Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Little Package

Today in the mail I received a lovely little surprise package. I opened up the padded envelope to find a cute little matryoshka doll (aka babushka dolls), and opened her up to find two other matryoshkas inside her.

With the recent passing of my grandfather, (who was Russian), I have been slightly fascinated with that part of my heritage and have been sourcing images and information that have now become a major creative inspiration for me. I had come up with several ideas for new works that strongly feature these crafted wooden dolls, however, I did not possess a set of matryoshkas. My grandmother has a number of them but she lives some distance away, and I had not had a chance to head out to the city and look for my own. I had contemplated buying some online, but was still deep in procrastination when the parcel arrived in my letterbox.

It was possibly the kindest gesture received since my grandfather died and it brought tears to my eyes. The doll came with its packaging from the shop, Babushkas, along with a small gift card that simply read 'thinking of you. C'.

It was very unexpected but so very much appreciated.

Thank you Cat.

Draft (it's all Greek to me)

I have been contacted by an Arts/Culture magazine in Greece about doing an interview.

I received the questions today and have been toying around with responses today.

I'm going to copy and paste the word document here so that I can come back and review what I have written at any time, on any computer should I need to access it... or feel the need to try and make (more) sense of it...

It always just feels like drunken ramble when I write stuff like this...

How would you describe yourself?

Intricate and Complex yet somewhat simple at the same time. A lot like my art. For me – it is simple – I just want to paint… I need to paint… but getting there or ‘the journey’ is often far more complex and the work I do is rather intricate and time consuming and requires an awful lot of patience. Like a number of artists I am certain I accommodate several personalities, but all of them share the strong desire to make art.. At times, my passion for art, and the making of it, has been mistaken for selfishness – I refuse to believe that following your dream is selfish. I now surround myself less with people who think this way, and more with people who encourage this ambition not only in me, but in themselves and others.

Tell me some things about your life/status etc..
Art has been a major part of my life since the age of 3 when I professed to my father that I was going to be an artist and sat down to draw him a picture – which, he still has today! My father was a big influence for me as a child and also in my art. He is a wonderful illustrator and my mother is also a painter (abstract), so art has always been around me, some say it was bred into me. It was certainly nurtured in my family. I am fortunate that my parents supported my desire to pursue art from a very young age and thus allowed me to leave school at 15 to do so. I started working for my father as a Graphic Designer and continued working in that field for over 10 years. I am often told that my work has a strong graphic influence, no doubt stemming from my fathers illustrative influence and my time in the graphics field. I moved away from the computer generated graphic world when I started exhibiting my paintings. Like all but a select few artists, I still needed to source an income from somewhere outside of my art and found that hospitality was flexible enough, (even though at times incredibly frustrating), to support my pursuit both financially and time wise, whilst ultimately striving to get to artist’s ‘NIRVANA’: being able to live solely off the income of one’s art.

Tell me about your work. Past exhibitions, studies.

I attended Melbourne School of Art part time for around 3 years after leaving school, but just like high school, I never completed any type of certificate course – I was always a stubborn student and just wanted to pursue my own thing.
Aside from my time as a Graphic Artist I had a strong interest in drawing animals when I was younger and traveled through Africa at the age of 21 studying the wildlife in its natural habitat and producing a series of highly detailed illustrations as a result of my time there.
My work has morphed and evolved into something completely different now.
For a long time I had been rather fascinated with Japanese art and culture and first traveled there in 2003. Prior to that, my first exhibition of acrylic paintings was based on the subject of Geisha and my fascination of the ‘floating world’ in Japan. I have since traveled there a number of times and also lived and worked, (painted), in Osaka for 4 months in 2007. The women I painted slowly began to come out from behind their painted masks over the following years, becoming a lot more personal and revealing more about myself in the process.
My latest exhibition was actually a series of self-portraits, exploring my own ‘battle of wills’: my two lives, the artist vs. The waitress. the battle between necessity and passion – and how one feeds the other, as well as the frustration along the way – ‘fighting to create’. It also explored idendity and asked questions - Where would I rather be? What would I rather be doing? The painting waitress: the waitress who paints or the painter who waits…. Waits to create… waits to paint.

The work explores my everyday world… the means in which I need to meet to paint… as well as the NEED to paint. It also explores the mysteries or other persona of the waitress… such a personal yet non-attached job… an intimate yet generic job or role. Serving an audience. What does a waitress do when she is not waiting? Looking at the idea that she is more than just a waitress… the notion that she could be anyone or anything outside of her waiting job. Of course it is well know that many musicians, artists and actors have done this sort of job. Often it’s a way to make ends meet whilst waiting for a break or recognition or respect in their chosen field of the arts…. Waiting to be noticed? People have no idea of what else she, (the waitress), can do other than carry multiple plates and pour champagne with one hand behind their back and a smile on their face… In a sense they, themselves are actors, for the job is role-play.

There is also the personal and sensual element to the food itself and its appeal to our senses of sight, smell and taste. ( My partner is a chef, and when we met he confessed to me that he possessed no artistic talent... I soon enabled him to see otherwise – we were more similar than he thought, the difference being that his canvas was a plate, and food was his medium.)

What did you do before you started to paint?
I have always drawn, since the age of 3 (as mentioned earlier). When asked the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” at school, my friends would change each year, from vet, to policeman/woman, doctor, pilot and so on, whereas my answer was always ‘an artist’. As mentioned, my parents were very supportive in nurturing my dream and working for my father Graphic design provided me with a great opportunity to do so. It was a foot in the door so to speak. After 7 years with my father I actually started my own Freelance Graphics business, and later began working in and even managing Commercial art galleries in and around Melbourne, eventually becoming a freelance art consultant - and it was during this time that I began to get serious about my own painting.

How come you chose to do that?

(Possibly answered this and the previous question in the above text???)

What is it that you love about pop art? How does it express who you are?

As mentioned, I have a strong background in graphic art – and obviously this show through in my paintings. I have always been quite technical in my approach and application, even when drawing, with fine line work and acute attention to detail. This style of work often looks so simplified, yet is actually so very intricate and time consuming to produce. I like the contradiction in this. The work I do seems highly structured – almost formulated – at first glance, but it is far more complex than just a bunch of clean lines. Pop culture is something I, and many others of my generation, have grown up with and can associate with. I like to use a ‘familiar’ medium and put different spin on it, be it through subject matter or humour for example.
Evoking any sort of emotion or response (sometimes even negative) for me, as an artist using a visual language is great. It is a known fact that when people are walking through an exhibit the average time they look at each piece is less than 3 seconds… so to capture someone’s attention beyond that is incredibly rewarding.

How come you prefer to depict women?
I believe it is important to be able to relate well to my subject and as a woman I can closely do so. To some degree I see a self-portrait element in most art, deliberate or not. For me it’s a way to express my femininity and an array of thoughts/emotions through my (or a women's) eye – or perspective - without always having to be completely obvious. At times it is almost chameleon like. Art allows me to experiment outside the realms of reality – there are no boundaries. I obviously identify with women; therefore I explore the art of visual language using a female figure as my platform and ‘voice’

What are often just seen as pretty or sexy images – have an underlying mystery, deeper meaning, darkness, story or message. However, I am happy either way with how people view the work – it’s a win-win… if people see beyond the image itself, that’s great, if they just love the image for the aesthetic image itself that’s great too…. I don’t see that as shallow – I see that as interpretation and personal choice.

Tell me about the characters of your paintings.
They explore the realms of sensuality and sexuality as well as often possessing a sense of fun or humour – I like to have an element of humour in my work, be it subtle, sarcastic or obvious. Its not essential that people ‘get’ the humour or even the idea behind each piece – as I believe strongly that art is open to interpretation but when they do see it or ‘get’ it – it is certainly a buzz for me.

Is there one that you particularly like?
(pls include it in the images you’ll send me)
I often look at many finished pieces and ask myself how I could improve it or if I could have done it better but each one breeds new life to the next piece and the journey is never dull. I am very partial to my recent Food and Desire series, as it is possibly the most intimately personal work I have created. Do I like everything I create? No. Is everything I create necessary? Yes. It’s an ongoing process and for me making art is essential.

Who are your influences-favorite artists? I am influenced by far more than imagery of other artists; this includes a lot of writers, such as Haruki Murakami, Jeanette Winterson, Jack Kerouac and Tom Robbins; and also musicians, among them are Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Radiohead, Patti Smith, PJ Harvey and Bjork. As far as visual artists, to name a few, Basquiat, Hokusai, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, William Kentridge, Karel Appel and Frida Kahlo, as well as a number of contemporary Japanese artists.

You also enjoy blogging. Have you been always writing? What’s the story here? I have always loved to write, be it short stories, poetry, journal or blog entries, even just stream of consciousness. I see it as another way to express myself. It is a very raw, quick and honest way to expel my thoughts, feelings, frustration or emotion. Writing can sometimes also help me with artists block because it is much more of a free flowing medium for me than painting. It is also, in a sense, a documentation of my life, which allows me to continue to look back and reflect.

Describe a typical day. How is your life as an artist different?
No day is typical as an artist. Just like each painting, every one is different and unpredictable.
I am not sure how different my life is to other people or other artists. I do know that as an artist, I am always taking situations or experiences and asking how I could interpret that through a work of art. I do have an extremely over active mind and I see art in everything… almost!

What are you working on right now? What are your plans for the near future? Do you have any exhibitions planned?
My dear grandfather recently passed away and he was a big inspiration for me as a child. He also used to paint. He was born in Russia and I have recently become fascinated with exploring my heritage through my art. I am not going to give too much away but you can definitely expect to see a shift from the Japanese influences, (at least for now), and a focus on the Russian ones. I am currently talking to my gallery in Perth, Australia about a solo exhibition next year. There are also a number of group exhibitions on the cards for 2010, including one in the U.S.A. For more information and updates people can check out my website. (