Take us back to the start of your artistic career – what was the key thing that first sparked your interest in art and design?
From since I can remember I was always interested in making things – cutting things up, painting, playing with coloured water, sending hand-made cards to my family. In high school I started buying black and white photographic books and magazines and I had an amazing art teacher who would share her personal works with me and tell me about the galleries she would visit and her love of Brett Whiteley. I would skip Biology classes and sneak in to the art rooms to spend an extra 45 minutes on my paintings.
What drew you towards mixed media and photography as your key outlets?
It’s just a natural expression for me and what I am attracted too. I love the mix and the fact that it’s like a puzzle – using layers and being able to move things around until you get it just right. It allows me to do everything – paint, cut, build still life sets, use 3D elements, draw, add text, use texture, experiment with colours or filters or reflection and find a way to make it all come together.
We are very excited to check out your collaboration with Westfield Chermside! When you agree to an exhibition of this size, what is the first step you take in planning it?
The first steps were to review the large proportions of the spaces I had been given to use. It was such an exciting and dynamic space but I also wanted the quality of my work to not be diluted at that scale. The total floor plan layout, the interior colour and materials scheme as well as the journey of my works were all important first steps before any new works were created. It takes a lot of planning and consideration to envision up to the final layer of 3D elements before even beginning the artworks. It helped to print out all the plans and artworks in proportion and do layouts on the floor so I could physically move things around like a puzzle in front of me.
Can you give us any hints as to how the exhibition will take shape?
The exhibition will have the beautiful feel of an intimate timeline where viewers can experience past works that are familiar, alongside dynamic new pieces – taking everyone on a journey of progression and growth through my art. The works will be invigorating and enveloping at that size – allowing you to see, feel and fall into the images using both scale and 3D elements to highlight key themes and ideas.
What concepts have you drawn upon as inspiration for this project?
I’ve drawn upon my ideas of beauty, desire, love, glamour, confidence, strength, uniqueness, pride and letting your emotions talk and come to the surface. I like the idea that the images are an orgy of simplicity where one can see the pretty surface and enjoy it or delve further in and a read more of the story just like with any human interaction or meeting. I’m exploring how we form friendships or relationships, who we are drawn to, who makes us open-up, who in our life we can only be surface with. Each image will have a different trigger from one person to the next, but the images are beautiful compilations and arrangements of initial attraction and desire that we are so well-trained to see and take on.
The worlds of fashion and art have an almost symbiotic relationship. In what ways do the two intersect in your work?
Fashion is another form of art. It uses colour, texture, composition to create an image, drawing on allure and desire to evoke an emotional response. Fashion is a huge influence on me as a woman and as an artist – both the garments and the vehicle of magazines and boutiques that are used to sell or display. For women especially – fashion shapes our whole confidence, body image and our complete external persona from when we are very young, so I find it is often a reference point for me to create my works. The fact that the images of fashion all hold such emotion and recognition for us too in our culture, more so than an artwork might, gives my messages a relatable strength and place.
What concepts and ideas do you particularly enjoy exploring through artistic expression?
I love exploring the concept that beauty is only skin deep – that we shouldn’t keep our voices hidden and that love and self-love begins on the inside and have no relevance to the exterior. I want to explore the idea that it is ok to enjoy beauty to love beautiful things but to also find the beauty in the unexpected, in someone opening themselves up, in a dark corner, in a thrown away package or a piece of rubbish that might be beautiful for its washed out colour – if nothing else.
Are there any aspects of the world around you that you would love to reinterpret through art, but are yet to do so?
Absolutely! I have so many ideas that I hope to be able to experiment with and delve into – from new materials, or using traditional material in a new light. Using the found and pre-existing worlds is always inspiring as I love to give things a new light or a new message. The more I find, the more I want to transform and create. I am always on the hunt – I guess I want to be able to have to space to bring home larger pieces and create things from there, like a car door or to transform a whole room into an artwork. I also photograph women and love to expose in them a new confidence and form, for them to see themselves in a different light. But over time I would like to see these women open up more and reveal more about not just their external image but the fascination of who they are inside
What do you love the most about your job?
I love working on my own and the zen like solitude. I love the rush of being able to have an idea and just drop everything and make it happen without too much restriction. I love the hunt and the gather. I love the inspiration and rush I get from discovering other artists. And I love to see a new work straight off the printer, it’s always such a thrill.
Image credit: Akila Berjaoui