5 questions with Lucinda Chambers
Get to know the artist.
Koskela Gallery is thrilled to be showing Flower Face, an exhibition of recent botanical paintings by Lucinda Chambers. Her paintings invite us to lie in bewitching gardens and contemplate the beauty and impermanence of life and the natural world.
Chambers grew up next to the bush in Sydney. This gave her an early appreciation and love for nature. Today, her studio is above a garage looking down into pocket-sized gardens. She dreams of a garden in the country with a big tin shed for a studio.
Ahead of her exhibition opening on Saturday, 11th May, we caught up with the artist to get an insight into her creative process.
1. What was your path to becoming the artist you are today?
I knew I would be an artist for as long as I can remember and when I was little, I was always busy – drawing, painting, making and collecting. I was lucky enough to grow up in several houses which backed onto bush. I always had the freedom to roam and explore and learned all sorts of important things such as where the best Mulberry tree was and where the bowerbird built his nest each year. We lived near a huge old private garden and I used to break in through the fence. It was our own secret garden and I’d pick flowers and carry them home in the husk of a giant bamboo. All of this was honing an eye for detail and learning an appreciation and love of nature. I like to look closely into structure, pattern and colour, at birds, insects, lines of ants, spiders’ webs, halos of light, colours in clouds and night skies and being quiet, and then trying to fix these sensations, these visual thrills – paint them and keep them.
2. You are a mum to two girls. How do you balance your career and motherhood?
At times it can be challenging. It wasn’t really possible to paint when they were little and I chose to be a stay-at-home mother, so I had a few slow years with my painting. However, it was wonderful to revisit fairy tales and children’s book illustrators such as Maurice Sendak, Arthur Rackham and Ida Rentoul Outhwaite and to return to the world of imagination. I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to teach my children to be gentle and to look and most importantly to see - because this is the vital part of being an artist. It has become easier now that they’re more grown up and, in fact, my girls have become great critics of my work and are shaping up as excellent drawers and makers and artists themselves. They love being part of the process of my painting and are excited about the exhibition.
3. What part of your art practice brings you the most joy?
It’s the magic-like experience of image-making and the feeling that everything around you - seen, read, heard - is drawn into the work and makes sense for a moment. All of these things are like little keys coming together to form up the work and that gives me a sense of wholeness. I love long afternoons in the studio with the sun streaming in, music or podcast in the background and images forming up; time at last seems suspended. I also love my weekly life-drawing class with a tea break at half-time to chat with other artists. It is a joy that what I make can resonate with others so that they may want to have it and look at it all the time.
4. What influences your work?
I have lots of influences swirling around in my head - nature, details, colour, light, plants and flowers seen and imagined, ancient stories of gods, Pan and Flora, bits of fairytales and writings and creations from brilliant and clever people. These all mingle with news and stories that come into the studio from the radio. I love visits to gardens and talking about plants with my husband who is a landscape designer.
5. What is the theme for your show at Koskela?
My show is called Flower Face. The flowers gaze out from my paintings with their centres like eyes, seemingly addressing the viewer to try to prompt a sense of compassion and understanding. My work may be seen as a momento mori, magically coloured in high contrast Australian light. I want my paintings to invite the viewer to contemplate the beauty and impermanence of life and the natural world.