Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I’m a painter living in Melbourne, Australia. Wealth and grandiosity feature prominently in my work because we had no money growing up and at some point, in my formative years, I became obsessed with the concept of upward social mobility. In 2017 I made a series of paintings titled Widow’s and Their Companions: a look into the lives of women who commit mariticide after they marry into wealth.
Storytelling is also an important part of my practice. I make works that touch on my own personal experiences; they are voyeuristic and sentimental but there is always a disconnect between real life and what I choose to share with the audience.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I got really into drawing when I was five or six. As a child, I had always planned on becoming an artist but lost motivation in my early teens. During that time I got kicked out of my mum’s house and ended up dropping out of school a few years later. I worked in hospitality and spent some time overseas before finally moving to Melbourne to study art in my early twenties.
What do you like most about working where you do?
I have a painting studio in Collingwood in Melbourne’s inner north. I love this area for the creative opportunities that are available and the growing sense of camaraderie in the art community.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
Love, food, familial ties, suicide, rituals, substance abuse, hope, jealousy, identity, money. Heaps of stuff.
What is your process like?
I source visual inspiration anywhere I can: fashion journals, architecture magazines, porn stills, gardening books, etc. I play around with the composition of each work and begin painting when I’ve come up with something that I’m happy with that depicts the story I want to tell. I work with oil on canvas (sometimes stretched, sometimes not) and paintings can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to complete. I usually have 2 or 3 pieces going at the same time.
Is there any subject or theme you’ve been particularly interested in lately?
I’m mainly interested in religious art and Italian primitive paintings at the moment. Catholic symbolism features prominently in my work, often accompanied by sexually charged images of women: as a child, my family wasn’t overly religious, but transgenerational trauma, Catholic guilt and misguided values about love, sex and boundaries sculpted my identity from a young age. I find it cathartic to address romance, religion and mental illness in the same painting, because, for me, they are all connected.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for art?
First semester of art school, I covered I about 50 dead grasshoppers with acrylic paint and cake decorations. They smelled awful and my hands were covered in insect gunk all the time.
Do you have a day job or other work that you split your time between?
I usually have a few different sources of income: over the years I’ve worked as a barista, bartender, nanny, sold used underwear via Craigslist ads, etc.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
Friends, peers, teachers, gallerists, painters I admire have all played a role in mentoring me.
Is there any piece of advice you would offer to others?
Get honest feedback from people whose opinions you hold in high regard.
What does it mean to you to have a “community?”
For me, a community is about human connection, which is an important part of my identity and artistic practice.
What is your studio like?
It’s really colourful and cramped and messy with lots of natural light. It’s full of takeaway containers and magazines, bottles of wine, art books, dead flowers. There is a family of redback spiders that I keep trying to exterminate.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
Looking through art books or a National Geographic. I also listen to podcasts for hours on end while I’m painting and drink a lot of tea and coffee. If I’m feeling introspective I will usually do some writing beforehand.
How significant has attending art school been on your practice?
It was significant in terms of gaining exposure and finding my feet as an emerging artist. I liked spending time in the studio and seeing what my peers were getting up to. I’d say 70% of art school was a waste of time for me personally but there were some pivotal breakthroughs as well.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
Self-doubt, mental health barriers and financial instability.
How would you define “success” in art?
Not sure just yet.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, related to your work?
I love knowing that works of mine are in the homes of people who I admire both personally and creatively.
Are you involved in any collaborative or self-organized projects?
I’ve been apart of a few artist-run group shows which are always fun. They are usually held in alternative spaces like share houses or pop-up shops with live music and a DIY bar.
What are you working on right now?
Paintings!!! I started a new work last week that I’m excited about. It’s set in a brothel and loosely references Tal R’s sex shop series. It’s ambitious in terms of size and layout and I’m having a lot of fun with it.