This Saturday will see the first Sydney solo exhibition by Holly Fewson. We caught up with her to ask her a few questions about her new work and inspiration.
Tell us a little bit about your personal and creative background and how you arrived at some of the themes for your new exhibition.
I moved to Sydney from Perth the week after I graduated high school and stayed. I studied at the National Art School and have always been a 'drawer' - my painting practice has naturally evolved from that. The themes for my exhibition are all super female and personal and my creative background is similar. My own drama and explicit experiences have lead me to create more casual images for this series. I have been gentler with my approach to representing womanhood and sensuality than I have been in the past. It's about manifestation.
The convent is an interesting metaphor for the female experience, what is your perspective on religion and the structures it sets up?
I am not big on religion and its dogma. Religious institutions notoriously suppress sexuality and general human liberties. I like the idea of a community getting together to discuss philosophy and sing weekly but the reality of the thing is not as cute and simple as it ought to be. I guess the glamour and the virtuous facade of religion parallels expectations of women in a lot of ways. I care deeply about morality and have found myself considered deeply immoral. The whole tip is a paradox.
Describe your studio/art-making environment.
I painted this series over the last two months in my fathers shed. I made make shift easels and worked on all of them at once with a tin of white house paint and some charcoal that I kept stepping on. It wasn't tidy. I listened to Elvis, Electric Wizard and Gamelan.
In this series you've used mostly mixed media on board, what is your art-making process?
My process is automatic. I usually begin with a figure, I will paint a face and build a gesture that rolls with the emotion of their features. I bounce off of the face for the whole image and it usually defines the circumstance I imagine later upon completion. I don't begin with an idea. It's just a series of reactions to what I have already put down. I dress them like dolls and paint faces like youtube makeup artists contour. I will use charcoal like a pen when I am confused. I feel more confident with a powerful line or two.
Which artists, alive or dead, have inspired your art practice?
Botticelli, Bjork, Beyonce, Romaine Brooks and Jenny Saville. Street artists like Fafi and Miss Van meant a lot to me when I first started drawing women in my teens. Jodee Knowles and Anthony Lister. Frida Kahlo is my number one, Cezanne's portraiture work, also Klimt, Sheile and Kokoshka.
What do you have coming up in the near future?
So many things. Probs heading to Los Angeles next month. I want to make some real rustic frames before Christmas in sets of four. I will do some some excessively proportioned pieces next. I feel like I have got nuns out of my system now. I'm real excited about what coming up, I'm ready to do some bigger shows.
Holier Than Thou opens Saturday July 25th from 4-6pm,
Blank Space Gallery, 374 Crown St, Surry Hills
Exhibition continues until August 1st.