Last year you completed two artist residencies in Tasmania. Could you tell us a bit about the residencies and how they influenced your practice?
I spent four months at All That We Are in Sandford and one month at Q Bank Gallery in Queenstown. At All That We Are I was able to connect with the rotating roster of artists and researchers that would stay at the main house, and with my hosts Simon and Vicki who were incredibly inspiring. Being there for the transition into the dead of winter felt very significant.
Queenstown and the surrounding landscape were unlike anything I have seen before, and there was a great community in town. During both residencies I had long periods of solitude and with that there was a definite shift in my thinking, a heightened sensitivity to my surroundings and to myself. I think the main influence was that I became much more present with my practice.
You’ve said before that your work is imagination based. Do you feel that soaking in your surroundings allowed for the location to seep into the narrative?
Yes, definitely. It feels like my work is a visual stream of consciousness and having so much alone time in nature gave me a new pool of inspiration to draw from.
Motifs have been carried across the works, does each work speak to a broader narrative?
I would say the broader narrative is that the paintings portray voyages of the self, but that motifs aren't necessarily carried over with this in mind. Using the floating curtains as an example, they feel like an idea that I haven't finished exploring and they reoccur more out of my interest in painting them than anything else. In the 'Butcher Shop' paintings they are floating and beautiful, and I really like the composition of that with the red meat and the hooks. I like the juxtaposition between something that feels soft and ethereal and something that feels violent. In 'The Garden' the curtains were placed to depict the idea of constructing a play, the curtains representing a barrier between our true selves and the show we put on.
I’m not always thinking of narrative when I start to paint, it’s more that during the process meaning becomes clear. I’m drawing on emotions, observations and experiences, and then it’s like I’m trying to turn something inside out, revealing a new world as I explore it. So, motifs are often carried across works but when they are combined with different settings and figures they take on new meaning relative to that painting. Once the painting is complete I don't feel like it belongs to me anymore so the images, separate and combined, are free to reflect new ideas and meaning back to the viewer.
This series feels distinctly surreal, what is the influence here?
My ideas, interests and perspective are constantly changing, and the work is always evolving as a result of that. I am interested in fantasy worlds, the unconscious and the mystical, and I am also trying to express my inner reality, so I think the surreal aspect of the work has naturally gotten stronger. I don't know that I specifically made a choice to move toward the surreal, it just feels like a truer extension of myself.
Are there any other practices in your daily life that influence your work?
Long walks, almost every day. A lot of my paintings are worked out when I'm walking. Taking time to learn about artists throughout history, and contemporary artists, has become a big part of my daily practice. Reading, listening to music and watching movies also influences my work.
What are you most looking forward to in 2023?
I've been working from my bedroom for the past few months, so having a studio again will be heaven. Very excited to move back to Naarm also!