DONNA MALONE INTERVIEW:
Can you tell me a little bit about your background, where you grew up, and how you started on your art journey?
I was born in 1961 and grew up on the northern beaches of Sydney. The first place I lived was Avalon. One of my first memories was trying to reach the koalas high up in the big gum trees in the back yard. I spent a lot of time at the beach and later in the bush near Middle Harbour where I connected to the sandstone cliffs, caves, secret waterfalls, bush and the creatures hiding within. We were also lucky to have a ‘farm’ (investment property) on the mid north NSW coast where my family spent most school holidays. The five of us kids would roam freely for hours. I loved collecting rocks and bones, sticks and lizards. I had a nature table but nobody else was too interested. When not running amok outdoors you would find me drawing alone in my room. I would say these endeavours started my art journey.
What were your early influences, and how do they inform your current work?
My father took a great interest in my drawings from a young age. I would draw his album covers - Miles Davis, Nina Simone. He enjoyed jazz, photography, travelling and collecting from around the world. He was away a lot and would send me postcards. He was fascinated with Japan and visited there several times in the 60’s. Our new house in the suburbs was even designed quasi Japanese style. I don’t think it would be hard to see my father’s interests reflected in my art work.
School was a blur. I remember doing a lot of staring out the window and doodling faces in my exercise books.
When I was 14 we all went to England to live for 18 months and it was in London that I went to my first art gallery - The Tate and visited a life drawing class at Slade Art School! I was taken there by the wife of a business associate of my father. I can’t remember her name but she was the first person, apart from my father, to somehow recognize me as an artist and open my eyes to the possibility.
What mediums do you work with, and how would you describe your current Art practice?
I love paper, all papers - from packaging to expensive handmade French or Japanese milled papers. I am compelled to pull the layers apart and put back again together…I use all mediums on the papers experimentally and usually in a layered way. I like using mediums that have been sourced in unusual ways…any way except pilfered of course!
Where are you currently located?
My studio is situated in Brisbane and I have strong connections to the northern rivers region of NSW where I visit frequently. My art representation of 12 years, Studio 87, directed by Lorraine Pilgrim, is situated on the Gold Coast.
I work prolifically in almost any environment…
I have done art tours/workshops/residencies in NYC, Rajasthan, Venice, South of France, Barcelona, Bruny Island, Rural Western Australia, Central Australia, Western Queensland, Jervis Bay, Walcha, NSW and Paris. All these amazing experiences have grown my capacity to work longer and more lucidly.
How would you describe the Art community in your current city?
I am lucky to have close art friends nearby to draw with en plein air and go on art adventures overseas or interstate with. I am also fortunate to be situated only 15 mins by train to QAG/GOMA. In Brisbane now there is an excitement in the air with art co-ops, pop ups and showcases springing up in the inner city and outer suburbs.
How does it compare to other places you have lived and worked?
I keep returning to the magnetic energy of the Far Nth coast NSW. The people, the natural environment and the culture inspires me greatly.
What are some of the ways that you find creative opportunities to become involved in?
Facebook, Instagram, drawing groups, en plein air groups, art openings.
I have close friends that are university trained who generously invite me to be involved with their projects. I am also fast realizing that I need to create my own opportunities. This year I have begun teaching in my studio which has been surprisingly rewarding.
What creative projects and opportunities are you looking forward to in 2018?
I am wanting to create a series of curated shows working with various artists and venues with the theme of drawing in nature as well as continuing to give art classes.
I am also trusting that I will find myself in a bigger studio!