15 year sojourn: a visual compilation of my travels between 1996 and 2011 and the impact of returning to my hometown in Australia has had on my Visual Arts practice.
My preoccupation with Identity emerged and developed whilst I was living in Sweden between 1996 and 2011 - initially as a foreigner and then as a naturalized Swede. Journeys to South America, North Africa, Europe and South East Asia, whilst based in Sweden, further informed my ideas, my creative process and my artistic style. Travelling gave me first-hand exposure to both traditional and contemporary artistic patterns and how they are used within different cultures as a way of both anchoring identity and encouraging self-expression. The symbolism and cultural connotations associated with these patterns, embodied in the decorative and functional objects of ceremonious occasions, have been powerful sources of inspiration for my own creative expression and I use them freely to explore my ideas.
The mixed media stitched artworks often propagate from quick, preliminary pencil sketches which can, depending on the complexity of the image I am creating, develop further, using watercolour or colour pencil studies as a process to explore a particular idea or element within the emerging artwork.
The Butterfly Series metamorphosed within the first few months of my yearlong Artist’s Residency in Malaysia in 2010. Before travelling to Asia I had become immersed in the world of butterflies and moths after visiting a Joseph Scheer exhibition in Sweden and had painted hundreds of translucent fabric butterflies.
This array of vibrant and muted butterflies, created in Sweden, was packed in my materials box and flew with me to Rimbun Dahan, Malaysia. There, in the tropical surrounds of my new studio, the butterflies were carefully placed onto a newly stretched canvas, their composition changing gradually as I explored the effects of layered colours, and with each new layer the colours changed and new forms were created.
The series Sketches from Rio is an unusual tribute to the hawkers of Rio de Janeiro’s beaches; textile art and the ‘Fine Art’ technique of en plein air (in the open air) sketching. I created 31 stitched artworks after being captivated by the hawkers who, with panache and perseverance walk the beaches selling their produce and wares to sunbathing Cariocas (locals) and tourists. I was particularly fascinated by the physical details of the hawkers and their interactions –or lack thereof- with beach goers. What appear at first glance to be seemingly quickly executed sketches are in fact laboriously stitched artworks. I deliberately chose to make the works look like sketches -something we generally create and peruse briefly (like we look at hawkers, uniformed workers or the homeless). I wanted the viewer to glance, then to take a deeper look at the artwork and ask themselves, is that merely a sketch or is there much more ‘work’ to this work? Just as when we meet another person –does their identity lie solely on the surface, defined by what they ‘do’ or is there more to them.