Tuesday, 23 August 2016

DAILY PRACTICE | BELYNDA HENRY










Belynda Henry is an artist based in the Dooralong Valley on the NSW Central Coast. Most recently she has been selected as a finalist for the Archibald and Wynne prizes.

She is currently exhibiting at Flinders Lane Gallery in Melbourne.

Here is her original interview on Daily Imprint. Today she shares some insights into her daily art practice. 

Describe a typical working day 
I always wake up with exciting thoughts about what I want to create. After getting our two daughters to school and a scenic, always inspiring drive through our 20km-long valley, I get home as fast as possible, make a coffee and turn on Triple J or my favourite music. Usually loud as we live in the middle of thousands of acres of National Park and the neighbours are too far away to hear anything.

I answer emails as they arrive, if possible, so it’s not a big job at the end of the day. Depending on my mood, I like to start painting or drawing  something that doesn’t matter. Works on paper are great for that. I have a big works on paper table which always has something happening. 

I am usually working on an exhibition or commission pieces, but always believe in painting something for no one, that way I can completely let go and try to push my paintings a little further and not really care what anyone thinks. If that makes sense. I paint all day, around family time, usually late into the night. Most days 10-12 hours, if possible.

What are your preferred tools, materials and equipment? 
Art materials. I usually work with a variety of paints. Mostly acrylic paints and love drawing into the works with pastels. I have discovered Liquitex spray cans just recently and love that they are water based and you can move the paint around once applied. Also nice for drawing into a painting with. I am constantly searching for new techniques and ways of painting. I look forward to introducing oil paints back into my next exhibition, which is set for September 2017 with Olsen Irwin in Sydney. I purposefully have given myself a longer period of time to paint for this show so I can get outside and really look and think about what it is exactly I am trying to do with the Australian landscape. Looking forward to it and exploring new materials.

How do you dress for your job?
Oh goodness, lucky no one sees me all day long. Terrible, horrible, paint-splattered outfits. I have about 10 pairs of painting jeans which are building up a lovely messy painterly appearance. I gave up on using an apron. T-shirts, my husbands old business shirts and good old Converse sneakers. So if I go out to the city for the day I feel amazing wearing a nice dress.

What is the current state of your desk or creative space?
Most of the time an out-of-control messy place. But it’s a very creative space and I know where everything is. My office is in the studio. I have just cleaned up after finishing this exhibition for Flinders Lane Gallery.  

What's your approach to managing technology - from emails to social media?
Well, emails are fine as my computer is here in the studio, unless I am feeling behind and need to put all of my energy into a painting, such as the last two weeks of painting for a show. Then I might start flagging emails and come back to them later.

Instagram is my fave, and I really can’t help looking all day long if I stop for food or drink. I love looking at what the art world is up to from my quiet little space in the trees. It helps me feel connected with the outside world. 

When and what do you have for lunch?
I have many lunches. I usually eat all day long. I believe in healthy, natural food and the kitchen is only a 20-second walk out the studio door back into the house. I get really hungry when I paint. It’s surprising how much energy you can use up. Living in the country means no cafes nearby, which is good - I just eat and get straight back to work, no distractions.

What's your preferred pick-me-up?
Coffee or a big green smoothie or juice.

How do you combat physical or creative lulls? 
Luckily those moments come rarely. I just finished painting on Thursday last week for Flinders Lane Gallery. The next day or two you realise how tired you are. I love bike rides with my girls. The last few hills back up to the house are sure to wake you up.

Creative lulls come rarely but can always be cured by a day looking at Sydney galleries or a visit to a bookshop like the one at the Art Gallery of NSW. Or just sitting in a landscape sketching or going for a big walk at the end of the valley here and taking photographs. So much wildlife here to enjoy.

What role does silence or sound play in your day?
I prefer silence to noise any day. I love sitting out on the deck and listening to the many bird sounds. Perfect. But while I am painting music is important too.

What's the last thing you do before finishing work for the day?
Put all the lids on my paints and brushes in a bucket of water to soak. Take a look around at what’s happened today, then turn off the lights, close the door and fall into bed into a very deep sleep.


images courtesy of belynda henry and flinders lane gallery



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Monday, 22 August 2016

INTERVIEW | HELENE ATHANASIADIS







“I have always - and still am - blown away by the science of photography, just the idea of recording light,” says Helene Athanasiadis. “But I never really set out to be a photographer as such, I just always liked taking photos. It’s been over 20 years now.” While Helene majored in photography at university while undertaking her first degree, she went on to study art history but maintained her interest in fine art photography. “I particularly loved how an unusual angle could transform an ordinary object or setting into an abstract,” she says.

While photography has been a constant in Helene’s life, it hasn’t been her only focus. Originally she studied fashion design at RMIT and worked in the industry for several years but she returned to study at La Trobe University and graduated with dual honours in archaeology and art history in 2006. She worked as an archaeologist for many years. “My design and art training proved handy in artefact illustration and site planning, which I did a lot of over the years,” Helene says. “And in the field I always had my camera. I loved all the textures, tones and palette of relics and stratigraphic layers. Stained, layered and fragmented. These elements feature heavily in all my work.”

While she grew up in Melbourne, Helene now lives in Castlemaine, Central Victoria, about 150km north of Melbourne. “It has an enormous concentration of artists and writers so it’s a good place to be,” she says. It’s where she has been based while creating her latest series of works, currently on show at 69 Smith Street Gallery in Melbourne. Alpha, Helene’s first solo show, runs until 4 September.

Which five words best describe you? Really busy all the time!
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since?  When I moved from the city to the country I rented a lofty art studio in the art precinct of my town, built a website and basically got to work. I took a year off archaeology and basically spent almost every day in the studio working on ideas that I had been brewing for years. I now regularly get photographic commissions, mainly from other creatives, I exhibit, and I now also work with mixed media. I literally integrate stained and textured layers onto my photographs. I transform botanicals and landscape imagery. I guess it would fall into a contemporary abstract category. 
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Although I am still learning this, if self-doubt knocks on the door, don’t answer! Do your own thing, believe it, trust it and keep working on it. 
What’s your proudest career achievement? So far it’s my Stills and Solace photographic project. I travelled all over Australia to photograph the beautiful spaces of creative women whose work I have long admired. Thank you for being a part of it, Natalie! It focused on the rooms within their homes where they find solace from the every day. I am turning it into a book this year.  
What’s been your best decision? Leaving the city for life in a country town. Having the Australian bush and open space around me feeds my creativity in ways the city didn’t.
Who inspires you? Artistically, it’s the wonderful work of Pat Steir. I have also discovered artist Patricia Larsen. She has a divine earthy textural aesthetic in her work and home. In my personal life it’s my beautiful daughter. And in general people who aim for the stars but also people who are content with who they. 
What are you passionate about? Creating a beautiful space to live and create in, organic skincare, books, ancient history, fashion, art history, camera film and my family. 
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My great great grandparents. I could never trace my family history as they didn’t keep records in rural Greece. 
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To live in a house near the seaside. I don’t have to necessarily have an ocean view but I’d sure like to be close enough to hear its motion while I slept. 
What are you reading? Shifting Focus: Colonial Australian Photography, ed Anne Maxwell and Josephine Croci. And always, always magazines; I love them - World Of Interiors and Vogue anything.


images courtesy of helene athanasiadis 


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

DAILY PRACTICE | HENRY CURCHOD





Henry Curchod is a Sydney-based artist who recently exhibited at China Heights Gallery.

Read Henry’s previous interview on Daily Imprint.

What are your preferred tools, materials and equipment? I use a lot of turpentine. Really heavily diluted oil paint. No material is really that sacred to me. In fact, the life of most tools and materials in my studio is transient. Except for my canvas pliers and a few pretty rare tubes of paint, I don’t think I’ve kept anything for more than a year. 

How do you dress for your job? Sometimes I try to dress nice so as to give more significance to the day of painting. Ultimately I get paint on everything so I’ve had to limit that. I have painted in my underpants many times...

What is the current state of your desk or creative space? Right now I’m stretching lots of canvases, and I’ve just had a show so all the work over the past six months is out. Basically there are paint tubes strewn all over the floor, lots of excess canvas, stretching bars, frames and wine bottles. 

What's your approach to managing technology - from emails to social media? It’s very hard. 

When and what do you have for lunch? I like to cook a lot. At the moment I’m very into light ragu. Ones which have a minimalist approach to evoking the most out of a flavour without crowding the sauce. Letting the reduction do the work. Lunch time pappardelle is becoming more common around here. 

What's your preferred pick-me-up? Coffee and wine. Food makes me tired. If I am painting well, then that itself is a perpetual pick me up. 

How do you combat physical or creative lulls? For creative lulls I play snooker or just go out. Change my environment a bit. But normally I adopt the ethos of “continuing to work through creative lulls”, because relying on lightning bolt moments is a sure way to a fragmented and dissonant practise. 

What role does silence or sound play in your day? This is a hard one. Often I’ll find I have worked six hours in silence, and only realise at the end of the day. But sometimes my thoughts are far too chaotic and disrupting so they can ruin my decision-making processes. At those times I listen to things which are ambient and repetitive, like house music; as a means of reaching a meditative state. 

What's the last thing you do before finishing work for the day? Clean my brushes... Pour a glass of wine and sit to look at my work. For about half an hour I will reflect on my progress, then make decisions about various changes I will make the next day. This means by the morning I will be prepared to make informed amendments. If it has been a bad day at the studio, I run out as fast as I can without cleaning my brushes. 

images courtesy of henry curchod and china heights gallery





Monday, 15 August 2016

INTERVIEW | GAYE CHAPMAN







When Gaye Chapman, who lives and works in Sydney, was an artist in residence in the Dorrigo Rainforest she had a “lights on” moment. “I was thunderstruck to pursue my own vision and not be intimidated by external pressures to conform to zeitgeist of fashions in contemporary art,” she says. But, she says, this desire to follow her own path was planted during her childhood. Her mother, Patricia Chapman, encouraged her to pursue the arts while her father Peter Chapman, an amateur geologist, took his children on pilgrimages. “In particular, we went into the outback Gibber deserts - collecting, observing, and identifying rocks, insects, fish, bird and plant specimens; and conducting archaeological shard digs in the historic remnants of white settlement - white man’s middens,” Gaye says. “As a result of that, my paintings are a palimpsest of multi-layered experiences, their surfaces punctuated with experimental painting and drawing techniques, traditional painting and drawing media, and the Australian landscape of my bush childhood.”

For 20 years Gaye’s work has focussed on regular working expeditions and research on the Castlereagh River in Central and Far Western NSW and aspects of the adjacent Goonoo country. In recent years she has incorporated the opal mining country around Lightning Ridge in Far Western New South Wales; where her father had an opal mine. “This intense connection with the land is integral to my painting,” she says.

Gaye has a PhD in Contemporary Art from the University of Western Sydney and a Masters degree in Visual Art and Design from the University of New England. She studied fine art at The National Art School in Wollongong. Gaye has been a finalist in many leading awards, including the Doug Moran Portrait Prize and was appointed artist in residence and Honorary Associate with the Macleay Museum of Natural History at the University of Sydney in 2010.

Which five words best describe you? Passionate, obsessed, determined, kind, wild.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I have painted since childhood. My art career began with drawing pictures with sticks, onto the dirt road at the back of our bush house on the river. I won my first art prizes in 1967 at 14; a drawing prize for a self portrait at the Mendooran Agricultural Show and a CBNTV8 Orange NSW art competition to design “Mod” sneakers. I also took my first commission at 14, to paint psychedelic murals on the youth drop-in centre in Mendooran. I had my own painting studio at home, bought plywood canvases from the local agricultural supply store and studied fine art through the NSW Correspondence School in year 5. I left school to study Fine Art at the National Art School in 1970 and have worked and studied consistently in the arts since then; as an exhibiting fine artist, and variously as a graphic designer, illustrator, events manager, art director and the media.
What’s the best lessons you’ve learnt along the way? Stick to your guns and don’t be swayed by fashionable thinking for the art world is full of trickery. That you are always better than you know/knew at the time and many times I have painted “ahead of my time”. I have had the luxury of being able to see works I painted over a decade ago, and to realise they were good. Swallow the bitter pills of the art world and go on into the journey of the work, for that is what matters.
What’s your proudest career achievement? There are many, but here are two: One. That I am still standing at 63 as a practicing self-employed professional artist/painter. Two. Fulfilling my childhood fantasy and walking into the Art Gallery of NSW on a red carpet opening night with my work hanging for the first time in the Sulman Prize. 
What’s been your best decision? To never say die.
Who inspires you? Not famous people - unless you mean Turner, Rembrandt, Mark Rothko and Lloyd Rees. People who fight with courage and maintain their eccentricity and humanity and bravery.
What are you passionate about? The demise of true Feminism; the suppression of gifted and talented people; the decay of the Arts in Australia; bullying in any form; snobbery and classism being denied in Australia.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? A Pagan god, to prove his/her existence.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To establish a life where I can continue to paint.
What are you reading? Anything that takes my mind out of the mundane world for a while. I have been known to resort to the back of jam tins!


images courtesy of gaye chapman


Thursday, 11 August 2016

THE EDIT | KIM FICARO







Kim Ficaro is a New York-based stylist who regularly creates shoots for the likes of Anthropologie and West Elm. She is also the author of The Inspired Home and is about to launch a new homewares collection, Totem.

Read her original interview on Daily Imprint.

Here are some of Kim's favourite things at home.


THE EDIT
Coffee La calombe
Tea Dried hibiscus flowers from markets in Mexico.
Treat Chocolate
Skincare My mom's natural products she makes, my favourite is her Gypsy Oil, all over my body.
Soap Dr Bronner's castille soap, eucalyptus
Fragrance Le Labo - bergamote
Candle I am more into incense: copal or palo santo. 
Sunglasses Retrosuperfuture
Hat Ryan Roche at Warm Shop in NYC.
Wallet I use a man's wallet, just for cards.
Bag A woven bag from the markets in Colombia.
Notebook Postalco 
Jeans Warm collection at warm shop in NYC and Doen Collection
Shoes APC boots, Vans, and vintage greek sandals, rainbow flip flops.
Jacket Veda leather jacket.
Swimwear Acacia
Flowers Anything wild.
Plant Agave
Refreshment Kombucha or a tequila.
Sleepwear Nothing.

images courtesy of kim ficaro; photography gentl and hyers and ditte isager (2, 3, 4)



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