Australian mixed media artist
3 June 2023
I was born in Australia in 1973 and grew up in Melbourne until my late 20’s. Over the past 21 years (has it really been that long?!!!!) I have had the privilege of living in Portugal, Kenya, Oman, Germany and now China. These diverse cultural experiences and environments have been a constant source of inspiration for my work, and have greatly influenced my artistic style and subject matter.
I studied Visual Arts in Melbourne, Australia with a major in sculpture and also have a Bachelor of Education, which led me to teach secondary school art. I also worked for an event/art installation company and independently as an artist until my husband and I moved overseas to teach in Portugal in 2002.
I thrive on variety and exploring new media. Over the years this has been very much influenced by my location – access to materials, tools, and studio space as we have moved around the world. I often combine different materials and work on varied surfaces, with multiple pieces in progress at the same time, allowing me the flexibility to switch between work depending on the process limitations (drying time etc.) and what I’m in the mood for.
I am captivated by the ebb and flow in ecospheres, creating work that is in a state of flux by exploring mediums that have an altered appearance when viewed from different angles.
Recent explorations have been with ink and watercolour on canvas, paper and wooden panels. I am fascinated by the natural formation of the media on different surfaces, allowing the colours to puddle and form naturally and then working to enhance certain areas with various layers. I am also exploring a mixture of 2D and 3D art forms utilising layers and negative space. I am mesmerised by how the work changes and creates shadows in different light.
My current work is mostly about the representation or suggestion of landscapes – it's more internal, emotional and metaphysical than actual visual responses to what I see before me.
I have been working on two series the past couple of years:
“Meditative Circles” are ink and acrylic investigations into water surfaces, cells and cross-sections of plants with their intricate patterns and forms.
“Earthscapes” are squares of watercolour mounted onto wooden panels which explore the various surfaces of the Earth and its atmosphere from above.
My husband works in education and we have moved around for his job in international schools. We have two children - our daughter is 16 and our son is 14. Our daughter was born in Portugal and when she was one month old we moved to Kenya. I was a few months pregnant with our son when we left abruptly in 2007 due to political trouble and when it became dangerous in Nairobi. He was born in Melbourne and when he was 3 weeks old, we moved to Oman….my husband and I like a challenge I guess!!!
I don’t really like the term “trailing spouse” as it kind of negates my contribution and value, but ultimately, we selected each of our locations together. We have had to adapt to new environments with our children and learnt to navigate these changes and challenges as a family. We have had some incredible experiences living overseas and as our kids get older, they appreciate the vast exposure to the world that they have already had. It has been difficult to bring up our kids without the support network of family around – especially for our parents not seeing their grandkids grow up as they would have if we had still been living in Australia.
I have a wonderful studio at home where I have natural light, fresh air, space and a beautiful view, so I spend a lot of my time there and find it incredibly inspiring.
Now that my children are older and more independent, I have a lot more time for my art than in previous years. The big gap in my exhibitions is very much representative of the period where I was more involved in their daily routines.
I am more prolific now than I have ever been and spend most of my day in my studio. I try to organise my time so that I have variety in the day - not just creating artwork, but also working on ideas, experimenting, researching, updating my website, online gallery profiles, answering emails, posting on social media, planning workshops etc.
"For me it is important that my kids see that I contribute to our family and society with something that I am passionate about."
Having moved around a lot I have not had much of an art circle around me. In each new country I have had to re-establish myself by reaching out to galleries, businesses, schools, hotels etc. to set up exhibitions, connections and to create opportunities. I have developed a lot of confidence with this over the years and whilst it is hard to have to keep doing this, it does allow me to present fresh ideas and reach new audiences.
I am currently part of a female artist’s network on WeChat where we share achievements and struggles with our art and offer each other support virtually. I have managed to meet up with a couple of these ladies in person but given that we all live in different cities it’s not a regular thing.
Being an artist is very solitary and as an introvert, I am quite ok with that! We currently live on a boarding school campus, and I occasionally teach art workshops in and outside of the school which provide opportunities to collaborate. I find that it is quite a good mix for the moment.
Because we are a small family in unfamiliar environments, we have spent a lot of time together, so I feel that I have been a very present mother for my kids. When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and cousins but my kids haven’t had that – I definitely feel guilty about this aspect of choosing to live and bring up a family overseas.
From time to time I feel a certain degree of guilt if I have days where I don’t feel like I have achieved much in my studio. I am very fortunate that I am able to do what I love on a daily basis and as such feel driven to achieve and in a sense, justify my work.
For me it is important that my kids see that I contribute to our family and society with something that I am passionate about. I have always been very creative with them, and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity and luxury of being able to stay at home with them in their early years.
I was foremost a mum for many years, but always managed to carve out time and space for my artwork. My work has very strong environmental themes and content and this viewpoint is something that I am proud my children have taken on. Both kids are very creative and show an interest in my work. Now that they are older and quite talented themselves, we exchange ideas and give each other suggestions for our artwork.
"Not so many years ago I feel that artists who were also mothers were considered hobby artists, but I think that with social media, online galleries and so many digital tools at our fingertips to create art businesses and market our work, things have dramatically changed for female artists."
Being an artist, my contribution to our family income is sporadic. Over the years I have had exhibitions where I sell a lot of work, commissions, and other projects. I have also taught art and run workshops in most of the countries we have lived in to supplement my income. But there have also been periods where my income was sparse or non-existent. I find these phases frustrating, but I know that it fluctuates, and I always have something in the pipeline so I know that it is only a matter of time.
Over the past few years (perhaps it’s because I am fast approaching the big five-O??!!!) I have been more determined and proactive with marketing my work and creating opportunities – whether that be for setting up exhibitions or collaborations with hotels, spas, or businesses. I find great joy in creating work that is tailored to specific spaces and clients, as it allows me to add value, beauty and atmosphere to their environment.
Not so many years ago I feel that artists who were also mothers were considered hobby artists, but I think that with social media, online galleries and so many digital tools at our fingertips to create art businesses and market our work, things have dramatically changed for female artists. Much of this work can be done at home whilst kids are still young, so it has opened up vast opportunities.
My mum is a first generation Australian. Her parents immigrated to Australia in the 1950’s from Europe and met on the ship over! The family worked hard to establish themselves in Melbourne and spent their whole lives there. For my mum it was difficult because she had to abide by strict family and cultural rules whist also trying to assimilate into the Australian culture.
Many women were pursuing careers in the 70’s with new freedoms available to them to be whatever they wanted to be. My mum was expected to work a little while and marry young – which she did, then she had me when she was 21. Mum and Dad agreed that she would stay at home while my sister and I were young and Dad worked 2 jobs until my sister and I went to school. My mum then went back to work with flexible hours so she was still able to be at home for us when we were there.
For me, art is a place to pause – a place to linger in that space where whispers and thoughts can unfold and be heard.
It’s a way to be connected to the present moment, much like meditation. I love to share that with people who view my artwork or take part in my workshops.
From sweeping landscapes and wispy cloudscapes to microscopic details and figurative harmonies, my work depicts not only the beauty of the natural environment but also draws attention to its fragility and deterioration.
My work captures the fragile beauty of nature and draws attention to elements that need protection and regeneration. It urges the viewer to observe the interconnectedness of humans and our planet on the scale from the microscopic to the larger overview, reminding us of our profound need to connect with nature and to ensure it has a greater part in our everyday lives.
I am currently working with a cosmetics/skincare company that is featuring my artwork on their product and packaging. We also plan to collaborate on more products in the future.
I have worked with hotels and spas to create work which enhances the mood of the spaces by bringing nature inside. I would love to do more of these commissions in similar public and private settings and on a larger scale.
Another idea I have been pondering and would like to pursue is to create art and yoga retreats at our home in Portugal – an experience where participants can learn to create art in nature and nourish their creative spirit, body and soul whilst having the opportunity to explore the spectacular Algarve region.
Links with articles, publications, etc.: https://linktr.ee/dartemisia