You’ve painted girls eating cupcakes, doughnuts and even getting scared by birds—what’s the idea behind painting girls with these stories? Also, can you please introduce yourself?
I am an emerging artist, having graduated with a Bachelor of Visual Art from Adelaide Central School of Art in 2016.
From Fashion to Feminism, my work examines the connection between ambiguous emotions and the female consumer culture. For my graduate body of work last year, I painted women in the throes of not knowing whether to be anxious about the excesses we desire, or embrace them! The narratives depicted in my paintings hint at darker underlying meanings such as anxiety, obsession, seduction, pleasure and the impossibility of fulfilment. This concept is a reference to the logic – or ‘illogic’ – of female desire in consumer culture. I am interested in the relationship women have with consumption – both literally and metaphorically - so I use metaphors for feminized commodities, such as jewellery, decadent food and other symbolic, self-expressive items concerned with appearance.
What are you working on at the moment? Any big plans coming up?
I am currently working on some new pieces and will be curating an all-female group exhibition for the FRAN Fest (Feminist Renewal Art Network) in Adelaide for September. I was thrilled to be asked to be one of three Star Portrait artists for the Loreto SpringART exhibition. We are all producing a secret portrait of Olympic athlete Jess Trengove and they will be unveiled in September.
Have you been met with any challenges as an artist along the way?
Starting my art career at a later stage in life has been a challenge as there are so many young emerging artists, and I sometimes come across an age bias in this industry. My advantage is that I now have the luxury of being able to put all my time and energy into my art practice.
What does body confidence mean to you? Is it something you’ve ever struggled with and why?
Body confidence to me means not worrying about other people’s opinions. Yes, I have struggled with body confidence, more so in my youth, because of the desire to look like that impossible ideal.
Do you tend to create from personal experience or from observing the experiences of others?
As an artist, I observe and record. I draw on the vast plethora of magazine cues and slogans thrown at women from the fashion and beauty industries that evoke ambivalent emotions. So it is in some way a collective experience, which I fall into.
When it comes to female support – what comes to mind for you? Is it positive or negative?
Mostly positive. I think we should all surround ourselves with genuine, fierce female friends and stand up for each other. The creative world is hard enough for females to flourish, so let’s erase competition and show support.
Your work is very female/body inspired – have you ever struggled with those inspiration and references affecting your body image perception? Do you think social media has played a positive or negative role in your perception?
The media influence encourages women to self-obsess over the most trivial aspects of the way we look. Even though I am attracted to the myriad of fashion images that we see every day, I am trying to address the conflicts that images of fashion and beauty produce by making viewers aware. In my opinion, there’s evidence that there is a current cultural shift with regard to the female body and its objecthood. A lot more young women on social media platforms are embracing ‘realness’. But with this comes the troubling nature of the over-sexualisation of women, as I see some going a bit too far. I’m all for them celebrating their bodies in any way they desire, after all, it is their choice but is it art or soft-porn? I salute the new generation of female photographers though, they are thinking about the female audience and what we want to see.
What’s your favourite part of your body and why?
It would have to be my hair. I have dead-straight hair that I don’t have to do much to. It’s a godsend!
What’s your idea of empowerment?
For me, it begins with gender equality and increasing the spiritual, political and social strength of individuals to develop confidence in themselves.
What message do you have for those who are struggling with body confidence/self-love/weight or appearance issues? – What’s helped you in the past?
Accept who you are, we are all different, and avoid being too critical of yourself. I believe that if we want to stay open to the pleasures, desires, temptations, and fantasy that images of fashion and beauty elicit, young women, should be aware of the false and potentially damaging impact and see them for what they are: a visual, artistic spectacle. I try to remember they have manipulated images and those women don’t even look like that.
As you’ve gotten older – how has your perception of your body and confidence changed?
I think we should embrace our vulnerabilities – not just strengths – and as I have matured, I think perfection expectations are rubbish. I still agonise over beauty rituals, but I no longer obsess over how I look to others.
When painting female figures and personalities – do you take your own body into account?
I work from photographs I have taken of my models and sometimes my compositions are composites, so a few times I have had to use some parts of myself in there!