“Life is a gallery…we start by following the script in the pursuit of realism to capture real life in real time but fall upon the abstract which captures our thoughts and feelings generated by the conscious and subconscious mind. The artist is no longer in isolation and there is now interaction between viewer and creator. The battle lines are drawn and the mind debates, is this real or abstract, or is this abstract expression”. (Pip Reid – PROOF Exhibition Aug 2013)
Years ago, as shy child, I spent the afternoon sitting at the piano belonging to my Great Grandfather in the hallway of the rambling homestead at Dunmore, Manilla (where I had spent many Christmas Days with family) in country NSW, and played by ear. Relatives heard me playing and said to my mother I had a natural ear for music and suggested I should have piano lessons. The upright grand piano with brass candelabras was given to my mother and I began piano lessons. I loved to play for myself although I’ve never been keen to play for others. I was once selected to be Mozart for a concert at the country boarding school I attended, and struggled with the attention. I have only ever wanted to play the piano for my own enjoyment – I began to dread lessons and the demands to practise made playing the piano a chore – and so my great grandfather’s beautiful piano was sold.
Music is also art. Music soothes, softens and inspires greatness. Sometimes it’s chilled, sometimes it’s loud and sometimes its classical that inspires artistic expression – each genre has its place – then there’s nature – and then there’s silence. Each form playing its part and taking the artist to where they’ve been and where they have never been before.
I have always loved art – I have Dutch blood! When I saw the Vincent Van Gogh Exhibition in Amsterdam for the second time in 2009 I burst into tears – happy tears. Whilst standing in front of this amazing art I also experienced what would have to be likened to great sex – great art can have that effect! Vincent Van Gogh was a truly amazing artist – my first painting I painted when I returned to Brisbane at the end of 2010 was a painting ‘Village – After Vincent Van Gogh’ – I was under the guise of a very talented Brisbane Dutch artist who inspired me greatly – to draw and paint what the eye sees – mark making, looseness and spontaneity. I learned the art of print making – in particular etching – I became transfixed.
For me Vincent Van Gogh’s art is mesmerising – literally. My lithograph ‘Soul’ channels Van Gogh. I find Van Gogh’s art liberating – my art comes from deep in my soul and my lithograph ‘Soul’ is aptly named.
Rembrandt is another favourite artist of mine – a truly gifted printmaker. I can only dream to aspire to reach the dizzying heights of this amazing printmaker/artist. Whilst in Holland (homeward bound – my paternal grandmother’s family originates from Amsterdam) in 2009 I went windmill chasing – I love the symmetry of the Dutch windmill. I visited and photographed a number of windmills, but one windmill will forever be etched in my memory. Somehow I managed to communicate with the owners (via sketches) that I had Dutch heritage – well I was certainly given the royal treatment after that – these Dutch people spoke no English – I spoke no Dutch, but somehow we communicated and knew it was a woman of Dutch heritage communicating with Dutchmen and that we were somehow connected – a truly amazing experience.
I had another great Brisbane printmaking mentor who taught me to break barriers, cross the line and take a chance – “think outside the box and don’t be afraid to try something different”. I created an etching inspired by my memory of the 15 months I spent living in Beijing. This piece named ‘It’s a Girl’ is the juxtaposition of structure and chaos – a marionette on strings under the watchful eye.
I was a mad crazy photographer for years – I guess I still am! Friends still ask me about my photography, others thought when they heard I had written a book, that it must be a book about photography – wrong! Whilst living in Beijing for 15 months I travelled to a few other Asian countries including Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Tibet. My photographs shown here are of a street vendor in a Beijing hutong, a mother and daugher in Cambodia and a sit-in on a monks’ debate in Tibet.
I have always struggled with my conception of art – I can love and appreciate real art (photographic art) but I aspire to the abstract interpretation of what I see. For me, why should I paint or draw something I can take a perfectly good photograph of – hence why I paint and draw my abstract interpretation of what my eye sees.
I took a photograph of a child (poor as a church mouse and hauntingly beautiful) at Anghkor Thom in Cambodia in 2010 – she posed patiently while I took a number of photographs of her. This photograph inspired my second painting channelling Cherry Hood ‘Ethereal – After Cherry Hood’.
I had a recurring dream for years – that I was incredibly drunk listening to loud music and creating amazing wild unedited abstract art – channelling Brett Whiteley. I have come to learn in the real world I can actually create abstract art completely sober! Whether I’m writing or creating some form of artistic expression – I am truly happy.
The origin of my artistic ability has been discussed by family and friends. Artistic expression is in the family genes – William Rupert Fenwicke Richardson (“Rupert Richardson”) OAM from Sydney/Barraba (1929-2013) who was a Wynne Prize finalist a number of years and Ross Laurie from Walcha (also a Wynne Prize Finalist).
I spent some time with a unique Brisbane artist, who explained to me that in order to be a good abstract artist, you must first learn to draw and paint correctly, “even when creating abstract art, the eye still expects certain things to be in certain places” – and so began my journey channelling Cherry Hood and other artists to arrive at my comfort zone – abstraction – freedom of expression!
Whatever I paint or draw – vivid acrylics, calligraphic art or loose watercolours – mark making is always present – return to printmaking and calligraphy roots.