Patricia’s mixed media collages and mosaic work shows intricate detail and an eye for beauty and colour. You may have seen Patricia’s work on the special koala, Koala Lumpa, at the Observatory Park. Now, Patricia is holding an exhibition entitled Flora Papier at the Sunset Gallery throughout August, with works including flower still life, mixed media collages, hand coloured lino and carved wood block prints …
Hi Patricia. Where did you grow up, and what brought you to Port Macquarie?
I grew up in Perth and my husband and I raised our family in Yanchep, which is 80 km north on the coast. The last four years we spent in WA; we lived in Geraldton at Point Moore near the Lighthouse, which is very beautiful, but our time was spent there during the worst drought in decades.
One of our long held desires was to do a road trip exploring NSW and with all of the children grown, we packed up our pop top van and headed east. It was just amazing to see all the high hills and so much greenery. What was a surfing, pie shop tour rapidly turned into a search for a new home, and six and a half years later we are still amazed at how green and beautiful it is here and how lucky we are.
What study have you done in the field of arts/visual arts?
I have a Bachelor of Visual Arts degree from Edith Cowan Uni in Perth and a Diploma in Education in Middle Years, so that I could teach in both primary and high schools. I was very fortunate to have had great teachers in painting and printmaking at Edith Cowan in Elizabeth Ford and Clive Bastow. Their wonderful skills inspired me to study teaching myself.
I did a range of subjects at uni so that I could have a broad range of expertise. I studied art history and theory, painting, drawing, textiles, printmaking and installation. My favourite was hand coloured wood block printing; the fabulous printing press I preferred to use was from the 1800s.
You often use mixed media to create your art, working with acrylics, oils, watercolours and mosaics. What materials do you most enjoy working with?
As far as favourite processes go, it is a toss up between mosaics and mixed media collage. Mosaics have all that lovely tactile craft and tool skills involved, especially when you make your own tiles, and collage has the intriguing processes of layering, painting and glazing in which you can build up the look and texture into something that is truly your own.
The collage works that I am creating now are an amalgamation of art and craft using my favourite methods from each, collaging, layering, glazing, painting and arranging to achieve the harmony in the picture I am looking to achieve.
You also share your passion for art with others through teaching. What do you find most rewarding about this process?
I enjoy teaching art, especially seeing the creative processes giving students confidence through doing, and the finished pieces give them a taste of success that nothing else but creating something entirely their own can give.
Teaching art also makes you quite disciplined in getting your skills up to a good standard in many areas, so that you can teach those methods properly.
I remember some pretty big gaffs when I first started teaching and did not have the expertise to produce a good example and run the class at the same time. I had to quickly learn how to work and read upside down, so that I could demonstrate. One new teacher boo boo that sticks in my mind was the time I was demonstrating to Year 9 girls how to mix papier mache in a food processor and had not put the top on properly by the time I started the machine. The class and I ended up with soggy mushed up egg carton porridge all over us. My only come back to a stunned audience was, “Would you believe I meant to do that?”
What inspires/motivates you?
What motivates me the most is going to see the work and looking through the catalogues of my favourite artists, such as Vincent van Gogh, Vassily Kandinsky and Georgia O’Keeffe and seeing how their passion, expertise and dedication brought such inspirational works into being. Seeing the actual works is a revelation. I love to read about their lives, with all their challenges and the philosophies that came from those challenges and how today their hard work gives us all so much.
I try to have their examples and words in my head while I am working, especially when I am lacking in confidence and looking for the right pathway. I especially hold onto Vincent’s tenacity and lovely generosity, Georgia’s rule of using only high quality equipment and love of nature, and Kandinsky’s freedom and use of a motif that has a corresponding vibration in the soul.
What art projects have you been involved with locally?
Two wonderful art projects I have been involved with locally are the Hello Koalas Project and helping with the mosaic work done to decorate the Meeting Place outside the Wauchope Arts Hall. My mosaic Koala Lumpa is placed outside the Observatory in Rotary Park, overlooking Town Beach. I love to see how much pleasure he gives, and he certainly has the best view in Port.
You have an upcoming exhibition at Sunset Gallery. What are the exhibition dates?
My exhibition, Flora Papier, in August is at the Sunset Gallery in Murray Street. It opens on Saturday 20th in the evening and is on display ‘til Friday 2nd September. The gallery times are Mon to Fri, 9:30am ‘til 4pm, and Sat 9am to 4pm.
On opening night, I will also be talking about Helping Orphans Worldwide, which is a charity based in Vietnam that looks after children who suffer from the effects of Agent Orange. We have two small statues called Billy and Bess (see Facebook) who are travelling the world promoting the charity.
Describe the works in this exhibition ...
The works I will be displaying in the exhibition are flower still life, mixed media collages and hand coloured lino and carved wood block prints. My influences for these works have come from the Japanese Shibui artistic style, in which the viewer is drawn out through observation to feel the quiet beauty of the piece.
Vincent van Gogh was very much influenced by this discipline, and I am very drawn to his works from his time in Paris on, where he became a great enthusiast of the “Japanese Style” that was then in fashion.
Where can readers see more samples of your work or contact you?
After the exhibition, I will have works available to view at the Sunset Gallery and in the Willow Boutique in Clarence Street. Interested people can contact me on 0435 020 296 or on my Facebook page, Patricia Philp.
Interview by Jo Robinson.