15 Jan 2021
In 2020 Gaia Sebastiani of Kerry Hill Architects contacted me to discuss the possibility of creating artworks for six lift lobbies within a beautiful apartment building designed by the firm. Gaia arranged for me to meet the owner of the building on site – a site holding a special place in her family history. Her request was that the art compliment (not compete with) the architecture - which on entering exuded a sense of church-like quietude.
Yesterday the artwork was installed and last night I received this very thoughtful text message from the owner.
Thankyou Jane. We feel very privileged to have had you give us your time and wonderful talents to help us finish the building that is so dear to us. The art you have created for us is nothing short of super perfection. Thank you once again from all our family xx
17 May 2020
The coronavirus lockdown has forced many of us to reflect deeply on how we respond to solitude, although today, with constant access to telephone, television, radio and Internet we’re never fully cut off from the rest of the world. Silence has become such a scarce commodity that many people become uneasy without an undercurrent of noise.
John McDonald, Sydney Morning Herald, May 2020
We've split our week between Perth and Cowaramup over several years. With Coronavirus and regional border closures in place, we decided to self isolate in Cowaramup. My partner is able to work remotely, as am I with my casual university and freelance design jobs (albeit with crappy internet access) - but... I did have to forgo my art studio.
Tomorrow the borders officially open and I will go back to Perth. There has been an emotional shift within me - I feel reluctant to go back. This landscape and most importantly the silence here is providing me with new artwork ideas that I've been scribbling down and mentally processing over the past 7 weeks. I've also had time and space to take daily photographs, walk in nature, forage and cook.
Everyone is processing these strange and uncertain times differently - some friends feel anxious and trapped, while others are thankful for this slower pace. The global economic fall-out is undoubtedly catastrophic with millions now unemployed (in the US we've seen over 10 million people apply for unemployment benefits in March alone). My own casual position within a university system that is struggling with the loss of international students, is also under threat.
It's pretty easy to feel pessimistic right now. My wildly optimistic hope is that this global pandemic creates a more resilient and compassionate society, with a renewed outlook towards the preservation of our natural world. We must change, or in the words of a wise friend - 'we are completely f***ed!'.
* news - I will lose my university position June 30th - (casual) Assistant Art Curator, 13 years
15 May 2020
Looking at paintings in a gallery and trying to visualise them in your space is really difficult. Large paintings are fragile and awkward to transfer in a 'try before you buy' scenario - it is much easier to Photoshop an artwork onto your existing wall to help with the visualisation process.
Open-cut, 2019, 140 x 200 cm - seen here in the beautiful living room of White House designed by Robson Rak Architecture www.robsonrak.com.au | photography by Shannon McGrath shannonmcgrath.com
This artwork is currently available. If you think this may be suitable for your home or interior project I am happy to provide you with this service.
Thank you to Kathryn Robson and Shannon McGrath for the use of this image.
09 Dec 2019
In 2018 I was invited by FORM to conduct a drawing workshop in Port Hedland. The timing was perfect - I had already planned an art trip to the Pilbara with Melissa - something that during our (almost 30 year) friendship we’d dreamt of doing, ‘one day’. Waiting at Port Hedland airport for Melissa, I spotted her striding across the tarmac wearing a polka dot shirt and fedora hat. With a roll of drawing paper under her arm she looked like a fish out of water amongst the FIFO commuters. The sight of her struck me with deep emotion - she was here, my art friend, and we were about to head out in a borrowed ute to paint. Melissa is a born painter – a painter’s painter. That is about the highest complement I can give a fellow artist.
Our road trip resulted in independent solo exhibitions in 2018. My show titled Karijini, (Koskela Gallery, Sydney) was curated by Harriet Fez who teamed my works alongside fibre art from the Tjanpi Desert Weavers, a social enterprise of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council. This combination proved to be a rich dialogue about colour and country.
Karijini (Hamersley Range) is the traditional home to the Banyjima, Kurrama and Innawonga people. Nearby lies the ghost town of Wittenoom - a place of significance to my Grandparents and Dad who lived there in 1947, unaware of the health risks this asbestos mining town would later pose. Wittenoom is a declared contaminated site – an environmental disaster of epic proportion. This place continues to impact the health of local people and despite the known dangers it also attracts adventure tourists who are keen to hashtag Wittenoom on their social media feeds.
Through painting, collage, paper mache and found objects I am recording the landscape with an emphasis on my feelings towards the ecological and human impact of mining in WA. There is also a direct correlation between the making of collage and the scissor-like mandibles of termites. Termite mounds appear throughout the series – like ancient sentinels of the landscape.
Jane Tangney 2019
03 Dec 2019
Melissa Boughey and Jane Tangney completed a Bachelor of Fine Art at Curtin University in the early 90’s after abandoning studies in Art Teacher training. They shared a large, ramshackle house in Victoria Park with other art students, a bantam chicken and 3 ducks. Melissa then moved south to Denmark and grew trees, a vineyard and a family. From an idyllic studio, overlooking rejuvenated wetlands, Melissa has continued to develop her painting practice. Jane travelled/worked overseas then returned to Perth where she exhibited and worked in the arts industry. After a stint in Tasmania Jane now shares her time between Fremantle and Cowaramup while juggling art, design and curatorial work at Murdoch University.
Over many years Melissa and Jane have continued their friendship and their dialogue about art making and what constitutes a good life. They have been each other’s sounding board, confidante and support. Importantly, and pervading all else, they have both maintained a serious commitment to their arts practice and have each been selected as finalists in a number of nationally significantly art awards, including the Glover, Hadley, Fleurieu, and Lloyd Rees Art Prize.
With notions of landscape painting, identity and the human condition permeating their oeuvre, a journey to the Pilbara together in 2018 proved to be an incredibly stimulating experience, with both artists exhibiting in 2018 - Melissa in Denmark and Melbourne, and Jane in Sydney.
Painter to Painter – A Conversation Between Friends marks the first occasion they have exhibited together. With rigour and humility they continue to record the Western Australian landscape through personal experience, history and metaphor. Their conversation remains ongoing...
13 Aug 2019
(left) Collage prep - painted papers drying | (right) field sketch - Pilbara, 2018
23 Nov 2018
Gnullar Mia Silent Auction
100% of proceeds going towards suicide prevention programs in Perth. Over 80 artists were supplied with the same sized panel - should be some diverse offerings!
(image left) Crocidolite Country, Wittenoom | oil and beeswax on linen | 30 x 18 cm
(image right) Asbestos Tailings (dumped environmental waste) - Wittenoom, Western Australia
Curated by Leonie Ngahuia Mansbridge - 23rd November 6pm, Nyisztor Studio
22 Oct 2018
I am excited and very honoured to be included in this beautiful new book titled, 'A Painted Landscape' by writer/curator Amber Creswell Bell & Published by Thames and Hudson.
Just as Dorothea Mackellar’s words have a knack for swelling the metaphorical chest of many Australians with the evocative descriptions in her iconic encomium ‘My Country’, this book forms an aesthetic study of the Australian landscape as seen, experienced and expressed by the Australian artists who choose to paint it, and the connection to place that the artists have with particular geographical locations today. We have a rich legacy of legendary landscape painters in Australia, and this book is a curated collection of fifty artists working today, who are creating a rich and exciting vision of Australia’s remarkable landscapes. This is Australia in the 21st century through a specifically creative lens. Artistic styles, visual language and motivations are as broad as this sprawling country; and the visions they paint are refracted through very different imaginations. Together these fifty artists paint a vivid image of the incredible diversity of landscapes that make up this vast continent.
23 Jul 2018
Opening Saturday 28th July 10-12 noon at Koskela with the wonderful Tjanpi Desert Weavers.
Q&A with Jane Tangney
Jane Tangney’s Karijini exhibition opened in the Koskela Gallery on Saturday, 28th July, and had almost sold out within hours. Customers who got their hands on an advanced copy of the catalogue purchased artworks over the phone or online without seeing them in person. It was the fastest selling show Koskela has ever had.
Her heavy impasto paintings and works on paper appealed equally. It seemed everyone wanted to get their hands on a piece of Jane’s stunning and, at times, haunting interpretation of the Karijini National Park and and ghost town of Wittenoom in Western Australia.
We chatted to the softly spoken artist to find out more about her art practice and the personal significance of the Karijini show.
...see link for full interview
14 May 2018
I am interested in notions of identity and connectivity to place.
Karijini National Park is the traditional home of the Banyjima, Kurrama and Innawonga peoples. The Banyjima name for the Hamersley Range is Karijini. I have just been to this beautiful part of WA to create some drawings and to gather inspiration for an upcoming exhibition in August 2018, Sydney, NSW. Karijini is close to the old ghost town of Wittenoom - once the biggest town in the Pilbara. I have a connection to this place through my family who moved there in 1947 when the mine was newly established. Pop died from Wittenoom’s blue asbestos dust when I was a baby. Nan was a nurse/midwife in Wittenoom and various northwest towns - eventually settling in Broome. I remember her being interested in gardening and bush medicine - insect bites and sores were always treated with her concoctions. This probably came about through friendships formed with Aboriginal women over the years - some of whom I recall visiting on road trips to and from Broome as a child in the 1970’s.
“At the age of about six, I remember staying with Flo and Frank who lived somewhere near Point Samson in a rusty corrugated iron shack. It was pretty rough when I think about it. They were generous people and meant something to my Dad as a young boy in Wittenoom - their son was his friend. I remember they camped outside with Dad, giving up their own bed for Mum, my sister and I.”
14 May 2018
On my trip to Port Hedland I popped into the wonderful Spinifex Hill Studio. I was excited to meet the amazing Nyaparu (William) Gardiner and to check out a recent drawing/painting on paper that was about 3m long! (detail left). Winnie Sampi (right) was a delight too. She overheard me mentioning to another artist, my family connection to Wittenoom and when I got close to her table, she said, 'I was born in Wittenoom you know'. This sparked a lovely conversation about her memories there as a child, including riding on top of the mail truck from Roebourne to Wittenoom for the school holidays and then running straight to the bakery on arrival. The Italian immigrants made great bread apparently! I showed her a photograph I had in my phone of my Dad as a toddler standing on an old veranda in Wittenoom. She laughed at how cute Dad looked in the photo. I learned that Winnie and Dad were both born in the same year prompting me to wonder whether their childhood paths ever crossed.
This is a highly productive studio run by very dedicated people, Greg Taylor (Studio Manager) and Nicole Leuchter (Studio Co-ordinator). It is open to the public and there are literally 100's of paintings in the stockroom.
14 May 2018
A big thank you to FORM and the Port Hedland Courthouse Gallery for inviting me up to the stunning Pilbara to run a journal drawing workshop. I was run off my feet and completely forgot to take some photos!
A sketchbook is a place where I can try things out and fail, a place where I can scribble out an idea or delicately play with colour. Without it I'd find the blank canvas very daunting.
27 Mar 2018
The new Westin Hotel, Perth has recently acquired a few paintings including this diptych titled Bremer Bay. The hotel is producing a book of the artworks and required a portrait (yikes!). Photos by the lovely Bo Wong. bowong.com.au
About: BGC Development has partnered with Marriott to bring the five star, luxury, Westin brand to Perth for the first time. Situated within the Hibernian Place precinct, the development includes returning Perth's heritage listed Hibernian Hall to its former glory as the hotels signature restaurant Garum. Opening April 2018.
23 Mar 2018
Combining my love of art and design, Natalie Walton of Imprint House is launching her beautiful book today titled, 'This is Home'. The book features homes from around the world that embrace timeless, pared back living with warmth and authenticity. Accompanying the launch is an exhibition of artworks on the theme of 'Home' including my large work on paper titled, 'Pool of Memories' - Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park TAS. 185 x 145 cm (SOLD). Some of the other 25 artists include, Camie Lyons, Belynda Henry, Emily Besser, Michele Morcos, Tracey Deep, Antonia Mrljak, Evi Oetemo and Monique Lovering. A silent auction of sculptured house forms by Sally Anderson, Louise Olsen, Basic Curate, Casey Arnold to name just a few are also being exhibited. Proceeds will go to women's community shelters.
Pool of Memories, 2018 Artist Statement
In 1835, Surveyor-General George Frankland mounted an expedition into the central highlands of Tasmania. Captivated by the ethereal beauty of the alpine landscape – he proceeded to name numerous geographical features, honouring ancient Greek mythology.
The small lake, Pool of Memories was named in honour of Mnemosyne, the Goddess of memory. Beyond her looms Mount Geryon, the three headed grandson of Medusa. As fitting as these names may seem, this place was home to the Larmairremener people - Big River Tribe. The names and mythology surrounding this place for the original custodians is mostly lost. This painting is a reminder to tread carefully on this ancient landscape we all call home.
16 Nov 2017
Conceived by artist Lara Chapman and curated by Amber Creswell Bell, this art exhibition has the bold aim of raising awareness (and funds) for a little known rare group of blood cancers called 'Myeloproliferative Neoplasms' (MPNs). Lara lives with Polycythaemia Vera - one of the MPNs. Her goal is to raise funds to contribute toward a research project - there is currently no cure and very limited drug therapies available . All works in this exhibition have been donated by over 50 Australian artists, with 100% of sales going directly to the Leukaemia Foundation of Australia.
(image above) 1 of my 3 donated works. Melaleuca Wetlands - Study I, 2017, mixed media on paper, 28 x 38 cm (unframed). Happy to say all 3 sold.
To view the catalogue go to ambercreswell.com/mpn
03 Nov 2017
Pink Lake - Penong to Cactus, 2017. oil and beeswax on board.
One of four works included in Arte Ricca 2017. Curated by Elly Joel, the exhibitors include: Kiera Anne, Anya Brock, Alex Cearns, Catherine Charnaud, Penny Coss, Ben Crappsley, Melanie Dare, Annabel Dixon, Caspar Fairhall, Forma, Kelsey Ashe Giambazi, Sarana Haeata, Giles Hohnen, Chris Hopewell, Bela Kotai, Eveline Kotai, Alexandra Lekias, Jen Mellor, Rose Megirian, Lesley Munro, Annette Orr, Angela Stewart, Ruby Talbot-Dunn, Jane Tangney, Ruth Vickers, Kirsten Watkins and Nick Wild.
Opening tonight 6pm NOV 3rd, Beehive Montessori - Curtin Avenue, Mosman Park
News just in - I received Peoples Choice Award : )
18 Sep 2017
PCWK9 (Pure Contemplation without Knowledge 9) curated by Ron Nyisztor and Carla Adams - an all female show!
Opens 23rd September 6 - 8 pm till October 8th
05 Sep 2017
I have some artwork available in the beautiful Mobilia store in Claremont. Seen here Bremer Bay, (diptych) oil on canvas, 140 x 110 cm each panel.
Designers discount applies to these pieces - enquire within.
16 Aug 2017
I got a lovely surprise when I was awarded Highly Commended at the Hadley's Art Prize. I was pretty excited to be hanging in this award with some amazing Australian artists (including a few of my art heroes).
This luscious and confident landscape lures you into the beauty of 'The Neck' on Bruny Island. Judges described the paint handling as masterful, behind this mastery is the artist's acknowledgement that this place has a dark past.
(right) Standing in front of my painting 'The Neck' with the $100,000 Hadley's Art Prize winner Peter Mungkuri.
(left) Detail of his beautiful award winning artwork titled 'Ngura Wiru' (Good Country)
19 Jun 2017
18 Jun 2017
ARTEX is an annual fundraiser for the East Fremantle Primary School. This exhibition is always worth attending - the parents at this school know how to organise an art event!
4 - 6 AUGUST at the B-Shed on Fremantle Port
13 Feb 2017
Proud to be associated with this local brand of low VOC environmentally friendly paints. Bauwerk Colour has new stores in Claremont, WA and Melbourne, VIC.
13 Feb 2017
(left) and (right) Eyre Peninsula - Desert Country. See previous post.
13 Feb 2017
(left) Jervis Bay, NSW (right) Milton, NSW
Please follow me on Instagram at tangney_jane if you are interested in seeing some of my sketch book drawings and photos from my recent road trip. Or simply click on the Instagram camera symbol above.
04 Nov 2016
LIFE, STILL is a painting exhibition curated by Amber Creswell Bell. Amber is an art, design, and lifestyle writer who has written for Australia's most popular design blog, 'The Design Files' plus 'The Planthunter' and many notable magazines such as Green. In 2016, Thames and Hudson published her beautiful book titled Clay - Contemporary Ceramic Artisans.
LIFE, STILL brings together a group of painterly painters working in both landscape and still life genres. The exhibition will be held in the newly established gallery and concept space, Saint Cloche.
Hillary Austin, Zoe Young, Wendy MacDonald, Nicole Chaffey, Jane Canfield, Jane Tangney, Mark Tweedie, Sam Michelle, Helen McCullough
November 24 - December 5
saintcloche.com 37 MacDonald St, Paddington NSW Australia 2021
04 Nov 2016
Moreton Bay Fig - Settlement, Wadjemup (Rottnest), oil on linen diptych, 25.5 x 20 cm each
Artist Open House Fremantle is on again. This fun weekend enables visitors to purchase art in selected homes in the South Fremantle region.
This year my work is hanging in a townhouse designed by the celebrated local architect Brian Klopper, who is described by writer Marcus Collins in an article for ARCHITECTUREAU as; "An outspoken architect/builder, Klopper developed a cult following for his idiosyncratic houses of rustic inventiveness in urban settings"
November 12 - 13
04 May 2016
I received some red dirt in an old Vegemite jar - it came all the way from Burgooney inland NSW. The dirt was collected many years after an eight year old boy and his family were forced to leave their land. The eight year old boy - now a successful architect, asked me to capture this lost farm and to include the red dirt he'd collected within the paint. HUGE responsibility! I also received photographs and a beautifully written 3 page story - here is the introduction.
I’d never been back to where I grew up as a child; a wheat and sheep farm in central-west New South Wales, tiny compared to the merged ones today. Our farmhouse burnt down a long time ago. I was sad this part of my childhood, a box of memories was gone forever. I returned as an adult in my mid thirties, an anchorless man after imploded loves, groping in darkness for equilibrium, bouts of lurking depression descending like fog. Now I’m standing in grey, red dirt looking at an empty space where our house used to be. Built in unadorned timber, its verandas filled in as more kids came along. Now only small clumps of scrappy artichoke thistle and ragweed grow where our patch of lawn once encircled the house, like a moat defending the civilised from the barbarian, a stupid place really - trying to live and grow crops. Now emptiness not sadness filled me. I was surprised by that.
While working on this painting I was listening to Radio National - it was around ANZAC Day and I heard Idris Murphy recite a beautiful quote - I stopped painting to write it down.
"The beauty of a landscape resides in it's melancholy", Ahmet Rasim, Turkish writer (1864-1932)
Two nights ago the boy from Burgooney came to my studio. I felt sick with anxiety, but all was okay - he loved it!
01 Apr 2016
As a relative newcomer to social media (Instagram) I was delighted to see my suite of four paintings titled, Coastal Banksia Walk, 2015, hanging beautifully in the home of Jane Ledger. This is one of two works purchased by Jane from Artist Open House Fremantle in late 2015.
To see more of Jane Ledger’s style visit her website: www.spacecrush.com.au and Instagram @ledgelovespace
21 Mar 2016
Today a friend mentioned the name Joseph Cornell – American artist and sculptor (1903 -1972). I had not thought about him in a very long time and yet at university I was obsessed by Joseph Cornell’s boxed assemblage work. Hearing his name prompted me to look for images of an artwork I made around 1992 titled, Shared Living. This artwork was influenced by Cornell and touched on Gaston Bachelard’s notions about the house and self.
“…because our memories of former dwelling-places are relived as day-dreams these dwelling-places of the past remain in us for all the time.”
Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space
Shared Living recounts a time when I was a student, living in a share house in Victoria Park, Perth. It was a strange rental house with a lot of old furniture either in the house for us to use or locked upstairs in the attic. While viewing the house as prospective tenants my friends and I asked the landlady what was in the attic. She casually told us, “Oh nothing, just Grandma’s hair”. Thinking we misheard her, one of us asked again only to hear the same odd reply. Needless to say, we picked the lock on the attic door as soon as we secured the house keys. In the attic we saw old newspapers stacked high, antique furniture, old phones, photographs and most memorably a drawer full of long dark human hair!
The narrative in this artwork centres on the mysterious Grandma and myself. Two strangers and yet two women who have occupied the same space, viewed themselves in the same mirror and dreamt under the same roof.
The top left windowpane depicts Grandma reproduced and screen-printed onto the glass from an original photograph hanging within the house. On the bottom right windowpane is my passport photo surrounded by a suitcase to indicate my transience. The suitcase was replicated onto little swing tags and attached only to objects owned by me. Maybe my younger self thought this artwork would somehow honour her memory or keep her ghost at bay? The house WAS spooky!
There is an option to turn on tiny electric lights within the dollhouse-like construction giving it a light box effect (as seen in the left image above). On opening the hinged window I wanted music from two different eras (hers and mine) to play like a music box, but that kind of technology was beyond me at 20 years of age. Various objects throughout the house were replicated in balsa wood or paper and then painted. Little screen-printed shoes ascend the stairs like board game tokens and depict shoe fashion through the ages. They march towards their resting place in the attic.
Shared Living was approximately 1m in height. Sadly my own Grandmother got tired of storing this large artwork for me when I was away travelling. She mistook it as junk and it ended up in a skip bin.
15 Feb 2016
My painting has been selected as a finalist in this years John Glover Art Prize. I have enjoyed being shortlisted for this prize over the years (this being my 8th Glover) as it keeps me connected to the Tassie landscape which was my temporary home for four years.
Coles Bay, 2016 oil and beeswax on canvas 140 x 135 cm.
The Glover Prize has become one of Australia's most significant awards for landscape painting. It is awarded annually for the work judged the best contemporary landscape painting of Tasmania. The winner receives $40,000 and a bronze maquette of colonial artist John Glover, whose legacy is celebrated through the Prize.
17 Nov 2015
For this years Murdoch University Art Collection end of year exhibition, I have designed a fun invitation featuring the work of Perth artist Joanna Lamb. Out of all of the Collection's 2015 art acquisitions, this image stood out for its summer time, Australian, retro vibe.
The exhibition will be held tomorrow night (sorry - invitation only).
This past year I have also been updating the Murdoch University Art Collection website. It will soon be possible to view online the Collection's art acquisitions on a year by year basis spanning the last ten years. I will keep you posted when the site is live!
12 Nov 2015
Artist Open House Fremantle has produced a broadsheet for this years event. Thank you AOHF team for asking me to be a part of such a beautiful publication (interview pg.9)
Copies of the broadsheet are available at Ootong and Lincoln, Caporn Young and The Corner Store.
Nov 14 -15
25 Sep 2015
Sneak peek at some little guys I'm creating for this years Artist Open House Fremantle. The exhibition takes place in selected homes in the South Fremantle area.
The idea is to show artwork in homes rather than a typical gallery environment.
NOVEMBER 14 - 15
19 Aug 2015
Our block recently got even better with the addition of this caravan – my weekend studio! It is even slightly bigger than the one we sleep in down there. Margaret River artist Wendy Castleden very generously donated it. The caravan was painted blue some time ago but was looking tired, patchy and faded. With a fresh lick of black paint it is looking spritely again. Thank you Wendy and Bill x
16 Aug 2015
For many years the idea of having a website has seemed very daunting. I am not someone to whom self promotion comes easily - just ask Matt Bailey my patient web designer. This resistance may be due, in part, to an underlying feeling that there are already enough people online, presenting carefully curated versions of themselves. Another reason is of course fear - there is comfort in relative anonymity, and word of mouth works well…to a point.
Probably the most important reason for me to have a website is this: being able to say ‘YES – I do’, in response to the question – ‘Do you have a website?’ – that is inevitably asked of me when I have struggled to effectively convey what I do. Not to mention the relief it will bring my partner when he is presented with the same situation.
So here it is...
13 Aug 2015
I am not an architect.
I have qualifications in visual art and graphic design. I have completed units in building and interior design, but not enough to call them qualifications. I'm mostly self-taught when it comes to residential design.
Some people struggle to grasp how an artist can design a house and question why they would want to. I am the type of artist who has always had a keen interest in form, proportion, materials and colour so it doesn't seem out of the ordinary to me.
Design projects come with their own set of helpful constraints such as client brief, budget, the site and its orientation. With residential design I feel I am responding to a need by helping to make someone’s life easier and more pleasing to the senses. I am increasingly aiming to encourage small scale, simplistic and sustainable homes.
Designing residential buildings is a process of collaboration with many people, starting with the client. For small interior projects such as kitchens or alterations (not requiring council approval), my concept plans are drawn and ready for the builder or cabinet maker to work from. Larger additions or new homes requiring council approval will need a site survey and a set of working drawings. In this case I organise a surveyor and I liaise with an architect or draftsperson to document my concept plans. I do site visits to check progress along the way and I’m often called back to consult on the interior and/or landscaping. I do not take on multiple jobs at one time.
Painting on the other hand is without constraints or collaborators, which for me makes it infinitely more difficult. Unlike the computer where designs can be saved, duplicated and altered, there is no safety net with painting. Creating a personal, visual language takes commitment, determination and a lot of courage. Everyone is a critic after all - as an artist you need to develop a thick skin.
06 Aug 2015
I grew up loving art. I went to six primary schools in seven years. Something I learnt along the way was that drawing defined who I was. Drawing breaks down barriers when you’re always the new kid. With great relief I went to one high school. Applecross High is a public school with an art program. We were a tight knit group of art nerds who went to school on Saturdays for five whole years just to do art! The success of this program lies in the fact that the tutors are practicing artists.
I went on to study Fine Art at Curtin University, with the best portion of my third year spent on exchange at Chiang Mai University, Northern Thailand. It was there that I was alone to really play with the medium of paint. In 1993 conceptual art took precedence over the expressive, with the landscape genre considered the most anachronistic of all painterly pursuits. The degree course left me questioning everything.
After University I worked six days per week as a picture framer for 17 months to save enough money to travel. I backpacked for almost two years through Vietnam, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Greece (working in a hotel and selling sketches to tourists) then Turkey before settling for six months in London - working as a picture framer in Notting Hill. From this base I travelled throughout parts of Europe, seeing some of the world’s greatest art and architecture, including a Mark Rothko retrospective in Madrid in 1995.
From London I booked a return flight to New York. I stayed with a friend I had met in Vietnam. He lived on the top floor of a brownstone on Montague Terrace - Brooklyn Heights. I felt like an imposter who had landed on the set of Sesame Street. He made me a makeshift bed in a huge bay window overlooking Manhattan - Twin Towers still intact. I visited art galleries daily and recall vividly seeing a show titled, 'The Conversation of St.Paolo Malfi', by Julian Schnabel at Pace Wildenstein on Greene Street. His enormous paintings had an emotional effect on me - unexplainable at the time. I think now it was their rawness and their honesty. They exemplified that alchemical painting process of substance to spirit and spirit to substance.
From New York I journeyed across America to Colorado to visit my sister who had settled there. She encouraged me to visit the west coast before returning to London and it was there I saw The Ocean Park Series by Richard Diebenkorn. At the age of 23, I had found someone who would continue to inspire me to this day. I also visited Mexico, specifically to see the inspiring home and studio of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
Back in Australia I settled in Fremantle and started painting and picture framing for work. My first exhibition reflected some of the places I had visited but it wasn’t until 1998 that I started to paint my own backyard – the Fremantle Port. I was living in Pakenham Street in the old D&J Fowler building and I visited or walked past the harbour every day. After two more exhibitions in 1999 and 2000, I wanted a change and took myself off to Rajasthan, India. A solo exhibition titled Jali emerged from this trip - Fremantle Art Centre, 2002. During this time I was still picture framing part-time at an Indigenous art gallery in Subiaco - now known as Mossenson Galleries. It was there over a six year period, I discovered a passion for Aboriginal art and culture.
During this period, residential design also entered my life and I took to it intuitively. I was exposed to architecture from a young age through my Dad. His plans were hand drawn with the finest Rotring pens, which had to be held almost 90 degrees for the ink to flow through the needle-like tip. He had a great eye and I often went to building sites with him. The smell of curing concrete always conjures up memories of weekends spent with him. Dad had been living overseas for many years, he passed away in 2002, aged 55. I would have loved to get his feedback on my first design project (Glyde Street) but it wasn’t to be.
At 31 yrs, I followed my partner to Tasmania for a period of four years while he studied Ocean Engineering. Whilst there I enrolled in a Diploma of Design and Multi-media and a Cert IV in Interior Design. I gained some much needed computer skills and taught myself to use drawing programs for residential design work.
In Tasmania I worked as a picture framer part-time whilst also working towards an exhibition titled Island Tracks. I found an empty building opposite the Boags beer factory and after asking around discovered Boags owned it. My friendly landlords charged me a token sum to rent it as a studio. The first painting I completed in this studio made the final cut in the Glover Prize for landscape painting.
Local Tasmanian artist, Philip Wolfhagen was someone I admired from afar for his use of subtle colour and bees wax, which I have added to my paint ever since, giving it a buttery consistency. Idris Murphy, Steven Harvey, John Olsen, Aida Tomescu, Churchill Cann, Henry Wambini, Guy Grey-Smith and Kevin Lincoln are painters I also greatly admire. They all have influenced how I look at landscape and they all have a way of making the complex look effortless.
The Tasmanian experience has shaped where my painting is today. I am being more selective about which design projects I take on to ensure my number one passion 'painting' comes first.