Desire Lines

Presented by Short St Gallery at Stackwood Studios, 10 Stack Street, Fremantle, WA.

3rd-9th March  10am-3pm

This work is not about lock-down but is born out of the experience and realisations of a time spent in pause. Time became slippery and all the habits that reflect back to us our sense of self were dismantled or reimagined.

Rather than mourning the lack of far-flung adventures, I felt an emptiness in my loss of daily connections. Moments I relied upon to know myself. Life confined made me realise how precious the most everyday happenings were. Buying a coffee on my way to work, random conversations, and the streets I walked daily to my studio.

This time changed how I approached my painting. My studio moved home, a smaller space, interrupted by the movements of my family. I found working in watercolours was the most appropriate medium. I was happy to work small and liked the freshness and simplicity of the
palette. The slow pace of life naturally suited the patient approach of layering the wet colour.

I started a postcard project on Instagram as a way of reaching out. Daily watercolours were posted up at the end of each week, and the best title suggestion won! I then posted the card off into the world, bridging distance and making contact despite restrictions: Combining new and old ways of correspondence.

In my daily paintings, my interest was drawn to repeated motifs that I found in our home, the garden, precious ornaments and abstracted shapes from the views from our house. Imagery distilled down through repetition. Maybe the lack of human interaction led to the disappearance of figures in my work, but I think I had already started that shift, before COVID. I think lockdown was a hothouse to grow these new abstract shoots of creative exploration.

This work is about people and connection, as well as simplicity and gratitude for everyday happenings. How we know ourselves through the people around us. The preciousness of loved ones, the thrill of chance encounters, people you see daily but don’t know their names. Our habitual goat paths – or desire lines – become the grooves by which we navigate our daily lives. There is a sense of communing with creativity that I feel about this work, channelling the simplest of intentions and seeing where it leads. Using an abstract language of personal motifs and found shapes, I see these works as conversations; an abstract language conversing inwardly and outwardly. There is space for the viewer to be invited in to play, explore and interpret.

I have found a simpler more stripped-back approach. The process is patient and meditative, I can’t rush them. And although I still head into each canvas with no clear path, I have to take my time as the raw canvas leaves little room for adjustment. This has been a wonderful addition to the work and has provided a practice that feels more freeing than you might imagine. Instead of making me more tentative, it has made me more confident and trusting of my artistic voice.