What initially sparked your interest in art, and how has your passion evolved over time?
I am artist born and bred, through and through!
There is a saying ‘You can’t take the country out of the girl’, well I’m a country girl with a ‘heart made for art’.
The women of my Family have all had strong inclinations and talents in the feminine arts. Handicrafts, cooking, sewing and the finest needlework.
‘Birthplace of QANTAS’, Waltzing Matilda, the ‘Home of the Dinosaurs’ , the incredible ‘Channel Country’ – Winton QLD is my home town.
My Grandfather’s Sister Phylils was an Outback Artist, she loved to paint Dunny Doors for the Outback Festival and was a vital part of a thriving art scene when I was a child. Luckily- she took me under her wing and gave lessons in oil painting, drawing, pottery and introduced me to the life of a ‘Visual Artist’. I won my first award when I was 7 for an oil painting depicting a vase of flowers, it takes pride of place on my wall today.
When it came to art, I guess you could say ‘I was hooked line and sinker’ – just like my grandfather and his Yellow Belly fishing .
I knew I was going to be an artist – I just didn’t know what form or shape it would take.
‘Jill of All Trades’ is a title that haunts me, everything I decide to try, just seems to come naturally. What I always wished for was a ‘Grand Passion’, something that I was totally absorbed by and used all of my abilities.
Every now and then, I would dabble and deliberately spread my artistic wings – just to reassure myself that I was still able, still ready to launch. I kept waiting for ‘my time’.
There were a lot of ways I got creative, I was a bespoke cake maker. I worked for an eccentric English Florist, I did a lot of photography – even winning a crystal bowl at the RHS Royal London Flower Show. I wrote and photographed articles both in Australia and overseas for glossy magazines. I Studied Horticulture and set up a garden design company called ‘Ivy May’ after my Grandmother. I kept working, but I was waiting…
Photography wasn’t what my vision of being an artist was. In my mindset it was inferior – being an artist was being a painter like Monet or Renoir or Leonardo. As I learned more about art , my artistic influences ranged from Brett Whitely, Rosalie Gascoigne, Jeffrey Smart, Cressida Campbell and the incredible Margaret Olley. Art and art galleries were my overriding passion. Luckily I got to go to many exhibition openings every week – especially when I lived in Rozelle, Sydney.
I undertook a variety of workshops, I studied art processes, like painting in watercolours (not enough bold colour for this Goldilocks), painting in oil (better, but just not quite right).
Heart-Connection has always been important to me, right from the beginning of my photographic explorations, the desire to create meaningful visual connections for my clients was inherent in my style. Through competitions I discovered very quickly ,via feedback from judges that I was gifted with ‘the eye’. Great… but I was still waiting. In the mean time I created gift cards, business cards, invitations and wine labels for my clients to celebrate their homes, special events – birthdays, births etc.
Travel was the jam on my scones and through my photography I discovered a perchance for digital manipulation of my photographs and text in Photoshop. Initially I was using my horticultural photos to create reference pieces to use in oil paintings – accidentally I found my metier – I am a digital printmaker.
Moving up and down the Eastern states of Australia gave me a wide scope in landscape and architectural styles. Architecture is a passion of mine. Through a series of ‘unfortunate events’ – I just happened to end up in the ‘Big Smoke’ – BrisVegas. Fortunately, creatively – this was right for me.
Not long after moving to Brisbane I was encouraged by the ladies at my local library here in Bulimba to display an exhibition of my art. I didn’t want to just put the artworks that had won me prizes or been purchased by regional art galleries for permanent collections, by private collectors here and abroad, or work that had featured in group or collaborative exhibitions. The need to create something completely BRAND New took hold of me – I needed to be, and to do, something completely brand new, something revolutionary.
The catalyst was reading Vogue Interiors – The Italian Issue. I read it cover to cover, over and over. Visually I had an epiphany… my time had finally come – I had ‘kicked down the door’. (Listen to Paul Weller’s ‘Brand New Start’ on YouTube it is my ‘Get out of Jail and Pass Go Card’… it is an anthem of action!!!! I was filled with passion and purpose and giddy with possibilities. I was ready to make my mark!
Colour, composition and typography all beckoned and the genesis of BRAND new art , quietly stole into my heart, my mind, my soul and my life as an artist… had arrived!
The Epiphany what is it you ask… I decided to create fabric designs, wallpaper patterns and ‘Hero’ artworks on my client’s own visual history. I would celebrate and connect them with their past and their passions. BRAND new art would nurture and reject the generic in homes, businesses, office spaces, public buildings, commercial spaces and make people feel a part of something sustainable , generational, generative, tangible and alive.
Instead of generic images, BRAND new art would immortalise ‘moments in time’ to grace everyday walls. Become a treasure trove of priceless images that like a Tardis can transport you faster than a Ferrari to a ‘Happy Place’!
Many of my designs fall into a Chinoiserie style – and this is a reflection of my love for interior decoration and porcelain or china pieces.
In May 2022 I visited the NGA to immerse and wallow in the glory of the Jeffery Smart Retrospective. Colour wise he was a God in my estimation. When I was returning to Brisbane I had another epiphany at the airport.
The result was the direction BRAND new art took next – my Funktion Art Range was released at the end of August 2022 at a solo exhibition.
My Funktion Art Range is a re-invention – a ‘Fusion’ of the Pen and Ink drawings of Local Notable Buildings with Vintage Style Posters.
Susy and ORGANIC print studio rocked my world and now my products are gracing homes across 13 countries and approximately 40 locations in the UK. I have to laugh here… as I have no website, no on-line shop, only a handful of pop-up shops and a grand total of three market stalls to my credit.
Now I have learned being a ‘creative’ isn’t enough… I need to add another whole head of feathers titled ‘Marketing’ !!
The Future is golden… I can see it… and the knowledge that I am on the ‘yellow brick road’ is a relief! I have no fear of the direction – as any movement is soooo much better than standing still and waiting. There is no back stepping – in reality I liken movement to compass points… rather than forwards or backwards or sideways. Movement is a direction and changing course brings adventure!!
Goals for BRAND new art are :
● Keep growing organically!
● Build my profile through competitions and exposure.
● Extend my Postcodes Series across the whole of Australia and NZ in plenty of time for the Olympics.
● Create connections within communities and celebrate uniqueness.
● Feed my architecture and art passions regularly, and
● Once in a while take a breath and remind myself… this Country Gal – is still a ‘Girl’ at heart and that heart grows with art!!
Can you share a particular artwork/project that holds a special meaning to you, and why?
I am passionate about my Postcode Series of Australia.
When the Olympic City for 2032 was announced and Brisbane won the bid – I really took it to heart.
I thought deeply how I as a Queenslander, as a ‘girl from the bush’ and as a woman of a ‘certain age’ (well when the Olympics gets here!!!). could make my mark, tell a story and create a legacy through my art and literally set it on the world stage.
This is when I decided to go smaller… not bigger!
This is when I decided Functional was just as important as decorative.
This is when I dreamed of community – where I could create connections between people + places + moments in time.
This is when I believed past + present + future can connect through art.
My Postcodes Series is all about being proud of where you are, where you are going, where you have been and what you are doing. It truly encompasses an emotional attachment to time + place + memories.
My Funktion Art Range is about sustainability – so being as green and as organic as possible is super important to me.
It is also hyper important to not be breakable – to be something that is strong and enduring, just like the Aussie Spirit. Indomitable, innovative and inspirational!
The plan is to cover the whole of Australia and (with a wing and a prayer) a large part of ‘over the ditch’ New Zealand by the time 2032 rolls around.
The dream… is to be bigger than Ken Done!!
Big shoes I know… for a country gal… but hey – Ken painted his ‘back yard’ which was Sydney Harbour and he painted what he loved like our amazing ‘Great Barrier Reef’. His artworks are iconic bursts of Australian life in bold colours.
My heart beats for this big country, ‘its wide open spaces’ , it’s ‘beauty rich and rare’ . This is a land of diversity, complexity, it is raw, it is both ancient and modern and it truly belongs to those who hold its welfare dear.
For me, the whole of Australia is a unique and deserving destination for both Australian and International visitors. Every postcode has some special spirit held within its buildings,, structures, monuments, people and places that define it.
Identity is a key component to connection… the bush holds just as much appeal as our cities. The Country Towns of our Australia belong to us all… they just ARE the intrinsic heart, backbone and soul of the Nation!
BRAND new art sees the need for communities – big and small to be celebrated and put on the pedestals they deserve.
Every postcode has some significance – whether it be architectural, natural beauty, historical incidents, geographical diversity or individuals of merit or renown persons who hailed from there.
Let us identify with a place as our own personal thread of heritage. Let us gather up all the threads of places important to us and weave them into the organic fabric of our lives. Organically – both physically and metaphorically connect ourselves to our past, our present and our future.
My passion for art with heart (and functionality) has become my… ‘raison d’etre’
How do you approach the process of creating art? Do you have any rituals or techniques that help you get into a creative mindset?
Ideally the key elements I require to be at my zenith as a creative are:
A clean kitchen (as I can see it from my desk ( which is my dining table)… my beautiful art studio downstairs was commandeered by teenagers when they decided to redecorate their rooms and dump all their furniture. One guess where it went! Now I cannot work down there as it looks like a warehouse of furniture.
But I digress… don’t let me run away with the subject of teenagers!!
Key elements continued: Music. Music and more music.
Each of my exhibitions or artworks requires it’s very own soundtrack that must be played in order for the creative juices to flow.
Whether it be Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take Five’, Florence + The Machine (any album), Jimmy Barnes ‘Soul Deep’, Adele, Ed, Harry, FYC, INXS, Norah, ABC FM-Jazz Track, H&C, Ravel or Nina. I simply cannot create without one of them crooning, shouting or singing to my soul. It is as essential as air.
I’m always creating in my head – always ‘at work’… macerating options, ideas, thoughts and planning.
Of late I find that I write everything down… words, ideas, thoughts – even at 2am I open my phone and put notes down.
The older I am getting, thoughts can be ephemeral creatures, not unlike Hugh Grant in ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ – ‘lurking in the hallway’ of my mind. I have discovered more peace and more sleep by committing them to my phone for safe keeping.
Under the rules of full disclosure’ I must admit and add that – wine – does have its merits as an ingredient of the creative process!