Belinda Fox

Travel influences Belinda Fox's art.  Living in Singapore brought bright colours, while pairing back colour in The Netherlands.  Belinda Fox causes great enthusiasm and eagerness in her work.

You majored in printmaking and spent time at Port Jackson Press do you see this as your major genre?

Printmaking informs the basis of how I work and is a big influence but I would not call myself a printmaker. I mainly paint but I work with many mediums in 2d and 3d. I guess I am a multi discipline artist these days...

 

Belinda-Fox-Pedestal-2018-110x100cm

Discuss line in your current work?  

In my latest show in Berlin the line plays an important role of tying and unifying, connecting the paintings and the printed backgrounds. I wanted the audience to have a full experience of how I create by feeling totally immersed in the work. You have lines that are quite brutal from the woodcut panels, to the soft watercolour, to the printed woodcut line with incidental lines on delicate Japanese paper. These webs of lines intersect and contrast each other giving the viewer a full experience of how I create.

Your work currently is showing in Berlin is very light – pale discuss.

I think the change in environment from living in Singapore to The Netherlands has created a paired back palette perhaps. It is unconscious really.

Can you take ‘A few Moments 1’ and expand on the work.

A few moments w 2018, Watercolour, drawing, collage, encaustic wax on board, 91.122cmPhoto Credit: Bernd Borchardt

Size: 92x122cm 

Composition:

Based on the gladiolus flower, the theme for the show and this work was ‘remembrance’ and historically the gladiolus can be symbolic of horror and remembrance. With this work the flower is abstracted to a point of departure from its origins. It hints at perhaps leaving a stem on a head stone. My daughter sees it as a scorpion tail! The idea of the show is to highlight the importance of remembering our past mistakes in order for us not to repeat them.

 Introduction of boarders:

Yes this is a new idea. The fluro orange border is designed to create an urgent jolt – like a signpost to stop and look. The natural wood is just for pure beauty and to revert our thoughts back to the wood that is also present in the printed woodcut and the actual woodcut boards. It is all connected through material and application. 

You Never Say,2017, watercolour drawing, collage, encaustic wax on board 110 x 100 cm

Photo Credit: Bernd Borchardt

Discuss the texted in ‘Drawing a Line’.

I have collaged elements into the paintings from various books that are about wars. In particular the Richard Flanagan Book ‘Narrow Road to the Deep North’. This is a physical reminder of past wars and terrible pasts that we must not forget and certainly not repeat. Current milase of human rights and morals makes me worry about this a lot!

 Drawing a line 11, 2016 Watercolour, collage, drawing, encaustic wax, wood cut on board, 91.5x122cm Photo Credit: Bernd Borchardt

Expand on the importance of having Michael Reid in Berlin, has been for you personally and other Australian artists.

I feel Michael having a presence in Berlin is an incredible asset to Australia and the artists he represents. It is brave and it is a big task to have galleries in two countries. I feel extremely lucky to have an opportunity to show in Berlin. It is of extra benefit for me living over in Europe. I am trying to gather interest over here so this show is very important for my future aspirations.

 

Michael Reid Galerie, Berlin Photo Credit: Bernd Borchardt

Explain the Asian influence in your work.

I guess Asian aesthetics has played a role n my work for a very long time from years of travelling in the area. Textile traditions and picture making in these regions have long inspired and influenced my work. In the ‘Tilt I’ a pigment print showing currently in ‘Size Matters’ in Singapore an Asian method of depicting the raging sea has been drawn upon.  This is to abstract the scene which is very graphic and distressing of refugees fleeing a sinking ship.

 

Still Life V (i feel my heart is burning) 2016, Drawing, painting, acrylic on paper 120x 150cm

You still see the need to enter Prizes such as the Swan Hill Prints and Drawing Award explain this in your current career. 

I am very particular these days about what competitions I enter. I set myself a limit of 2 per year. And I only enter something if it is good enough, or relevant to the award. They are very hard to get in to and are often an extra expense that does not always pay off! But I think awards can be great to expose your work to new audiences if you get selected in the finals. If you also win that is a big bonus. Its important not to take them too seriously though. It is highly subjective and not a reflection on your worth as an artist. 

You are currently living in The Netherlands; can you tell us how your work went to the Australian Ambassadors Residence in Deg Haag.

This was a small thing and the Embassy were very kind and asked me to contribute to a show they had planned after hearing I was living here. The work was made for this exhibition with ANZAC day in mind and I also knew it would then go to Berlin after the show in Den Haag was over.

Explain how your globetrotting life has affected your work?  

An artists life affects their work no matter what you do. So it has informed my work immensely. I am very lucky to be living in different parts of the world and learning and discovering things along the way. Where I am living affects the work I make. It’s been quite a defining aspect of my practice I guess. It’s also such a blessing to live such a varied and unique path.

Discuss your collaboration with Neville French.  How did you came together?

Tilt 12,2017, 30x32x20cm, Collection Manly Art Gallery, Photo credit: Silversalt photoghraphy

Oh! this is a whole extra interview! We have worked together for many years now. It is a wonderful and exciting ongoing conversation that I am sure will continue for a long time. We love what coming together brings out in our work. It is totally unique having two minds working towards a shared goal. It is a very special experience – when it works! Our last show was a particular high point for both of us. We combined my printmaking and the ceramics to create a full room installation. It was a very interesting and rewarding project for us. I look forward to our new adventures.

Belinda Fox, Photo credit; Hein van Liempt

Contact:

Belinda Fox

www.belindafox.com.au

insta: @foxbelinda

Belinda Fox, The Netherlands

Interview by Deborah Blakeley, August 2018


Neville French

Sumptuous-lavish, luxurious, opulent, magnificent, resplendent, lush, lavishly… These words only begin to introduce you to Neville French’s ceramics.

Zoneone Arts brings Neville French to you…

Since you have left your position as a University Lecturer, how has this extra time for art changed the input you can give to your own work?

Mungo Light 11 2014, 24x 31 x27 cm. Wheel thrown and altered porcelain fired 1320c

Photo credit: Terence Bogue,

It has enabled me to spend more time in the studio and to work on some exciting projects. I developed a new series of large porcelain vessels for the Alcoso Vitrify National Ceramics Award in 2012 that were inspired by the vast landscape and light at Lake Mungo in southern NSW.

Lake Mungo Basin, Photo Credit Neville French

This significant environment was also the inspiration for the large wheel throw and altered vessels I created for the Cecily and Colin Rigg Contemporary Design Award at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2012. I have worked with artist Belinda Fox on major collaborative exhibitions: ‘Give & Take’ at Beaver Galleries in Canberra 2012, ‘Hua Ping’ at The Cat Street Gallery in Hong Kong 2013 and ‘Tilt’ at the Manly Art Gallery and Museum 2017.
I have also had more time to further develop my interest in functional tableware and experiment with the use of coloured glazes incorporating local granite, feldspar and wood ash and to fire my bourry- box wood burning kiln.

Do you miss the interaction with the students?

It is a pleasure to work with highly motivated students and I enjoy the shared learning and inspiration that happens in a great learning environment. I enjoyed the discussion of different ideas, the research investigations and achievements of students. I am pleased to be able to focus my attention more fully on my own work though and have found an ideal balance with teaching one day a week at a private art school in Melbourne (SOCA). This has been a wonderful experience and provides a perfect balance. There is a strong emphasis on the investigation of materials and shared discovery as a foundation for the development of ideas, techniques and individual work at SOCA and I have been assisting students to develop their knowledge and understanding of stoneware glazes and forming techniques as a basis for innovative tableware and sculptural vessels.

You often exhibit with other artists and more recently with Belinda Fox. Discuss the process you need to have to collaborate at this level.

Belinda Fox and Neville French at Buninyong Studio, 2016, Photo credit: Pia Johnstone

I have collaborated on two person shows such as ‘From the Landscape’, with Cathy Franzi, where our different work and landscape references complement each other and expand the theme. This collaboration involves a juxtaposition of our individual works.

When I work with Belinda Fox we collaborate on the ideas and work together on the creation of the ceramic pieces.

We have completed four major projects since 2010. I enjoy the challenge of working together and the potential of our combined expertise. It requires courage to collaborate in this way as we take risks with each other’s work and respond intuitively to the development of forms and surfaces.
We accept the possibility of failure and we are candid with each other when evaluating results and we remain open to new ways of thinking about the work. When we work together we explore a shared vision and integrate our skills to create new work. We began our most recent project, ‘Tilt’ at the Manly Art Gallery & Museum in 2017, with discussions about humanity and the plight of refugees that are forced into dangerous situations through circumstances and the lengths people will go to be safe.

Tilt 12, 2017, 30x32x20cm, Collection Manly Art Gallery, Photo credit: Silversalt photography

The exhibition installation was designed to evoke a sense of unease in the viewer and draw attention to the dilemma of displaced people. It’s a joy to share the development of ideas and work with someone who is masterful in their art. Belinda has exceptional skill in drawing and a willingness to experiment and push the boundaries. There is sensitivity in her work and material beauty and when she works on my pots she adds a dynamic play of lines and spaces that’s very engaging.

Tilt installation 2017, Manly Art Gallery and Museum, Photo credit: Silversalt photography

Expand on the relationship of a collaboration of painting and ceramics. Were many of your pieces bought together with Belinda’s work?

The ceramics that we create together have a strong affinity with Belinda’s drawings. The pieces are often grouped in relation to paintings or prints to add a sensory and tactile 3d element to enhance the expressive intent of the work and the overall theme of the show.
The ceramic pieces are fully resolved and often sold individually but we are always pleased when works are acquired together as they retain that unique connection.

Tilt 9, 2017, Slips with woodash and limestone glazes, Photo credit: Silversalt photography

You have your work in many Australian Galleries – expand on one piece that really gave you a buzz and why.

One work that I am particularly pleased with is ‘Mungo Light 6’ 2012.

NGV, Mungo Light 6, 2011-2012, Copyright photo credit: NGV

This pair of large wheel thrown vessels was created for the Rigg Design Award at the NGV in 2012 and is now in the Ian Potter Museum of Art at Melbourne University. The pieces were scaled up, cut, altered and reassembled to evoke the flowing contours and surface of the weathered Lake Mungo lunette dunes.

 

Lake Mungo lunette, Photo credit, Neville French

It was a risky challenge and I pushed the porcelain to its limits. My intention was to distil an essence of the extraordinary landscape, space and light. It is a place of great spiritual and cultural significance. The transparent, opaque and crystalline glaze surface is semi matt and built up with multiple thin layers of glaze to capture the parched and weathered surface of the dunes and the subtle shifts of colour, light and shade. I like the space between the juxtaposed forms and the luminous glow of the contained space that shifts with changes in the ambient light ... it is evocative. The nuanced texture creates different affects of reflection and absorption of light and alludes to a depth of space. I feel the work evokes a poetic sense of the quiet, vast topography, the lunar quality of the dunes and captures the visual and sensory experience. It induces a feeling of reflection and reverence. It was the technical challenge and in the end captures something of the ephemeral effect of light and a sense of this special place.

What are some of the comments that have come about your work internationally?

Peter Schmitt MA, former director of the Landsmuseum in Karlsruhe, Germany says. ‘Neville French’s bowls form a unit of form and colour which does not compromise function but gives symbolic added value. Yet this is retained even if the observer does not know the title of the work or its reference to a specific location: “True beauty radiates from a light within”. (Eduard Morike)’’
Earth, sky, colour, light – Neville French- a master of glaze from New Ceramics, Oct,2009.

Nancy Margolis gallery director NYC says, ‘… colours and forms are so soft and luscious’.
Taken from a letter to Neville French

Artist Gwyn Hanssen Pigott says, “These are rare bowls: words like tender and generous, like temperate and powerful, spring to mind. They need to be absorbed slowly, and still they challenge summation. They are lovely empty; they would be lovely filled, say with lemons, in the afternoon light. I suspect they will surprise and nourish again and again. Like good friends. Like oases.”

Neville French: Thought and Action in Tune, Ceramics Art and Perception No27 1997

Do you see a deep and obvious Australian feel to contemporary Australian Ceramics?

Australian ceramics is diverse and vibrant and generally informed by international practice now with the advances in overseas travel and easy access to the internet. I don’t think there is an Australia aesthetic although the unique Australian landscape provides inspiration for many artists and influences the colours, shapes, scale and imagery to some extent. The land also provides raw materials and a tangible link to places. Interestingly there has been a return of interest in the use of local raw materials for clay bodies and glazes and a continuing interest in wood firing and Japanese ceramic aesthetics.

 

Winter Vessel, 2008, 29x28x23cm, photo credit: Terence Bogue

How do you see the change in both your work and Australian Ceramic generally?

My work is continually evolving, and I spend a great deal of time developing forms and colour glaze blends that can allude to the personal and meditative aspects of local places. I use the idiosyncratic nature of glaze to stimulate the imagination and evoke associations with environments. There have been some highly skilled and generous pioneer potters in Australia that have shared their hard-earned knowledge and made significant contributions to the standard of work being made here. I am very grateful to Ian Currie for his correspondence glaze course, Steve Harrison for his kiln building skills and research into local raw materials and Gwyn Hanssen Pigott who was my mentor and inspired and guided me in professional practice.
A decline in opportunities for students to study ceramics at diploma and degree level in recent years has led to the establishment of private schools that now assist students to gain the necessary skills. The growing interest in the community in handmade tableware and more meaningful and sustainable products has revived interest in handmade ceramics for use and given many potters viable career opportunities.

Enfield Bowl, 2007, 32x19x22cm, photo credit: Terence Bogue

Is there a definite feel for the land that can be seen in your work?

I grew up in Maryborough in central Victoria and my grandparents owned a farm at Eddington on the Loddon River across the Charlotte plains.

Charlotte Plains, Photo credit: Neville French

I spent a lot of time in this vast landscape and the big domed sky, vast horizon and silent spaces have left a lasting impression. Perhaps this is why I am drawn to vast meditative spaces in the environment.

 

Mungo Light 13, 2014, Photo credits: Terence Bogue

Discuss your work in relationship to shape.

I particularly admire the fresco paintings of the Italian renaissance painter Piero della Francesca. His work impressed me profoundly when I first saw them 40 years ago. They confirmed a sense of beauty and mystery for me … the monumental solidity and simplicity, the softness, clarity of light and quiet, the colour palette. In the Arezzo frescoes I saw echoes of my local hill country, in the soldiers’ helmets from the legend of the cross. I inverted the shape to create a bowl. This wheel thrown shape was then cradled and scraped to smooth the surface and create taut contours. The silky matt glaze I developed fuses closely with the porcelain body and creates a luminous depth that evokes a sense of space and light.
Another influence on the shape of my work is the human figure. I taught life drawing to visual art students for 40 years and time spent analysing the subtle contours of the body, the soft texture and tones and teaching students about structure and relationship of parts has influenced the form of my vessels.

 

Mungo Light 5, 2012, Collection Art Gallery of South Australia

How do you manage to allow such a hard material to continue to have that feel of movement?

I try to exploit the natural characteristics of porcelain when I throw on the wheel and create soft undulating forms. I then alter the vessels to extend the movement and poise. When the wall of vessels has plasticity and dense weight you can achieve certain qualities and create movements of form and surface that can be further developed at the leatherhard stage of drying when it is possible to accentuate the spring of the taut contours. There is a high shrinkage with fine clays and they appear to lose something of their vitality as they dry. The glazes I have developed have a silky shine at high temperatures similar to the surface quality of the freshly thrown porcelain and this gives the high fired porcelain vitality.

Winter Vessel, 2008, detail, Photo credit: Terence Bogue

Colour in your work is very subtle; expand on this aspect of your work?

Colour is an important element in my work for its emotive power and ability to trigger memory. I studied the German Bauhaus colour theory exercises of Johannes Itten (Art of Colour), Vassily Kandinsky (Point and Line to Plane & Concerning the Spiritual in Art) and Paul Klee’s lecture notes (The Thinking Eye & The Nature of Nature) as a way of developing my colour knowledge and understanding. My Masters degree research involved the development of a structured vocabulary of coloured glazes. I developed a palette of primary colours plus black and white in matt transparent glazes that could be layered and blended to create subtle nuances of colour and mood and give control over the emotive and expressive quality of the ceramic glaze surface.


Winter Vessel, 2007, 27x22cm, Gold Coast Art Gallery collection, Photo credit: Terence Bogue

You are influenced by the landscape, has this developed due to your relationship of living in the country?

Yes, I have lived most of my life in country Victoria and observed the space, forms and shifts of colour and light on the land through different seasons, weather and time. For the past 40 years I have lived at Buninyong outside Ballarat and the grasslands and local rounded hills are an inspiration. I have also expanded my way of seeing and expressing the land by studying artists that I admire like Sean Scully and Richard Diebenkorn who create a wonderful sense of mood and place in their work.

 

Ascot landscape near Ballarat, Photo credit: Neville French

Can you briefly tell us of ‘Your adventure’ in ceramics?

I went to art school to study painting but became fascinated by the alchemy of ceramics in my first year. I went on to major in ceramics although I continued to study painting and sculpture as well. I worked with artist John Gilbert for a year and developed skills in the creation of large coil built sculptural forms before travelling overseas to study art in the great museums. I returned to Australia with the understanding that I needed to study ceramic techniques in much greater depth to achieve the quality of work I had seen. I enrolled in a glaze correspondence course that Ian Currie he was trialling from the Brisbane College of Advanced Education in QLD and attended workshops and conferences to learn more about woodfiring. I was employed at the School of Mines Ballarat (TAFE) to establish a new ceramics diploma course and privileged to have the opportunity to be involved in the design of the new purpose built facilities. Prue Venables and I developed the new course and I enjoyed 30 years teaching and co- coordinating the program. I built a house and studio with a woodburning kiln at Buninyong and I have continued to develop my art practice from there for 30 years.
My work has been exhibited at the V&A in London, and the Grassi Museum in Germany as well as leading galleries in the USA, Germany, Korea and Hong Kong. Work is represented in many State and regional public collections in Australia including the National Gallery of Australia.

Large Winter Vessels, 2006

Discuss your thoughts on the collector. How should a new collector head into collecting ceramics?
This would of course be, to have at least one of your works.

A collector should invest in works that they like and artists whose work evolves over time … artists that have a strong commitment to a vision. It could be a single artist where the realization of the artists work can be observed and appreciated by the collector as it evolves. Perhaps another approach could be to collect a variety of artists work that relates to an aesthetic theme such as woodfired bowls. The collector could then develop expert knowledge and appreciation of variations and nuances. One valuable pleasure would be the opportunity to handle pieces and experience the weight, balance and material qualities.
I like pots that have a quiet and powerful presence and are beautiful, calm and evocative… poetic and mysterious vessels.
Pots can be intimate sculptures and through their use and visual presence can help provide respite from the chaos of daily life and expand and enhance life.

Contact details:
Neville French

nevillefrench.com
E: nevillefrench@bigpond.com

Interview by Deborah Blakeley, August 2018


Eleanor Bolton

Sailors, Scouts and Girl Guilds all know about knots, now Eleanor Bolton uses historical knotting and coiling techniques to make contemporary jewellery. Eleanor Bolton keeps these traditional crafts alive and relevant, while pushing the boundaries in her jewellery.

Zoneone Arts brings Eleanor Bolton to you.

You studied at the Royal College of Art and on graduation, started your own label.  This is a huge step to make please discuss this monumental move and your belief in your art?

It was a really natural transition, I got commissions and invites to exhibit off the back of my MA graduation show so I just did it. I networked, gained contacts and some loyal customers whom still sell to today. There was no plan, when I started I was also working part time in a shop to pay the rent and made jewellery from a little table in the corner of my lounge. I think the momentum I had during the last year of my masters spurred me on and not so much my belief in my work, but others wanting to purchase or exhibit it that kept me going. After about a year I set up my first studio and have continued ever since.

Half Coil

Your jewellery is full of line and details discuss?

My designs come from a focus on an intuitive and sensitive approach to the micro details of making processes, as well as to the precise scale of the pieces. This attention to detail, combined with the innovative use of the materials define my approach. The simple line is a key detail across the work, combined with blocks of colour, this is what I think gives it strong aesthetic appeal.

When and how did you decide to combine coiling and hand stitching, also how were you introduced to these techniques? 

While I was studying at the RCA I found I got frustrated with metals which where to that point were the main materials I worked with. I started to play with textile techniques and fabrics, ropes and cords and enjoyed creating 3D forms in a more direct way. Playing with stitching into the rope and forming it into coils came from this experimental period.

Can you comment on your colour combinations?

Colour inspiration for the collections often comes from fine art and the bold use of colour and textile techniques marry to create statement tribal and nautical inspired jewellery. When I’m designing I tend to start with a colour palette which is often inspired by a painting or artwork or artist. For example the colours for the Paint Box collection was inspired by the works of David Hockney and Friedel Dzubas. The colours both artists used are bold and also reminded me of hot summers in mediterranean countries. I wanted a summery feel to that collection and looking at those artists works provided the colour palette of turquoises, blues, rusty oranges, mint greens and yellows, which formed the starting point for the the collection. Previous collections have also been inspired by the colours of Mondrian and Sonia Delaunay to name a few.

Mondrian Collection

Expand on the use of pattern through the coiling?

I wouldn’t say I use the coiling as a pattern as such, but more as a way to create three dimensional form, take the line of a piece from 2D to 3D. It allows me to create sculptural yet lightweight tactile jewellery. There is a simplicity to the coiling that I find so pleasing. It mimics many forms found in nature.

 

 Multi Strand Necklace, Natural

Discuss the way you have used and added metal to your pieces?

The metal elements often form a point of contrast - the shiny hard gold or silver against the soft matt finish of the cotton rope or yarn is part of playing with textures and highlighting the materials different qualities. Sometimes however metal elements are also added purely for functionality. Sometimes only a metal clasp will do!

Thick Stipe Bracelet, Honey and White

How influenced do you need to be by current fashions and colours?

Not consciously, I don’t go out to follow trends with my work. However as a person in the world I am always taking in what I see and so inspiration may come from a current fashion or trend colour fuzed with another idea or visual reference.

 Bangles stacked

When do you use bright colours or is it seasonal? 

Bright colours come and go depending on the inspiration for a collection and the materials I am using. For a while I was enjoying working with some fluorescent rope -really bright reds and yellows. But I’m currently favouring more muted tones.

Comment on the fine details in Dora? 

The Dora is a short necklace combining either a block of sandstone or honey coloured yarn flanked by dark grey and white stripy sides and finished with a gold plated or silver ends and clasp. I love playing with combining yarn colours in this way, the stripes especially - a hint to the nautical associations of the rope core.

 Dora, Honey

You have also collaborated with other brands and their collections.  Discuss you work with Wéngko and Molé.

Resort wear brand Wéngko Molé approached me about collaborating on a range of rope belts to work with their digitally printed silk garments. It was a lovely project to work on, I worked closely with founder Christina Pistofidou to develop the collection that complimented their prints and worked across the collection.

Not only is your work beautiful and unique you are happy to share your techniques through classes – expand on this.

Half Hitch Necklace

Teaching the creative workshops is a chance to share my knowledge, it’s fun and inspiring seeing the how the students take on different aspects of the techniques and take them in different directions. I don’t teach all of my techniques, I do keep some back for myself and the workshops are definitely just a taster session, a starting point for students to be creative with the textiles for jewellery under my guidance.

Please give us your thoughts on the importance to foster old crafts in a new way.

It’s so important, when you work with traditional crafts and materials putting a new spin on it keeps it fresh and exciting. Keeps them relevant. But it also sets you apart as an artist to be taking the traditional techniques and using them in new ways, trying to push the boundaries of the materials you use or using them in new ways.

Contact details:

Eleanor Bolton

studio@eleanorbolton.com

www.eleanorbolton.com

Instagram - @eleanor_bolton

Eleanor Bolton, London, UK

Interview by Deborah Blakeley, July 2018


Tessa Bunney

Can you expand on FarmerFlorist Exhibition?

 How did you become involved?

I have been working on FarmerFlorist for just over 2 years – prior to that I had been living in Laos for four years enjoying travelling and photographing both for various clients and my own projects all over southeast Asia. Although I wasn’t really looking for a new long, term project I happened to notice a nearby farmer’s market in Hovingham, a small village nearby my home in Yorkshire, UK. There was a list of stallholders one of them being Ducks and Daffodils, an artisan flower grower and florist who was based nearby. I noticed that they are a member of Flowers from the Farm, so I got in touch with Gill Hodgson who set the up the not-for-profit network in in 2011 and the project developed from there.

From the series Farmer Florist

From the series Farmer Florist

The importance of British Flower Week?

British Flowers Week is the annual celebration of British flowers and the UK cut flower industry. It is the initiative of New Covent Garden Market, London’s original fruit, veg and flower wholesale market and has been running for six years with the aim to promote British flowers, their growers and the independent florists working with them. It provides a focus for celebrations and events of course British flowers are available all year round. It seemed like an appropriate time to launch my project. 

The importance of making people aware of British grown

We are a nation of farmers, of gardeners, of flower lovers and our cut flower industry is worth 2.2 billion pounds a year. Flower farms were once a familiar feature of the British countryside and market gardeners grew flowers among their vegetables. In the 1800s, larger farms sprang up as transport links improved and daily trains carried violets from Dawlish, snowdrops from Lincolnshire and narcissi from Cornwall. Flower productions has always necessarily been linked to transport, and with planes came distance. Now we can have any flower at any time of year, flown in from the equator, or hothouse in vast Dutch greenhouses.

 

From the series Farmer Florist

From the series Farmer Florist

Recently several smaller British flower farms have sprung up, fuelled in part by the wider, resurgent interest in locally produced, seasonal, sustainably grown produce.

“Nothing is exotic, they are all flowers that have been grown here for centuries. The issue is that people have got so used to a diet of chrysanthemums, carnations, roses, lilies and gerberas that there is a whole generation that don’t recognise anything else”. Gill Hodgson, Fieldhouse Flowers. 

From the series Farmer Florist

 

From the series Farmer Florist

How did you choose the growers?

To start with I used the Flowers from the Farm website to discover flower farmers both in my area and further afield. They are quite social media savvy and many of them have wonderful Instagram accounts, so I found others through that. I asked for recommendations from other growers. There are so many to choose from (over 500 members) it has been very difficult aside from my local growers whom I visit regularly I am looking for a wide geographical spread. Recently I have expanded the project to include larger scale commercial growers in Lincolnshire who operate a different model of flower growing, but equally as fascinating.SE Warner + Son, Spalding, Lincolnshire

SE Warner + Son, Spalding, Lincolnshire

Can you comment on your role as a photographic – Artist.

I hope that my role is a collaborative one where the communities or individuals I work with share their stories with me and I use my photo skills to interpret them.

I employ a long-term art-based practice to address some of the wider issues of landscape. This offers an alternative approach to conventional news journalism with its tendency to ‘parachute in’ on issues for a fast story. Instead, I adopt the growing practice of slow journalism, which advocates sustained relationships between photographer and subject, working closely with local people to enable more meaningful and complex stories about landscape and development to emerge.

Even with difficult subject matter for example photographing people doing something I might not be totally comfortable with, then I try to present the issue in a respectful way and allow the audience to make up their own mind.

For whatever reason, people generally find it easy to open up to me – as an outsider, a photographer, it’s quite remarkable what people will tell you and then I have to decide about what I should share further.

Your images are also works in sociology, discuss this aspect of your work.

Unlike other photographers I am not a sociologist by training or in fact in any other subject other than photography, so any sociological aspect is literally achieved by spending a long time talking to people and working in the field and allowing the story or issue to emerge in time. I often work within countries or with issues I originally knew nothing about. I prefer to start the work and allow the issues to surface and then follow up with academic research to validate my own findings. My projects very rarely start with that kind of research, my ideas are more likely to come from a radio feature (Hand to Mouth), a map (Home Work), a commission (Moor and Dale) or inspired by someone I meet or exploring a landscape.

You travel to remote places, for example Romania’s Carpathian Mountains discuss how you prepare for a trip like this.

For my project in the Carpathian Mountains – I travelled firstly on a brief research trip, so I had no set ideas about what exactly the project should be at that point or what was possible. However, I was particularly interested in shepherding and during the research trip I tried to discover exactly when activities such as the Measurement of the Milk Festival would take place, so I could plan to be there at times. I returned 8 times in total, each time I went back to the Maramures region and then to somewhere else in the mountain range so that I had the mix of getting to know several villages and people within the villages well as well as the excitement of exploring new areas. I went at different times of year and responded to the yearly cycle of the seasons. There was very little formal planning other than transportation, booking a translator etc.

IMG_2981 crop

Tessa Bunney

Other countries I have worked in especially Communist countries such as China, it has usually been necessary to prepare a detailed itinerary in advance in case of being stopped at army/police check points. Although not usually too rigid, this is difficult with the way I work as it doesn’t allow for the random exploration which I enjoyed in Romania and other European countries. 

Expand on how you build up a relationship that allows you to take portraits especially in remote places.   

This might differ country to country or how much time I or they have. For my own projects, in general I try to spend as much time as possible chatting to people or photographing them working – and then make a portrait at the end of the day or some other appropriate time during their activities. Sometimes I might meet people briefly whilst wandering landscapes and villages, make their portrait and then go. At times if I am travelling remotely especially on foot, the only way to have time with people then I need to stay with them as a guest in their homes. When I am working on personal projects, I’ve found, as many other photographers have, that the more remote you go, the harder the journey, the more authentic or unique the experience will be. There are many ethnic minority villages in Laos and elsewhere along roads where tourists stop often and then the experience is different. However, it can be more challenging if you meet someone who has never seen a camera before or has a set idea of what a photo should be normally because their only experience is in a formal portrait studio. Overseas, I always use a translator so that they can explain who I am and what I am doing.

Generally, though if I have to work in a rush or I feel the person is uncomfortable then the photo won’t be any good anyway, so I will leave it.

An Akha Nuquie ethnic minority woman, carrying grass in a bamboo basket for making a house roof, spins cotton whilst walking back to the village, Ban Chakhampa, Phongsaly province, Lao PDR. Akha women utilise every spare moment of the day to get something accomplished and can often be seen spinning cotton or embroidering a jacket everywhere from working on the farm to foraging in the forest.

This image of an Akha women spinning cotton as she returns from the field is one of my favourites from my time in Laos – we (me and a local guide/translator) had just arrived at the edge of her village after a boat trip and an exhausting six-hour hike uphill, we turned the corner and she was there, my heart skipped a beat. We stopped to chat to her briefly, Sivongxay asked her if it was OK to take a photo, I took a few versions taking no longer than a few minutes and off we all went on our separate ways.

This portrait of puffin hunter Jakob Erlingsson was taken in Iceland.

Portrait of puffin hunter Jakob Erlingsson holding the puffins he has caught that day using a net. Puffin hunting has been of major importance in Vestmannaeyjar and during the hunting season of just over 6 weeks every year, some 16,000 puffins were caught to make up Iceland’s national dinner. However by 2011 and 2012, breeding failures had taken such a toll that puffin hunting was banned in the Vestmannaeyjar. In 2013 a five-day puffin-hunting season was allowed at the end of July.

I had heard about puffin hunting and got in touch with the tourist information office in Vestmannaeyjar to see if they could put me in touch with someone which luckily, they were able to. I spent a few days photographing Jakob at work, at first the weather was terrible and then eventually some days later it cleared up and I asked him to pose for the portrait after a mornings hunting. Taken in 2001 this image already has value as a historical document as by 2011 and 2012, breeding failures had taken such a toll that puffin hunting was banned in Vestmannaeyjar.  In 2013 a five-day puffin-hunting season was allowed at the end of July. Now I believe there is now another complete ban

Portrait of a member of Old Glory Molly at A Day of Dance, the largest annual gathering of Molly dancers in the UK in Ely on 27th January 2018. Molly dancing is a form of English Morris dance and is one of the traditional dances from the fens of East Anglia. It traditionally only appeared during the depths of winter as a means of earning some money when the land was frozen or waterlogged and could not be worked. The original "ploughboys" blackened their faces as a disguise to escape recognition and the consequences of their mischievous actions.

This is a portrait of a member of Old Glory Molly - Molly dancing is a form of English Morris dance and is one of the traditional dances from the fens of East Anglia. It traditionally only appeared during the depths of winter as a means of earning some money when the land was frozen or waterlogged and could not be worked. The original "ploughboys" blackened their faces as a disguise to escape recognition and the consequences of their mischievous actions.

Here I set up a portable studio at ‘A Day of Dance’, the largest annual gathering of Molly dancers in the UK – I watched and photographed them dance and then asked them if they would pose for me one by one in front of my backdrop.

Discuss your landscape work using ‘Tidal Pools’ as your reference.

Although my work is about landscape, I don’t really consider myself a landscape photographer, I’m not interested in photographing wilderness or ‘peopleless’ places when I look at a view, I want to know who lives there and how it operates.

Mousehole Tidal Pool, Cornwall, UK. Until the 1950s and the rise of the heated indoor swimming pool, children learnt to swim outdoors. For those close to the sea, many man-made tidal swimming pools were constructed around Britain’s coastline. Heated by the sun, these tidal pools were often built to keep bathers safe from high and rough seas, which explains why so many of them are clustered in Scotland and around the surfing beaches of Cornwall. Whether they are simple swimming holes made by shoring up natural rock pools or grand lido-like pools complete with lifeguards and tea huts, they are all refreshed by good high tides.

I’m very interested in land issues and how we use it. I’ve also got little patience for waiting for the ‘perfect’ landscape shot in terms of light, if I am somewhere then I will take the photograph if the conditions are ‘right’ for the purpose.

This image of Mousehole tidal pool was the first image I made in this series – taken whilst on a family holiday in Cornwall. I just happened to be there by chance, the light, the tide and the activity was just perfect and luckily, I had a camera with me. The incongruous nature of the concrete within the natural landscape fascinated me and when I got home I did further research and realised there were a number around the coast of the UK. I then pitched the idea to the Financial Times magazine and they commissioned me to work in southwest England for a week to photograph more tidal pools – quite a bit of research was involved to make sure I arrived at low tide otherwise the pool would not be visible! People and activities were of course the crucial element which depended on luck and waiting around. 

So many of your projects are whole stories in themselves.  Can you expand on both the photographs and the story behind your Oxfam Portraits for The Telegraph?

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This was a very short story (for me) which was taken whilst on an assignment for Oxfam – shot in only a few hours but I guess the idea was germinating during the week I was working with them on Bantayan Island in The Philippines. On an early morning walk I bumped into the woman carrying a bowl of fish on her head and then devised a project around her activity which commented on the fishing industry in Pooc village post Typhoon Haiyan.

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You have four books.  They are all in editions of 1000 discuss both the books and the decision to limit the edition.

1000 copies seem to be the standard edition for photo books in the UK unless it is a very populist or commercial subject matter.

My four books have been produced to accompany exhibitions and as standalone publications of bodies of work. Much of my work, especially personal projects are supported and funded by a combination of a gallery, Arts Council England and self-funded and often a combination of all three. Some series are also part funded by editorial commissions. I love working editorially but discovered early on in my career that as I liked to work slowly and spend time with communities arts funding enabled me to do this more successfully.

Moor and Dale and Hand to Mouth were produced to accompany exhibitions and were funded by the galleries.

The bird man holding a brace of pheasants on a shoot at Swinton Estate, Nidderdale, North Yorkshire, UK

The bird man holding a brace of pheasants on a shoot at Swinton Estate, Nidderdale, North Yorkshire, UK

Home Work was published by Dewi Lewis with funding from Arts Council England, this was the first book where I chose the designer and had full decision-making control over how the book should look, what should be included and worked closely with the designer, James Corazzo, on the edit etc.

Järvenjää/Lakeice was self-funded and was more of an artist’s book with an edition of 250 produced as a lasting legacy of a residency in Finland.

In all these publications, use of text in different ways to accompany the images was a much discussed and considered element of them. I love maps and information but in each book these elements were handled differently depending on how much it was though that the images should speak for themselves (as in Hand to Mouth with extra info at the back of the book)         

Contact details:

Tessa Bunney

www.tessabunney.co.uk

Tessa Bunney, North Yorkshire, UK

Interview by Deborah Blakeley, July 2018


Chris Kettle

What has been the importance of looking closely at old masters in relationship your own work?

Before I started referencing the Old Masters my Still Life were more formal, contemporary, sometimes even clinical so I think I was looking for the opposite of that - some 15 years ago there was very little dark and brooding Still Life around, it wasn't something anyone was addressing so I found it incredibly inspiring rediscovering the Old Masters. I am always in awe of the beauty of their technique and poetic compositions. I can only really hope to capture a little of the spirit of those works, and yet try to remain contemporary in my own approach to painting.

Still Life Study with Blackberry Pie - After Willem Calf

Still Life Study with Blackberry Pie – After Willem Calf

What details have lingered and lasted from your viewings of old masters’ still life paintings?

I think many details have lasted from viewing Old Masters such as Willem Calf and Jan Davidsz de Heem - oddly there is a lingering frustration that in many ways their paintings cannot really be improved upon - they are kind of untouchable and one has to make peace with the fact that in terms of pure painting, they can't be bettered, only reexamined or 'homaged' as I call it.  There's a good reason for the continuing survival and popularity of these paintings, century after century.

Still Life Study - After Jan Davidsz De Heem

Still Life Study – After Jan Davidz De Heem

How do you set up for your still life work?

For my own arrangements such as the 'Festoon' series, I take a day to find the best items needed - (generally an 'exotic' fruit store!) and gradually arrange the subject matter and then photograph hundreds of images in various, different lights until I feel I have enough to work from.

festoon 7

Festoon #7

What lead you to consideration on Still Life Painting?

Well, I used to paint portraits - which I loved doing but I really found that Still Life challenged me personally a bit more, there was something about projecting human emotion onto inanimate objects that seemed almost absurd - I think I was sold at that point! 

What techniques are you adding or adapting in your work currently?

For me even a tiny change can make a considerable difference - recently I started using broader, angled brushes again and my recent few paintings definitely have a different feel to them as a result. I'm also rediscovering raw Linen, I'm enjoying the texture and colour of it and allowing some of it show through the paint surface.

Both colour and light are a major aspect of your work, discuss.

Yes, I hope so... I am, definitely interested in the drama of painting when it comes to lighting - I don't think I've been the same since seeing Caravaggio's grapes, I also think that darker backgrounds in painting definitely lend themselves to this, the idea of light and colour penetrating the darkness, I find it a hopeful thing as a metaphor... 

Still Life with Porcelain Jar - After Willem Calf. small file

Still Life with Porcelain Jar – After Willem Calf

You also produce Limited Editions.  Can you expand on this aspect of your work?

I know a few very good printers and I gradually drifted into it - I have to say! Over the years I've had to hone the instinct of picking paintings that would be popular enough to make print editions of - I still mostly only produce small editions mostly of 25, but never over 50, I think people appreciate the exclusivity of the smaller runs.

It's also more agreeable to the buyers and collectors who may want to own an image that they love, yet the original painting may have sold already. Prints a generally a great thing to be able to offer as anotherform of art to run alongside the paintings.Festoon 8   Festoon #8

Discuss your shows / exhibitions that have been international.

The complexities of transporting your work.

To date I've been lucky enough to have been approached by Galleries who have arranged transport of works abroad, but I find it nerve-wracking leaving any paintings in the hands of anybody else and it is always a risk in terms of how couriers handle the Art, the best results have come from handing works to one courier who takes the work all the way to the country/gallery in question. I've learned that the problems arise when paintings are loaded and unloaded multiple times by unknown handlers!

Finding and working with international galleries 

It's difficult finding any galleries generally I think - I guess we have to be open, but it's all about the right gallery who loves and believes in your work. I have a suspicion that Galleries would rather 'discover' artists, than the other way round - though everyone has their own approach to this.

The thrill of leaving your work sold in other countries

It's definitely a real buzz leaving your work sold in another country! That's real confirmation of the language of Art crossing boarders both, physically and culturally.

Explain the presentation of your finished work.

More recently, with my afore mentioned Oil on Linen paintings I have started to leave these particular pieces unframed - it's about showing the Linen, allowing the surface to sneak through a little, and even the edges of the stretcher look great in their raw linen state. That is the way I choose to present them, but if a buyer wanted to enhance them again by framing, that's fine.

I generally 'tray frame' all the study paintings, or works on Board, which are sometimes on 10mm thick panels - so they need more 'presence' - and framing gives that. 

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Take one of your floral paintings and discuss the layering of your work.

A recent more floral piece would be 'Still life of Fruit & Flowers - After Huysum' I think (Van) Huysum had a real eye for drama, and layers of subject matter.

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Still Life of Fruit and Flowers 11

I really loved the direct light onto the pale Roses near the centre of the painting and then the gradual layering of flora and fruit working in harmony... Almost framing the Roses, which are clearly the stars of this piece, with accents provided by the red/orange punch of the surrounding carnation-like flowers.

Explain the difference between your ‘study pieces’ and paintings and the technology behind the terminology.

My 'Study' paintings are an avenue of my practice that have become really important to me in a few ways. They are generally more looser, freer paintings that sometimes allow me to experiment a bit more than the works on Linen or Canvas. I can literally have fun making these, without any pressure for them to be a perfect finished piece at the end - I don't tend to make pencil sketches, so these are often my version of that - sketches in paint. With this free approach I think comes a kind of joy that can only be achieved if I am not always thinking of a perfect end result. They have become pretty popular over the last few years, and although the word itself 'Study' hints at 'unfinished' or an exercise, some of them are (in my humble opinion!) as good as the larger more accomplished works, yet also much more affordable.

Rose Study 11

Rose Study 11

Comment on the need for artists to understand the history to begin to break the rules.

I think it's an advantage to know some of the history of art - although during my college years we barely covered the Dutch Masters - I guess it's good to be exposed to as much art in our formative years as possible, it gives a sense of perspective of who we are and where we can go, as artists. I actually feel I have a pretty basic knowledge of Art History and tend to respond more instinctively than on any great academic level.

festoon 9

Festoon 9

But yes, to break or twist the rules, and to play with accepted traditions - you have to know a few of those rules...

Contact details:

Chris Kettle

chris@chriskettle.co.uk

Chris Kettle, BrightonUK 

Interview by Deborah Blakeley, July 2018


Kate Nixon

Give us your thoughts on the importance of collecting and having handmade objects large and small?

Edith Wharton once said “an object is always more than what it is: a chair is never only a chair, a spoon never merely a spoon. It travels through social worlds, and carries forward a history, belonging first to those who produced it, and later, to those who bought, used, altered, sold, traded, or discarded it.” Handmade objects, in particular, connect you to those stories of people and place. The more meaningful an object is to you, the more you respect it and look after it, and you will get more joy from using it. Plus, there is nothing better than drinking from a handmade cup.

Mint Murrine vase Photo Credit Anna Fenech

Mint Murrine vase, Photo Anna Fenech

Expand on your honours degree at the School of Art at the Glass Workshop. 

I had the privilege of completing my honours degree at the ANU School of Art Glass Workshop under Nadege Desgenetez and Richard Whiteley, and the expert technical guidance of Philip Spelman. My work explored the burden of objects and the material mass we accumulate and will eventually leave behind. My work was inspired by a unique museum collection in my home country of New Zealand. I used my honours year to investigate this theme using a wide range of materials and processes from water-jet cutting to lost wax casting to mosaic.

How did you come to be working on the ‘For Collection’ series?

I was recently a Visiting Artist at the ANU School of Art and Design Glass Workshop, which I used as an opportunity to develop some new work. These were a series of glass mosaics based on rubbish bins, trashcans and recycling bins. My work has always been concerned with what happens to the ‘stuff’ we leave behind and the transformation of value in those objects. In some ways it was inevitable that it would ‘end up in the bin’, so to say.

What are your thoughts on recycling and the ability to use, used materials in an artistic way.

Like having to kill and butcher your dinner, when you are intimately involved in the production of objects you end up with a deep respect for the materials and process, and you try not to take it for granted. Like many makers, I struggle with the footprint of making and the idea of bringing more objects into an already crowded world. It is really important to me to recycle and re-use materials in my work and to celebrate and honour the life of those objects.

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For Collection, Glass mosaic, galvanised steel, Photo Adam McGrath

Where do you get the pieces you use?

I like to use a mix of found and made materials. In this series I used a lot of scrap glass and op-shop frames. I find it difficult to throw things out, so I often find I have a stash of something somewhere in my garage.

Expand on the technique used in Bric-a-Brac.

Using the frame of an old single bed, the size as well as form references the body and the domestic, but can also be read as a final resting place. Depicting a gaudy 1970s floral wallpaper pattern in oranges and browns, my intention was that the viewer would be at once attracted and repelled by the playful nostalgia and seduced by the transformative sparkle of the 10,000 hand-cut pieces of glass. The flower, an emblem of beauty, also becomes a vanitas symbol, reminding us of the fleeting nature of life.

bric-a-brac process photo courtesy of the artist - 2

Bric-a-Brac, process, photo Kate Nixon

I used an indirect method whereby the mosaic was created backwards like a mirror image. This method involved temporarily fixing the mosaic pieces to a removable backing (contact paper) which holds the design together. When completed the whole mosaic was then transferred onto the base. I hosted a ‘Mosaic Party’ where I invited a bunch of friends over and we all spent the evening drinking wine and mosaicking our hearts out. Thankfully, mosaic is one of the only glass processes you can do while drinking wine.

bric-a-brac process photo courtesy of the artist - 1

Bric-a-Brac, process, photo Kate Nixon

Discuss the connection of glass and mosaics.

For me, the process of mosaic references the act of collecting; each one a collection of pieces, painstakingly assembled with a bigger picture in mind. The art of mosaic has a rich and long history, decorating countless palaces, cathedrals and mosques, often on a grand scale. However, in counterpoint to this, mosaic also developed into a popular craft activity during the 20th Century, decorating everything from garden tables to picture frames, with a distinctly ‘low art’, ‘kitsch’ or ‘hobbyist’ aesthetic. Glass, a common medium used in mosaic, also often straddles high and low art. I am interested in this tension inherent in the material.

Discuss your series ‘Flower Girls’. 

The ‘Flower Girls’ series was one of the first production items I created during my time as an Associate at the JamFactory. They were a continuation of the themes I had been exploring in my honours work, a playful take on the Memento Mori of the flower, but with a kind of retro sensibility. They are small intimate domestic objects, in colours reminiscent of the 1970s – ambers, aubergines and steel blues. They make lovely little vessels for cuttings and succulents, but they have their own flowers ready to go.

Flower Girls phot credit Fernanda Pardo

 Flower Girls, Photo Fernada Pardo

Your glass paperweights, explain the technique that you use putting glass inside glass.

My ‘Uno Fiori’ paperweights are basically built from the inside out. I begin by creating the coloured centre out of ‘canes’ of coloured glass. These are set-aside in a heated kiln. On a gather of clear glass, I create the stem, and then add the petals using small blobs of coloured opaque glass. The last thing I add is the cane centre, and then layers of clear glass are built up on top. The lens of the clear glass magnifies the flower inside.

Uno Fiori photo credit Fernanda Pardo

  Uno Fiori, Photo Fernada Pardo

There is a growing Glass Society in Canberra that has developed around the Canberra Glass Workshop – discuss.

Glassmakers have always gravitated towards geographically connected communities, given the necessities of working with such a challenging, resource-intensive material. Traditionally, these were tied to access to fuel to run furnaces, so we get things like ‘forest glass’ emerging in the middle ages. Contemporary glass communities are often formed around open access studios like the Canberra Glassworks and the JamFactory in Adelaide, so resources can be shared. The roots of Canberra’s glass community lie with the ANU Glass workshop founded by Klaus Moje and the visionary makers that came out of that program who fought for a facility that would give makers in Canberra a place to work once they were out of the academic program.

Gathering Dust Photo credit Adam McGrath

 Gathering Dust, Photo Adam McGrath

The importance of having other glass artists to bounce your ideas and techniques.  How does this work for you?

One of things that is so precious to me about glassblowing is the informal dialogue you have while involved in a collaborative process. Whether you are the Gaffer or the Assistant, there is always a sharing of information and ideas. I have the privilege of working with some incredible artists like Annette Blair, Ben Edols and Scott Chaseling, who I greedily mine for information, and they generously indulge me.

You are a Glassblowing Assistant how does this work?

Most glassblowing is very difficult to do on your own and complex or large work is often done in teams of three or more people. A glassblowing team is led by what is known as a Gaffer, who is the lead glassblower and directs the process, and one or more assistants. It is a bit like sailing a boat, where the gaffer is the captain of the ship and the assistant is the first mate.

kate-nixon-hotshop-52 photo by Wendy Dawes

 Kate Nixon in the Hotshop, Canberra Glass Workshop, Photo Wendy Dawes

Discuss how important your assistants are to your current work.

Assistants are critically important in blown work and I have been really lucky to have been assisted by some of the best glassblowers working in Australia today. However, we all had to start somewhere and I am eternally grateful for the opportunities I was given as a beginner glassblower to assist. It is nice to be able to pay that forward and give other emerging glassblowers opportunities too.

You have had a great deal of contact with Germany and German glass artists, expand on this link and how it has influenced your art and career. 

I was lucky enough to receive a commonwealth ‘Endeavour Fellowship’ in 2016 to travel to Berlin, Germany for a four-month residency at Berlin Glas, the first hot glass studio in Berlin. There is a beautiful, entwined connection between Canberra and Germany. Klaus Moje, moved from Germany to Australia to establish the Canberra School of Art Glass Workshop, and this fellowship was a way of continuing that legacy of exchange. There is a long history of glassmaking in Germany and it was an incredible honour to be able to experience that history firsthand by working in and visiting traditional German glass factories. This profound history was beautifully contrasted with the contemporary art scene in Berlin. Berlin Glas is at the nexus of these two worlds. Glass is a truly global community and opportunities like this to work with people from different cultures, all over the world, is one of the true privileges of working with glass.

Afterwards 2015 photo courtesy of JamFactory

Afterwards, Photo courtesy of  Jam Factory, South Australia

Discuss the importance of private collectors and how you see collectors expressing themselves by their collections.

Private collectors are a critical element in the glass ecosystem from both a financial and social perspective. As an artist, rejection is a part of life; you spend a lot of time applying for grants and residencies and entering competitions that you will inevitably not win or receive. You spend a lot of time in your own head and you often pour your heart and wallet into your work for what seems like little in return. Especially as an emerging artist, having a collector show interest in your work is incredibly motivating and affirming.

I think collectors all have their own interests, motivations and desires that they express through their collections. Jean Baudrillard once said “it is invariably oneself that one collects.” Collections have a habit of becoming mirrors into the self, reflecting us back to ourselves. 

As well as your glass art you are involved in DESIGN Canberra Festive, tell us about it and your part.

My current practice is split between working as a practicing glass artist and working at Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre. My main role at Craft ACT is to Project Manage the annual DESIGN Canberra Festival, which is Craft’s major outreach program each year. Now in its fifth year, DESIGN Canberra is an opportunity to celebrate the incredible community of makers, artists and designers in the Canberra region and connect them to new markets and opportunities.

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Contact details:

Kate Nixon 

Website: katecnixon.co

Instagram: katecnixon

designcanberra@craftact.org.au

Kate Nixon, Canberra, Australia 

Interview by Deborah Blakeley, July 2018


Jennifer Krause Chapeau

You were a finalist in the Luxembourg Art Prize, - Can you explain… about the Luxembourg Art Prize?        

Yes I was one of 12 finalists selected for the 2017 prize. I heard about it from a facebook posting from another artist. I was intrigued, it sounded interesting, the finalists would get to travel to Luxembourg, all expenses paid, to be in a group show at a gallery, and a panel of judges would pick one artist for the large cash prize. It was an international competition so I didn't really think that I had a chance and  I debated about whether it was worth the time, effort, and application fee. But in the end I said to myself I may not have much of a chance but if I don't submit an application I will have ZERO chance. So of course I was in a state of disbelief when I found out I was chosen as one of the finalists. In fact I was taken by surprise because once I finished the application I more or less just put it out of my mind and forgot what the announcement date was. My first notification was by text message, and I thought ,is this for real? I didn't believe it till I saw it on the website the following day. Naturally I was thrilled but was still in a state of disbelief for awhile. It ended up being a great experience, I got to travel with my husband to charming Luxembourg city, and meet interesting and cool artists from all over the globe. I very much enjoyed meeting the gallery owner Herve Lancelin and spending time with all the other artists while we were in Luxembourg. So although I didn't win the large cash prize, it was an invaluable experience that I won't soon forget.

Colza Field II 26x34 inches

Colza Field 11, 26 x 34 inches,Oil on Canvas,  Luxembourg Prize painting

What does this mean to New Jersey?   

I was one of two finalists from the United States and I currently live in New Jersey, but other than that I'm not sure. 

Tell us about your time as a scenic artist on major motion pictures?

I became interested in film and video towards the end of art school and did an independent study in video, working at the local television station. It was the early days of M-TV and music videos were taking off, I decided that film/television was a creative field that I could actually get a job in to support myself as an artist. Once I started working in New York I saw very quickly that I needed to be in a union, because all the network tv shows and big feature films used only union crews.  I took classes on the weekend in scenic painting, because my schooling was in  fine arts.  This prepared me for the union exam, which was a rigorous process involving a month long take home, test to do four large paintings, and then an 8 hour practical test where the judges watched, as you executed on the spot the painting and drawing exercises that were given. I was fortunate and got in on my first try, and was one of only six artists admitted that year to United Scenic Artists Local 829.

Working as a scenic artist was a perfect job for me, I had health insurance and other benefits, but the work was freelance so I had time off between jobs to work on my own painting. I worked for 17 years mostly on feature films and network tv. The work was very wide ranging and I learned to work with all different kinds of materials and techniques. I liked the big scale that we usually had to work on, and we could make anything look like the real thing. I painted lots of faux marble and woodgrain, and made things look rusted and old, anything the set designer wanted. One of the most memorable sets I worked on was for a Woody Allen movie called “Shadows and Fog” where we created an old European town, on a stage, complete with real cobblestone streets, and multiple story buildings. The people I worked with were great, I even occasionally got to meet some of the stars, which added to the experience.

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 Studio View, 42 x 32, Oil on Linen

How has this former work influenced your current work practice?

I think primarily it has made me a more facile painter. I can work with any kind of paint or sculpting material on any scale. I had to be able to do precision work like painting lettering on a sign, and then also be able to paint very broad, loose, and fast  to say “age” the whole side of a building. So being forced to paint in all different kinds of ways gave me the experience and confidence to be able to paint however I choose. A lot of the scenic work involved creating believable textures, and I think this did influence my work in the 1990's where I used lots of textures and materials and made paintings that verged on relief sculptures.

‘From the Road’ exhibition is a collection of images taking fruition over the past 10 -14 years discuss the unfolding of this exhibition. 

Essentially, I worked with the curator and we just picked work that spanned from the (then) present going back ten years or so to the beginning of my “road series” paintings. 

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Eolienne 1, 18 x 24, Oil on Canvas

Discuss the ‘blur’ aspect of this work.

The paintings are all essentially landscapes from the vantage point of a moving car or train. The blur of the foreground is what gives them a palpable sense of motion. But beyond that it is an interesting formal property to explore, the blur abstracts parts of the painting and gives me a new visual texture to work with. I also feel that it symbolizes the fluidity of the present, while the distance is what lies ahead in the future, or is left behind in the past. It makes a landscape painting fresh for me and I continue to use it today.

J.Krause_Chapeau_Eolienne II_oil on canvas_2017_14x18_1,200

Eolienne 11, 14 x 11, Oil on Canvas

Your comment, ‘I think the solitude of driving alone for long periods allows your mind to really wander.’ Discuss both the comment in relation to this collection of works.

I started to make the road series of paintings during a time when I was driving back and forth between Nashville, Tennessee and Hoboken, New Jersey.

Gold Coast, Hoboken

The Gold Coast, Hoboken, 32 x 72 inches, oil, acrylic and sand on canvas, mounted on wood.

This was a 16 hour drive so I had lots of time to think and look out the window. By myself, I would have lots of good music to listen to and a camera at hand. I found it to be very meditative especially when I was in the country with hardly any traffic. You are cruising along at highway speed so you have to keep focused on the road but your mind is still free to wonder, and the landscape just rolls by like a movie. 

After the Rain 30x40 in.

After the Rain, 30 x 40 inches, Oil on Linen

Your works emphasis the relationship of landscape and weather.

I am primarily inspired by qualities of light, and color, and those are of course  a product of the weather. I am partial to fog, I love the way it minimalizes the landscape, making parts disappear off into nothingness. And of course cloudy skies create an endless array of colors and moods, from glorious to ominous, that I just can't resist painting. 

05_Chapeau_Hibernal Rays_2017

Hibernal Rays 36 x 42 inches, Oil on Linen

Your water colours are all small, 7 x 10 inches, discuss.

Yes the water colors tend to be small because I use them mostly when I am traveling and painting outside. So they are easy to transport and I can finish a small watercolor in a couple of hours.

What is the base of your sketch book drawings, watercolour and or photographs?

I use my photographs as sketches for my moving landscapes, that I then paint back in the studio. I shoot spontaneously as I am traveling, not knowing what I will see as the road unfolds. I am interested primarily in the juxtaposition of the man-made and the natural world.

I do keep a sketch book, but it is mostly to keep a record of the paintings I am working on, each one has a page or so where I make sketches and keep any notes I have about them. It also helps me remember when I started and finished a painting, because I always have a few going at the same time.

You also use pastel on paper expand on when and why you choose a particular medium. 

I use pastels sometimes to do fast sketches from life, like.  I use the watercolor. I also sometimes use them to do large preliminary drawings for paintings when I need to work out a composition or some other element that I'm not sure of before I start on the canvas.

Field and Fog 40x46 in.

Field and Fog, 40 x 46, Oil on Linen

Can you explain your personal thoughts on the importance of the artist in recording time and place.

We all respond in one way or another to the times we live in. I think an artist can respond in many ways to contemporary culture, without necessarily documenting it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nuclear and Colza Plants, 26 x 36 inches, Oil on Linen

I personally do like to record my experience and what I have seen in a particular time and place, I like to reflect back something of my personal experience of contemporary life for people now and hopefully in the future to ponder. I do think it is one of the important things artists have done and should continue to do, but art is deeply personal and can provoke thought about many things in many ways and there is room for it all.

Contact details:

Jennifer Krause Chapeau

www.jkrausechapeau.com

jkrausechapeau@aol.com

Jennifer Krause Chapeau, New Jersey, USA 

Interview by Deborah Blakeley, July 2018


Eleanor Lakelin

What lead you to work with wood?

I grew up in a very rural part of Wales surrounded by hills. Roaming through woods collecting natural things, particularly gnarled wood coloured and textured by time and the elements, was a big part of my childhood.  After teaching in various countries in Europe and Africa, I retrained as a furniture-maker between 1995 and 1998. I then worked for many years making theatre sets and designing and making furniture.  In 2011 I changed my practice to concentrate on creating sculptural vessels and objects in wood – work informed by those early experiences looking at natural processes and landscape.Ester Segarra

Ferrous Shift, detail, Photo Ester Segarra

You use trees felled in the British Isles – How do you become aware of trees that are either coming down or are down?

Locally, tree surgeons phone me or drop trees off but now that I mainly sell through galleries and tend to create pieces in a series, I have certain trees that I look for. I buy a lot of wood from a village sawmill next to a large country house estate which means a selection of large parkland trees that have had to be felled. I also spend a lot of time emailing forestry and arboreal companies to find particular burred wood I like to work with. 

3.Eleanor_Lakelin_Citadel_Group_by_Jeremy_Johns

Void Vessels, Photo Jeremy Johns

Can you tell us about the work that went to British House Rio?

I was asked to make a collection of pieces that would be displayed at British House - the place to celebrate Team GB’s sporting performance and a cultural showcase for the best of the UK at Rio 2016. During the Olympics, British House was located in the centre of Rio de Janeiro at historic Parque Lage, adjacent to the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue and within the Copacabana cluster of the Games. Other artworks on show include a dramatic paper chandelier by Zoe Bradley as well as pieces by Theresa Nguyen, Insley and Nash and Alexandra Llewellyn.

7.Eleanor_Lakelin_Rio-Olympics_by_Jeremy_Johns

Rio Olympics, Photo Jeremy Johns

I had recently started working with Sequoia, grown in Britain after the seeds were brought back from California in the 1850’s and recently felled due to decay. It seemed fitting to reimagine and recreate this material into pieces that would be returned across the Atlantic 160 years after the seeds arrived, reflecting something of the global nature of the event. The collection of eight vessels, linked by material but using different forms and texture, returned to Britain after the Olympics and were sold to collectors.

8.Eleanor_Lakelin_Rio_Olympics_2_by_Jeremy_Johns

Rio Olympics, Photo Jeremy Johns

For your project with the National Trust -Discuss the Great Cedar tree and its historical importance.

I’m always fascinated by the provenance of my materials and how this shapes my process and work. In the summer of 2014, a great cedar tree planted by the Duke of Wellington in 1827 had to be felled at the National Trust property Kingston Lacy. I was asked to create a collection of vessels from this beautiful, historical tree, to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo in June 2015.

Where are the three pieces that were added to the National Trust Collection?

An open bowl form and two hollow carved forms were purchased to be displayed at Kingston Lacey, the National Trust Property where the tree was planted. The works are showcased as part of a collection in the Spanish room of the house, as apparently it was during his time in Spain that the once Lord of the Manor, William Bankes, collected Art and cemented his friendship with the Duke of Wellington.

6.Eleanor_Lakelin_National_Trust_Commission_by_Stephen_Brayne

National Trust Commission, Photo Stephen Brayne

How many pieces were you able to make from this one tree? I made between eight and ten pieces including a very large piece called the Wellington Bowl which was part of an exhibition called ‘Bowls of Britain’ in 2015.

What drying process had to take place before you could commence? 

The tree had already been felled some time before but was still relatively green. I turned the pieces quite thin so that they would dry quickly as by the time the project was agreed and organised, there was very little time before the Bicentenary celebrations in June 2015.

What happened to the other pieces you made?

All of the vessels were sold. The smaller pieces were made available to purchase from the National Trust with proceeds helping to fund conservation works at Kingston Lacy.

Discuss your personal thoughts on history being kept in a contemporary art form?

It is not unusual for contemporary art to look to the past for ideas, inspiration or designs whether they be used to agitate for change, to look at differences or ways forward in the present. Much of what I do is about material and stories – visualising an idea in a form. This was an interesting material and a great story.

Expand on how and where you keep your wood?

Ester Segarra

Ferrous Shift, Photo Ester Segarra


I keep wood everywhere – in sheds behind my studio, in the car park, in my workshop, in storage, behind the saw, on the shelves, in my garden, in my basement, in my garden shed, wrapped in cotton, wrapped in plastic, under tarps, under beds – it’s an obsession . . there is no end . . . 

What is one special tool that you love working with and why is it so valued by you?

It is almost impossible to choose one tool but I suppose my lathe is the most central tool to my work at the moment. I spend ages carving off the lathe and sandblasting or scorching wood but the lathe is where I start with hollow sculptural vessels. For most pieces I use a Vicmarc lathe, manufactured in Queensland, Australia – it is very old, very heavy with no frills but reliably does what is needed.

Cockpit Arts - Alun Callender Photography

Eleanor Larkelin, Photo Alun Callend, Courtsey of Cockpit Arts

What information do you provide with each piece?

My work is mainly sold through galleries but if people are interested I provide them with information about the provenance of the material, its age and properties, techniques used and the inspiration behind the pieces. 4.Eleanor_Lakelin_Voided_Vessels_by_Jeremy_Johns

Void Vessels, Photo Jeremy Johns

Your comment, “I’m fascinated by wood as a living, breathing substance with its own history.” 

I’m particularly inspired by the organic mayhem and creative possibilities of burred wood, which I work with exclusively for the ‘Contours of Nature’ series. This proliferation of cells, formed over decades or even centuries as a reaction to stress or as a healing mechanism is a rare, mysterious and beautiful act of nature. The twisted configuration of the grain and the frequent bark inclusions and voids are challenging to work and the forms difficult to hollow but the removal of the bark reveals a secret landscape, unseen by anyone before.Wood grows at a different density during different times of the year. In the Time & Texture series I sandblast across the surface to create a kind of speeded-up erosion. Time itself feels etched into the fibres of the material. By carving to different depths within the piece and then sandblasting through another layer, a moving, sinuous pattern is created which speaks of natural movement – of wind, sand, rhythm, flow and of time.

Expand on your work in relations to large installations?

I’ve been exploring working at a larger scale and I was thrilled that my Time & Texture Installation at Forde Abbey recieved a Wood Award, within the ‘Bespoke' category. The works formed part of ‘A Landscape of Objects’, a site-specific exhibition set in the gardens of Forde Abbey, curated by Flow Gallery. The brief was to reference both the shapes, colours and texture of the gardens and buildings and the importance of water on the site.The installation was formed of three hollowed vessels on rusted plinths and four solid forms designed to show how natural elements erode and work away at materials. Through building up layers of texture through carving and sandblasting away the softer wood, it is possible to show how natural elements and processes layer and colour wood. The sequoia and sycamore vessels were turned on a lathe and hollowed out through a small hole. The four solid pieces are sculpted from English oak and cedar and the spherical form was chosen to reflect the natural shapes in the garden and in the landscape.I’m keen to explore Installation ideas further and have an invitation to visit sculptor Mark Lindquist’s studios in Florida to explore a new body of larger scale works.

Explain on your pieces ‘Basaltes Vessels’ and the rock formation you based this work on.

5.Eleanor_Lakelin_Basaltes_Vessel_Group_by_Jeremy_Johns

Basaltes, Vessels, Photo Jeremy Johns

Also part of the ‘Time & Texture’ series - these new, elongated forms are turned and carved in a freer way using an angle grinder and chainsaw wheel. A natural ‘slate grey’ tone is drawn from the wood using an iron solution (iron being a property of Basalt) or the wood is ‘pickled’ white.Basalt is a fine-grained, igneous rock which makes up a significant part of the oceanic crust. The distinctive columnar topology or ‘fractures’ are created during the cooling of a thick lava flow - forming a ‘random cellular network’. Basalts weather and erode relatively fast compared to other rocks and the typically iron-rich minerals can oxidise rapidly in water and air.The pieces were created not necessarily to look like basalt but to give a sense of the erosive power of natural elements as they texture, colour and break down material over time.

Contact details:

Eleanor Lakelin
eleanor@eleanorlakelin.com07944 811675Studio 011
Cockpit Arts
18-22 Creekside
London
Eleanor Lakelin, London, UK

 

Interview by Deborah Blakeley, June 2018


Helena McConochie

What has your painting taught you - have you developed new techniques?

I don't believe my style has changed as such, I am amazed at how much more detail I see in a flower now.  This might be a combination of consistent painting and generally growing; which goes hand in hand with this amount of work I do. I have developed a stronger interest in light and shadow not wanting to over work the flower.

canberra poppies

Canberra Poppies

I paint almost every day. My work hours are 10-4.30 seven days a week…

I continue to give my paintings female names as I came from a family of girls and had four daughters.

Patricia and Millie

Patricia and Millie

Are you seeing flowers in a different way?

Absolutely – the detail of a flower intrigues me.

Margaret Olley proclaimed, "Flowers can be appreciated by the viewer as just a flower
or can be explored deeper almost as a Landscape"

I am obsessed by my love of flowers and colour. My limited palette system consisting of white and three prime colours that I to mix to natural hues, shades and tones. I create light, shade and dimension in colours that appear remarkably real. I place waterdrops on my paintings as an encouragement to people to conserve water.

Katrina for Melbourne

Katrina for Melbourne 

Expand on the relationship/s you have built up with your galleries. 

My Galleries are all amazing. They are so supportive of my art and I am continually getting work.

I am represented by Art 2 Muse, Double Bay where I have an annual Solo exhibition – this year’s Exhibition is from 2nd - 15th October 2018.

I am represented by Aarwun Gallery Canberra. Riley Gallery in Manhattan Beach and McsartofLiving in Montreal and Memphis.

I have another Exhibition in Colorado this year – the 100th Anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, June 22nd – July 13th 2018.  The theme of the show is based around avian and botanical related imagery in a celebration of this year being the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a piece of legislation that protects countless aviary species each year. With this special commemoration, The National Audubon Society has teamed up with National Geographic, Birdlife International, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, to make 2018, “The Year of the Bird”.  Our aim is to acknowledge this observance with an exhibition of contemporary works focusing on birds, the flora and fauna found in their natural habitats.

What have been two highlights over the past four years.

  • Being approached by three Galleries in the USA
  • Editorial in both Belle Magazine and House and Garden.House and Gardon
  • I also had a small preview in The Wentworth Courier leading up to my Exhibition.
  • Donating Paintings in the new Dubbo Base Hospital Maternity Ward- not all women receive flowers and not all results in the Maternity ward are great.Hospital Donation Maternity Ward Dubbo Base Hospital Maternity Ward
  • Starting my Soft Furnishing Line.

What have you learnt not to do?   

I have learnt to say NO. I have been extremely busy since our last interview with exhibitions and commissions. Buyers certainly know what they want, I am such a worrier if it’s not exactly what they ask of me.  I use a Limited Palette – which means I mix all my own colours. It is impossible to get exact.

Some of 2017 Paintings

A Collection of 2017 paintings

Why does your art still give you such great daily joy?

The great daily joy for me is at the end of the day relaxing and critiquing my achievement. I set my painting in the family room, with a glass of champagne and enjoy what I have achieved for the day. My family help me critique it and that is such fun- particularly the Grandchildren who are sooo honest.

If you have enjoyed reading this update please re read the interview Zoneone Arts had with Helena McConchie in March 2014.  It is so interesting to see the development of Helena's work and how she now has solid representation in Australia and the USA.

Katrina - Shayne

Katrina and Shayne

Contact details:

Website: http://helenam.com/art.html

Email: ‘helenamay@bigpond.com’

Helena McConochie, Dubbo, NSW. Australia

Interview by Deborah Blakeley, June 2018

Logo

March 2014

You have been a mature aged student. Can you expand on how you came to take up painting after your children left home for University?

I was a mother of four daughters which left me absolutely no spare time until they left for University. I was a statistic of “empty nest syndrome” I soon realized that my children had to fly and explore the world and I had to develop some interests of my own. I was very fortunate to have a connection and love of beautiful flowers and art..

I started art lessons with a local artist I soon realised that I wanted to learn a lot more so I enrolled in a Fine Arts Course. This was a whole new world opening up to me. Painting Drawing, Art History, and Photoshop. I was completely absorbed in the course and achieved Distinctions at Diploma Level.

You have always been interested in design. How has this influenced your work?

In the past designing to me consisted of guttering a whole house, rebuilding it, painting and decorating it. I have done this seven times. The excitement I feel when the paint is applied to the walls and the house is transformed into a beautiful masterpiece.

Transforming these old wrecks of houses back to a beautiful, liveable home came very naturally to me.

The work was extremely hard and I can compare the creative side to my canvas, preparing the canvas, drawing and then applying the paint.

When or how did you decide to crop the floral image?

It was not deliberate decision to crop my flowers. I would use my viewing frame and rotate the flower until I achieved the image I wanted. Also with my photographic skills I have been able to take macro shots while the flowers are in season. Georgia O’Keeffe was very fortunate that her partner Albert Stieglitz, was a photographer and took macro shots of her flowers. Georgia was also influenced by Paul Strands cropping method.

How large are your works?

My works vary in size. I try to vary the sizes to accommodate galleries and homes but the largest painting I have done is a Tryptich of Poppies which are 110 x 110 but placed together 330 x 110 cm

Your recent solo exhibition was close to a sell-out. Can you explain how this has propelled your art?

MI have actually had three exhibitions in six months. I spent twelve months completing a body of work that consisted of approximately 14 paintings and proceeded to go on a roadshow with my art. Whenever I had a sale, the art had to be replaced for the next exhibition. Whist it was exhausting the feedback has been amazing.

You are a gardener. How do you prepare for a work, by photographing the flower or painting from life?

Both, my problem is that my flowers are seasonal and not available when I need them . I do like to take macro shots of the flowers and seeing them up close. This is not always the result I want. I do have silk flowers and take photos of them and from memory place the veins and marks on the flowers.

I have a huge collection of photographed flowers. The anticipation of spring and painting a flower that has just opened is certainly the better way for me to paint.

Discuss nature and her amazing palette in relationship to your work?

Flowers bloom in almost every colour of the spectrum and appeal not only to the visual sense, but to the olfactory too. The fine texture and lines of a flower can easily be obtained by careful brushstrokes forming the shape, modelling them, introducing the colour and creating transparency in the flower. One of my favourite artists, Georgia O’Keeffe, her abstract pieces demonstrate beautiful work of rhythm, movement, colour, depth and form and that is what I am trying I am bringing into my work.

You take commissions. How flexible are you with these?

I don’t have any problems with commissions, I do set a deadline to have them finished so the customer is not waiting. .I am fortunate that I can get the painting very close to the original painting and quiet often it is better than the last. I send an image off to the client or arrange for them to be viewed.

Does living in rural Australia affect your work?

Not at all. We have an apartment in Sydney that we stay in regularly. We are an hours flight to Sydney. A lot of artists are living in rural areas as is Tim Storrier who lived in Bathurst and now Bowral.

Can you expand on the influence Tim Maguire has had on your work?

Growing up I have always been surrounded by amazing gardens. The families favourite flower is a Poppy which was grown every year. When I was introduced to Tim Maguire’s poppies I was amazed. I studied Tim Maguire and Georgia O’Keeffe in my Fine Arts Course.

I am extremely impressed with the scale of Tim Maguire’s flowers and it has encouraged me to get out of my own comfort zone.

Tim’s poppies are quite loose where mine are tight, I also place water drops on my flowers and when people tell me how lovely they are I let them know there is actually a strong message behind them. The message is that water is the essence of life and we should all be looking after it (we are in a drought at the moment).

Can you explain your interpretation of the term and your technique of abstraction?

My interpretation of abstraction is a concept which the subject is represented by shapes and patterns and can be slightly unrealistic.

My paintings are a mixture of the above and are slightly cropped and presented in a way that the viewer can still recognise the subject.

How do you fit both gardening and painting into your life?

We have three acres of garden and over the years I have designed my garden to have very little maintenance. I mostly have large trees, flowering trees, a rose garden and an awful lot of lawn. We have a sprinkler system and a lawn contractor. Before spring arrives I mulch the entire garden to lower maintenance and encourage growth.

Flowers give so many, so much joy. Is that a major inspiration for your work?

Absolutely, you should witness me after a long cold winter and then spring has sprung. I am like a child in a lolly shop. The excitement of watching the deciduous trees get new leaves, poppies ready to bloom and not knowing what colour you will be presented with. Looking out my window I can see the Red Canna Lilly flowering next to my White Crepe Myrtle tree. My stayed in a villa in Tuscany and was amazing with red and white flowers all through it. I came home with some great ideas.

Where to now?

I am presently working on 3 paintings for the Archibald , Wynn and Sulman Prize. I have entered before with 600 other hopefuls, and it is a great experience. I will enter in the Paddington Art Prize and The Mount Eyre Art Prize. I intend to exhibition in Melbourne and when I visit New York City this coming April I will endeavour to research exhibitions in Hampton.

Contact details:

Website: http://helenam.com/art.html

Email: ‘helenamay@bigpond.com’

Helena McConochie, Dubbo, NSW. Australia

Interview by Deborah Blakeley, March 2014


Anita Laurence

Explain how your career in art and printmaking began?

I studied Fine Art Painting at Prahran College and when I met my husband printmaker Bill Young I had access and encouragement to make prints. Prints were easy for me to make while I was raising a family, I could work at the kitchen table. Unlike painting which for me was all consuming, making prints fitted in to the routine. Bill and I work together, we share a studio with space for my painting and for the three now four presses. I did not always have a studio. I like to remind people of this especially artists starting out. I made art where and when I could. Bill operates a custom printmaking workshop, so I have always had access to a press. I was once given the book Significant Others and I feel Bill and I fit that title – we work together, supporting each other in what we do. Over the years I have helped in many ways from paper prep to wiping plates. Bill does the majority of my editioning the exception being my reduction prints which I print myself. Bill also makes my frames from reclaimed timbers some from local trees and more recently from Kauri Pine floor boards .

Laurence Anita Our Place 2012 56 x76 cm etching

Our Place, 56 x 76 cm, Etching

You live in country Victoria, Australia how does the environment effect your work?

I paint and make prints about my locality, it is my inspiration. I live in the very beautiful King Valley in North East Victoria. The landscape is ever changing with the time of day and the seasons. I have lived here for 30 years and I am still inspired by my surrounds – each season is different, and the colours inform my artwork.

On the Edge of Town, 68 x 99 cm, Acrylic and Ink on Blue Lake cotton paper

Discuss your visit to Ireland and one or two works that came from your visit plus the difference from Australia?

Ireland was my first experience of visiting another country. In 2008 Bill and I went to stay with friends and family in Cork and spent time at the Cork Printmakers. As with most people the experience of travel and another country is inspiring and eye opening.
The linocut 'Corcaigh', the Irish name for Cork City, was made later when I was artist in residence at The Art Vault in Mildura. It was quite incongruous to be in hot Mildura and creating images of wintry Cork City. Like most of my images they are stylised and representative, based on memories and my feeling for a place. I will make sketches and take photos but I prefer to let my imagination inform the image making.
My King Valley images are stylised layered landscapes – with iconic trees and buildings, rivers in the foreground and hills and mountains in the background. My visit to Cork City had me thinking about how best to represent a city, it's my memory of walking the steep and winding streets, lanes and alleys from where I was staying in Turner's Cross.

Corcaigh 2009 linocut 56x42cm

Corcaigh (2009) 56 x 42 cm, linocut

Expand on the importance of having your early prints, printed by Port Jackson Press?

 In 1985 David Rankin, owner of Port Jackson Press was working with Bill in the Middle Park studio when he noticed the relief etching cards I was making, he was taken by them and invited me to produce some limited edition prints. Having an outlet for my work, meant that I was productive in my art practise while raising a young family, an important esteem building time for me.  Through PJP and then Chrysalis Publishing my work was distribute to galleries all over Australia, exposing my work to a greater audience and being purchased for the collections of The Parliament House Art Collection, Canberra; National Australia Bank and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre collections to name a few.  I had this outlet till about 1998.

Under a Blue Sky, 60 x 80cm, linocut

Country art galleries have supported your work.  Discuss the importance of country and regional galleries to both the artist and residents?

Country and regional galleries offer opportunities for local artists to get involved exhibit their work. I have been represented by The Muse Gallery of Milawa since 2004 till 2016 when it closed and The Art Vault in Mildura since 2009. A new gallery Off Centre Gallery + Studio opened in Milawa which means my artwork is still represented in the region. The Muse Gallery and now Off Centre showcase local contemporary art giving the community an opportunity to see and support their local artists. The gallery is situated in a tourist hub giving visitors an enriching experience of seeing artworks they might not see in the cities, artworks relevant to the region.

Where the Rivers Meet, 56 x 76 cm, linocut

It's an honour to exhibit my work in my community. Not only am I supported by the gallery I am supported by the people of the region who come and purchase my artworks for themselves and as gifts to send further a field. I love it when people comment that my artworks makes them see their landscape afresh, seeing things in it they hadn’t noticed before. Or that they recognise my buildings or trees in the landscape, and that those trees do really exist! I think a lot of local people feel a sense of pride in seeing their region and home in my work.

Regional and country galleries showcase that the arts are alive and well away from the city centres.

I live in a community that values its artists and the role they play in the enriching the community. I have been involved the King Valley Art Show for nearly 20 years and the growth and appreciation of this show from the local businesses and the community is quite astounding. Each year we have been able to offer 17 awards to the value of $17,000 and though it might not sound like a big amount in some circles it is a token of how the arts are valued.

Often country galleries give the viewer a chance to see work that isn’t shown in the city. I love that these galleries make art accessible to all. I have found this especially so at The Art Vault where anyone who walks in is treated with respect and encouraged to enjoy what is on offer. A place that is inclusive and tries to demystify and educate about the process of printmaking.

I exhibit at other Victorian country galleries, Lauriston Press in Kyneton, Queenscliff Gallery and Workshop and Cascade Art in Maldon.

Wangajazzaratta Linocut 52x42cm

Wangajazzaratta, 52 x 42 cm, Linocut

Wangaratta Art Gallery is my nearest regional gallery (which is a public gallery) and over the years has offered me opportunities to be part of themed group exhibitions- and was instrumental in putting me in contact with other artists thus enabling me to become part of arts groups in my region.
When I travel around the country the first place check out is it's regional gallery, and I love it when they are exhibiting work of locals and of the locality. 

Discuss your work ‘Our Town’ linocut in relation to your printing technique?

Our Town Linocut 76x56cm

Our Town, 76 x 56 cm, Linocut

Having made paintings and prints about my rural landscape and the cityscapes of places I'd visited as Artist in Residence, lead me back to Wangaratta my own rural city. In 2014 I was invited by Wangaratta Art Gallery to make an artwork to celebrate the 25th Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival.  I realised that it’s easy to be in awe of a new city or landscape and that I should look with fresh eyes at a place I was so familiar with and perhaps took for granted. Wangaratta had lost a lot of its historical buildings to 'progress', and was not as aesthetically beautiful as near by historic Beechworth. When I took the time to look I found the old buildings in amongst the new and that there were many iconic buildings still standing strong within the town. I took the time to investigate the town’s history much like I did in Mildura when on residency. ‘Our Town’ and ‘Wangajazzaratta’ were the result. I have gone on to make more prints about Wangaratta. 'Under a Blue Sky' and 'Where the Rivers Meet' are two such linocuts. 

Expand on the use of colour or limited colour in your printmaking?

My linocuts of recent years have been mainly black and white, I like the contrast and strength of the black and white. It is also very immediate for me,  I have made multi block and reduction prints in the past which I loved making but find I am impatient and have been happy to work in black and white. My paintings are very colourful and compensate for lack of colour in my linocuts, saying that I have made some reduction linocuts, more recently, these colour prints are more personal and private and tend to stay in the drawers. I was inspired by the Japanese printmaker Hokusai to add colour back into my skies. Powlett River a very limited edition multi block print I made in 1996 is still one of my favourite works it is full of rolled blended colours,  looking at it now it’s sky was probably inspired by Japanese prints.

Powlett River, 38 x 128 cm Triptich, Multi-Block, colour, Linocut

Your ‘Millewa Series’ discuss the two different mediums you have use together in this one exhibition.


The Millewa series was made after one of my residencies at The Art Vault in Mildura. I was invited to visit a wheat farm 70 km south of Mildura – driving through the landscape past majestic wheat silos standing tall against the sky, I was intrigued by  the arid natural beauty of the landscape, with Mallee trees and vast red soil. I wondered how a wheat crop could grow. From shared stories I began to get a feel of the place and I tried to envisage a way to show the landscape which was so different from the lush green rolling hills and valleys of where I lived in. The black and white prints are about shape and pattern in the landscape- the farmer in a tractor that has driven over every inch of the land for fifty years in all seasons, it was an insight to their special bond to the land. I also created paintings of the landscape enjoying the use of rich reds, oranges and pinks and sage green/grey of the landscape and the expanse of vivid sky blue.  I paint on a handmade paper and incise lines and scumble paint over the top of a colourful ink base to create a luminous effect.

The Millewa, 56 x 76 cm, Arylic and ink on Blue Lake cotton paper

With your limited editions discuss the numbers you print and your protocol at the end of a print run.

When my prints were published by Port Jackson Press and Chrysalis Publishing the edition size was dictated by the publishing house, most often 60. My self published linocuts are editions of 40 and my etchings 15 or 20. We don’t print the complete edition, we print in batches as required. I’d need another storage space if we did (not to mention a bank loan in paper costs). I don’t follow the protocol of cancelling a plate or block at the end of a print run.  I hate the idea of disfiguring a block or plate that I have spent hours making, it seems a shocking desecration. If an image is popular I would not hesitate to do a second edition and name it as such.

The Valley 1, 20 x 15 cm, Etching Aquatint

Contact details:

Anita Laurence

www.anitalaurence.com.au

anita@anitalaurence.com.au

Anita Laurence,Victoria, Australia

Interview by Deborah Blakeley, June 2018