Does the sale of your work support you? If no what else do you do to support your art (job)?
I have had years where I can support myself with my sales, and other years where I have to be more entrepreneurial. I have found that it’s easier to have a fall back, so that a body of work can be produced without selling everything to pay the bills and have nothing left for a show.

Do you get to other artists exhibitions, openings etc?
I love going to shows and openings when I can.


Do you have much contact with other artists. Thankfully I have wonderful friends and family that inspire, support and encourage me. I owe them everything. We all have a similar edge and fragility that we share and support. It’s a great thing to be understood.

Any upcoming or completely new projects you want to talk about?
In October I am exhibiting at Villa Alba Museum in Kew, Melbourne. I am collaborating with the committee of Villa Alba and the design faculty of R.M.I.T. under Marius Foley’s coordination. I have also invited Stephen Philip, a musician, to create some soundscapes for the show. Some contemporary stencil artists from Melbourne, Zvi Belling and Prowla have also been invited to contribute. The motivation for the Villa Alba exhibition is to present art in venues that inspire and reflect cultural exchange, making art more accessible within alternative environments.

Villa Alba Museum is the inspiration for the show, the muse for the artists contributing to this event. For me the house is a metaphor of nurture. My work for this show is inspired by cultural antiquity, stories, myths and images of the feminine. Villa Alba was built for Anna Greenlaw in 1870 and was handed down from mother to daughter, later to be remodelled as a dormitory for mid wives in the 1950’s and a post natal hospital for mothers and babies. Today it is in the process of being restored and is now a Museum. Villa Alba Museum is of National significance by virtue of the quality of its hand painted interiors, it’s one of Australia’s finest examples of 19th Century decoration.

Working towards an exhibition, is it a daunting task?
I find it exciting, exhausting and fun.

If you could have any piece of artwork in your personal collection, what would it be and why?
One of the Asian Minor sculptures of Artemis. It’s a reminder of history and strength, a wonderful statue of the iconic mother. It’s encouraging, beautiful and comforting.

Can you name a favourite artist or three?
Giotto, I love his figures. His images are very empathetic. Frida Kahlo I love. I read her bio when I was 17. It was a big moment for me. Her determination to succeed in Art fuelled me and gave me constant encouragement. I hadn’t read an account of a female artist before. It was only ever about the men. When I moved to Sydney from Melbourne I studied painting at The National Art School and worked at Mori Gallery part time on opening nights. This was where I was introduced to lots of female artists. At the time the common thought was that once female artists got married and became mothers they’d stop exhibiting. There were always plenty of female art students but the torch bearers of exhibiting artists were like a small coven, and it was in Sydney that I was introduced to them. Things became supportive for me in a feminine context to art. I didn’t paint massive big abstract paintings. My works were small and intimate. At the time Vivian Shark Le Witt, Jenny Watson, Fiona Mc Donald, Julie Brown Rapp, Susan Norrie, were inspirations for me. I discovered Kiki Smith a few years ago. She is from New York. Her narratives and research into the feminine are inspirational. I love Drysdale, Nolan and Boyd because they articulate the Australian landscape, the people and the space of our country so well.

Do you keep an Art Journal or Visual Diary of some kind?
I have lots of journals and books and folders that are scattered about. I always have one in my handbag. It’s a good way to sort through ideas.

What happens to works that “don’t work out”?
Sometimes I destroy them, throw them out, or I’ll paint over them. Others hang around like ghosts waiting for life. I’ve recently gone back to a painting I did in Armidale 6 years ago. It felt strange, like I was re writing some past history, perhaps it was fine in its previous state of limbo. Anyhow, that ghost has life once more and I’ll be exhibiting this painting at the Villa Alba show.

Musical influences, Okay this is about Visual Arts but most artists have favourite music they enjoy while working or just in general what about you?
Music is an important part of my creative process. Just like visual art, music imbues a mood. I’m excited about working with music in my next show. Music like visual art can bring me to tears. I believe music is provocative and significant to our language.

What sort of depth or meaning is there behind the work you do ?
In my recent series of horse and bird paintings I am exploring the relationship between animal and the human spirit. Horses in ancient times were symbols of the mother. Celtic and Gallo-Roman civilizations used the horse image to symbolize fertility, re birth and abundance. The bird and dove image has been used throughout history as the symbol of innocence, gentleness, the embodiment of divinity and the matriarch. I use the animal iconography in my work as mother/nurture metaphors.

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 use these symbols in a subliminal context. The beauty about symbolism is that each person has a story or association with an image that has nothing to do with my personal investigation. The use of symbolism in a way is the freedom to take an emotion or idea further. Symbols have been classified, and there are contexts to various imageries, but the important thing is that the viewer interprets the work from their own personal dialogue. To take the personal into the universal.

About significant moments in your life, the sort of things that changed things for you forever… perhaps altered your Art… Who how why what and where…?
Tragedy changed my life and my art. I understood beauty so much better once I experienced the darkness of personal tragedy. Maybe that’s why my work now focus’s on nurture and why I love Franz Marc so much. He understood the beauty of animals and the way emotion and communication can be simplified. I understand his gentle brush strokes and kind soft images. I also have great feeling for Giotto and Della Francesca’s work. We all have disaster swirling around us; this is the nature of being. I guess it’s how you want to see things. Life can be fast and furious. I prefer a slow and kind life. I believe the world needs more humility. The post war artists dealt with the shocking imagery of war in different ways, Marc took to nature, and in himself restored some glimmer of hope and beauty. Perhaps my paintings can soothe some wounds or translate some sort of emotion that is tender to the viewer.

If you stopped doing art right now would you miss it?
I don’t actually think that it’s possible to stop thinking about art. I had slowed down when I was ill, and that made me feel terribly depressed. It’s a strong part of me, and without it I would feel lost.

What discourages you from doing art?
I have a habit of becoming extremely sensitive. I think I become quite fearful of being exposed. If I get too introspective I can’t work.

Is motivation to work an issue for you and how do you overcome it?
I know from experience not to push and probe the beast of procrastination. The more you talk about it the stronger it gets. When motivation or lack of it comes charging through, or sneaking up, it needs to be ignored. It feeds on self doubt. I tend to look for new books or visit friends. I’ve also learnt to stop being so outrageously personal, most of my work can be viewed as a common thread or understanding. This is helpful when I get scared of being personally criticized. The theme of the work needs to be strong. This helps me feel secure to paint and motivates me to do the work. If I can somehow articulate a thought, and we’re talking subliminal as well, then I know it’s going to be ok, I’ll work hard. If there’s one notion or thought that I’m going to be ridiculed then I just don’t work. I can’t motivate myself to be put in the firing line.

Do you have a challenge knowing when a work is finished?
I have learnt over the years to understand when a work is finished. There has been some really bad judgements and a few tears in the past, but this is all part of the knowledge.

What about the role of titles with your work, some hate them others revel in them, what about you?
I like to play with titles. I get disappointed at shows when the works are untitled.

Have you had much connection post sale with purchasers of your works?
Yes, a few buyers have become collectors and dear friends. I have been supported over the last few years by these friends. I became ill and was unable to exhibit for a few years at galleries. At the start I was very attached to my paintings and protective about them. It’s crazy I know, they were like a part of me. I didn’t want my work to be stored in a cupboard or collected as an investment. I believed they had a life force of their own. It was important to me that I felt they were looked after. I want my paintings to be part of life, not hidden or unloved.

Tell us about getting caught in a creative “slump” and how you got out of it?
The slump is hard, esp when you rely totally on your income of producing and selling work. It’s a dark place that one. I’ve had to dig myself out of that hole. I have found it useful to do small art courses to help stir the pot so to speak.

If you have been working as an artist for a while, how do you feel about earlier works that are in people’s collections / ownership?
I like to visit them; some of the earlier works are silly. Some shows were such fun to do. I went through a phase of laughing at myself. It’s good to not take myself so seriously. It’s important to have fun.

Name a book or books, which may have inspired your work as an artist?
I read Angela Carter when I was at Art School. That was explosive for me. ‘The Bloody Chamber’ is unforgettable. That led to other books about female artists and writers. Marina Warner is an inspiration. I visit favourite books often; most are research and anthropological topics. I fell in love with Simon Sharma’s book ‘Landscape and Memory’ about ten years ago, and often read a passage from that every now and then. I read Sherry Ortner’s paper “Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture” last year that was fabulous, massive and educational. I research lots of topics and spend a great deal of time sourcing facts and fiction. It’s the base colour of my canvas. My works are layered with subliminal stories.

If someone says to you “Oh your work is decorative and lacks any meaning…” your response would be…?
I’d offer them an explanation about what it means to me. I’d comfort them with the notion that it’s up to them to give it meaning if that’s what they want. Some people get scared about art and think that it’s some huge dilemma and that they have no context about how to read it. Some people and some art need a translator. Some art is a different language. It’s important to make people feel comfortable. “I don’t know much about art but I know what I like.” “My six year old can do that” etc. It’s all valid really. We as the artist have a role to assist people to understand how to feel it, if they’ve made an attempt to view it, and it is foreign to them, I’d spend time with the person. All people have different processes to appropriation. I think it’s unfair to expect everyone to feel and think the same way. I don’t understand Russian, but I listen to the sounds and manner and make up what I think it’s about, look at the faces, the hands, watch the reactions. I still don’t know what has been said, but I can feel the idea of what’s being said. I’d possibly be wrong, but I’d enjoyed trying to work it out. I think the same can be applied to Art. If however it’s an aggressive attack and meant to be hurtful, I’d try to ignore them. Some art to me can seem decorative, and that doesn’t demean it, it still has a purpose.

Art as a therapeutic device; do you think it is useful for this purpose and is your work in this category somehow?
To some point it is, but in all honesty, who wants everybody to know what is in theory a private discourse. My art does calm me, and is to some degree therapeutic, but again I feel it’s important to be able to translate the personal to the universal. It’s the nature of communication. Art is a language. My intent is to offer a narrative where hopefully anyone can have a dialogue with it. Otherwise I wouldn’t find the need to exhibit. I speak with colour and my brush; it’s my preferred way of communicating.

Some say a measure of an artwork is the ability for it to hold a person’s 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?
Yes. I would like that very much. I want people to feel the work.

Some artists are more “at home” isolated in their creative process, while others revel in being part of a group to bounce “ideas off” how about you?
When I start a new body of work I need to hibernate and give the process utmost priority, I can get easily distracted and not focus. It’s a time when I don’t think about the daily routines.

Are there times of the day when you prefer to do your work?
I keep within the working hours of the day. The light is better for me, and it’s a good habit. I’ll paint after dinner as well, but generally I find it difficult to shut off if I’m in the middle of something, I’ll give myself as much time as I need.

Are you the sort of artist that seeks out promotional opportunities or one that shuns the limelight?
I get very nervous about the spotlight. It can get terribly embarrassing but it is so important. I don’t like to blow my own horn. I have been taken out of context before and I got ripped to shreds. Bottom line is I spend most of my time in a studio, not in a marketing office. I know how to, but it’s very difficult speaking about my work and not being construed as an egomaniac. People are genuinely interested in why artists spend so much time doing art, it does fascinate the majority. I think though within the art world some people can just get plain nasty. It’s tough.

Do you work from life, or from photographs or from imagination or some other method?
I work with stories and images, then paint them my way. I paint straight onto the canvas, which can take a bit of adjusting.

When you create your work is it somehow an emotional relief as you do it or at the end?
I think for me it’s a kind of meditation. Some works tend to trigger an emotional shift in me. I spent last year painting only one canvas. I’d spend weeks just looking at it, some days gently painting it. Months would go by and I’d stare at the canvas, maybe paint a thin wash over it. Like bathing a baby almost. My brush strokes were soothing. I did get a sense of calm. However it isn’t great to totally absorb all my energy into one painting. I lovingly painted that piece for a year. It was for me a weeping song of some sort. I think the tenderness of that work does translate to others. People enjoy looking at this painting and say it makes them feel calm.

Artistic Pilgrimages, any to talk about…?
I had the chance to go overseas for a family celebration in London. I hadn’t been there for twenty five years. I had a multitude of images in my head from all my art books at home and I knew I could visit the originals. I had studied these images for decades. When I went to the Tate and saw Stubbs’s horse I went completely weak at the knees. My heart was pounding and I wanted to burst into tears. It was like a skit from some romance comedy. Me rushing through the doors trying to reach this painting. I got there after many doorways and I had to try and calm down. It was crazy.

I also went to Firenze and the feeling I had there was like I was in some twilight zone. It was truly bizarre: disbelief and euphoria all in one. I spent days wondering around the city feeling so re charged. I took my time studying my beloved frescoes. It was almost like a belief had been justified. There is majesty in art, there are the masters, and they do exist.

Did you intend to become a professional artist?
Yes ever since I was a little girl. I’d pretend I was an artist and set up a shop outside my house selling “art” that I’d made.

How many artworks do you produce in a year?
The last couple of years my work has been slow. Sometimes depending on work commitments I have produced 20 images a year. In the last couple of years I have produced half of that. My work takes a longer time to do now.

Do you ever question being an artist?
As a mother I did. Deep down I knew it was the right thing, but I often felt guilty about it. I become a bit absent when I work for a show. The defining boundaries of the female artist mother have been blurred and re defined many times in my life. I thank my son for being so patient with me and understanding. I’m sure it’s not easy having an artist as a mother.

How do you cope with any low points?
In the past, not so well. I get very sensitive. It’s hard to put your work out there in the world, and watch it get devoured. I’m learning to create some sort of boundary. It’s difficult, because to be an artist I believe sensitivity is the key, to deal with the critical crowd is a different type of sensitivity all together. To acknowledge the low is possibly the best thing to do, but never wear it like a shroud.

Have you had any critical reviews and were they good, bad or indifferent?
I’ve had fantastic reviews. They made me feel welcomed. I was excited. I felt loved and understood. I’ve had a bad review and it made me feel trivial. I felt like a caged animal. It made me feel sick, I felt so stupid.

What technical aspects do you focus on in your work?
I apply many washes of thin colour, wet on wet. A lot of water is used when I paint. Then again I also paint dry on dry.

How long do your works they usually take to complete?
Months to years.

How has your mind-set changed from struggling to find your own style to solidifying what you are doing today?
I have learnt to become confident in how I paint, rather than paint to be liked.

How many artworks do you work on at the same time?
I normally work with three images and work on a sculpture. I find this is a good way to spread the paint and not waste it. Acrylics dry fast, so it’s important to use as much of it as I can.

Does some of your current work reflect your earlier works?
My work has always been inspired by stories of women. I come from a strong matriarchal lineage. My mum would talk often of her family, her aunts and great aunts. I’d ask her questions about them and their life, I’d try to imagine what life was like for them. These women and their stories were very much kept alive in my imagination as a child. When my father died I realised our lives are song lines and stories that create our identity and history. Those car trips I did with my mum and hearing her stories were in effect my songlines about the women in my history. I am one of four women in my family, so I guess we have become stories for my nieces and cousins. My mother is a great grandmother now. The stories are endless.

How did you manage to survive financially at the beginning of your art career?
Well I was poor and so were my friends, so it didn’t matter. It’s easy to have fun with no money when you’re young. I worked odd jobs and was an extra in movies for a while. That was pretty good cash and I got to dress up in very strange outfits. I also worked on opening nights at a few galleries for some years. I did a bit of life modelling, which was weird, that didn’t last long.

Did you have any idea about how the art world worked in the beginning?
I had been working in galleries and artist run initiatives as an art student so I knew a fair bit. I learnt how to promote my work and was taught how to hang a show. I made great contacts as well. I did witness some pretty nasty transactions with dealers and artists, but the art world is no different to any other industry. I have learnt to never rely on anyone else but myself. That’s been imprinted in my mind. I also know that the art world has many worlds within it. The trick is to find the one that is caring.

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

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