Art raises questions and best of all, starts conversations. Earlier in the year we unearthed some amazing artists in our very first BILLET-DOUX Postcard Prize exhibition at Creators Artspace. We selected a series of artworks to showcase what we aspire to do here at Murray Arts – to #createaconversation about the arts in our community. Chontelle Bourne's 'Seed' 2015 film & digital print, became one of our hero images printed onto freely available postcards and 'Lineage' from the series Other Peoples' Lives, 2016 digital print, won the Jennifer Bowskill Award – in this year's MAMA Albury Art Prize.
A Murray Experience: What do you love most about living and working in the Murray region?
The access we have in our region to a huge variety of art forms, artists and galleries is amazing. The art community here is diverse. Inspiration is easier to take hold of when you have other artists around you to bounce ideas off. Learning from other artists, particularly about their unique process, taking ideas and developing them and how that translates into art is always an inspiration.
The landscape here is equally diverse and inspiring: the river, the mountains, the plains stretching westward and how they change with the seasons. This time of year, when the weather is mild, energies are expanding, hay is being cut, the wildflowers are at their peak, and the dawn chorus is the loudest gets my creative juices flowing. I specialised in botany at university so plants, especially plants of this region, hold a special place in my heart. Besides, they are patient subjects.
What themes do you like to explore in your art?
The images I create evolve in an organic way. I don't tend to pick a theme or idea and work with it. Images come to mind and I work at re-creating them. The process takes the lead and the theme develops in tandem, never really finalised or polished until I have a body of work that is congruent. It is only then that I can stand back and say "ah, so that was the underlying theme or idea behind the work." I do find that where I stand at any given moment, my life as it is then and there, informs my creative process.
The Art Life: What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on getting back into analogue photography. There is something so fundamental and satisfying about film, printing, paper, using my hands to create an image, rather than staring at a screen.
What are your top three tips for someone thinking of a career in arts?
Keep working, always working at it. Even if this means sitting with ideas for long periods of time, allowing them to gestate. Sometimes there will be patches when inspiration flags. Know that this is ok, it is all part of the creative process.
Get out there! Visit galleries, go to openings, and connect with other artists. Put yourself and your work out there. Putting yourself and your artwork out there can at times leave you feeling vulnerable but there is courage and strength in vulnerability. The rewards are tremendous.
What would be your dream project?
Oh, gosh. For me I don't think it's so much about one dream project because any project that is inspiring is a dream come to fruition. Rather it's about being able to sustain my family financially by doing something that I love, something that
Image credit: Chontelle Bourne 'Lineage' from the series Other Peoples' Lives 2016 Digital Print