Lynne Bickhoff’s life turned upside down when she emigrated to Australia as a child with her family. Her experiences and memories, interests and her environment since have all combined to fuel her passion as an artist. She shares her progress.
> You were born in Staffordshire in England. How did you come to live in Port Macquarie?
My family emigrated here when I was 11 years old – against my will, I’d like to add. Landing here from cold, grey England in what was termed an Indian summer … to a child it was paradise! So, a quick reversal of my initial decision to hate the place was made!
I must have combed every inch of the bush at the back of Austinmer (where we lived) and explored all the beaches within a day’s walking distance. So, it was idyllic surroundings. I absorbed all of this on a very personal level, and I think that now some of those feelings and emotions are coming out in my work.
From there I got married and moved to Berrima – again, a very beautiful region. The next 26 years were spent raising six children and being involved in various farming ventures.
I moved to Sydney, then Melbourne, finally ending up in Port Macquarie. I learned to surf with my husband, and it was a passion for a few years, until I picked up a paintbrush.
From then on the surfboard collected dust, and I’m described by everyone as having obsessive compulsive behaviour. My studio is rarely out of use, and if I’m not painting I’ll usually have my head in an art book.
> What do you try and convey in your paintings, and how would you describe your style?
I paint principally for my own enjoyment, and it’s an added bonus if I can evoke a response and a connection with the viewer. I think the fascinating thing with art is how connections can happen between the artist and the audience through the work.
I always try to get across my own emotional response to the subject, and that will come out in how the work is executed. My moods will often dictate what and how I paint. Music is also an important part of the process.
As any artist will agree, once you’re in the ‘zone’, I guess it’s a state that all outside influences are obliterated and you enter into a state where it’s just you and the canvas. This is when the work becomes honest and possesses integrity.
Because of the diversity of my work, I sometimes find it difficult to actually pin a label on my work and working process. I think that as any artist develops and grows, the way that they paint, the work they produce will obviously change also. It’s something that will be inevitable, this change in your work.
I never want to get to a stage where I stop exploring and growing; I think that would be the worst possible scenario for me as an artist. I’m constantly learning and assimilating knowledge and techniques. I don’t want that to change.
If I’m really pressed I guess you could label me with the Fauvist style, because of my bold use of colour and strong mark making.
> Where does the inspiration for your work come from?
Memories from places I’ve lived, feelings and emotions (which everyone has, of course) which are a culmination of all of your life experiences. My life has been very diverse, and I think that my work reflects that.
The environment that I’m in has always had a strong influence. Having worked on the land has meant that my connections to it are very solid and valid. I remember standing once in one of our paddocks and surveying the land that we owned at the time and feeling such a sense of belonging that it was overwhelming.
At the same time, I’m also aware that the earth belongs to us all without boundaries, and we all have a responsibility to care for it regardless of ownership.
I’m drawn also to strong colours – particularly enjoying seeing complementary colours and the relationship that they have with each other. A landscape that has not only the subtleties of colour but also strong contrasts will draw me in and seduce me.
Another strong influence is the beauty of the figure. The sensuous lines and forms make me immediately want to get out a stick of charcoal and start making marks to describe in a graceful way what I’m seeing.
> What medium do you use for your artworks?
I continually experiment with mediums to see how they react to each other. Many optical effects are possible by the overlaying of a variety of media. Sometimes, just the different applications will create diverse effects.
I was recently down in Sydney viewing the 17th Biennale and came across some extraordinarily large works of Dale Franks, and I felt an immediate connection to them. I realised that what I’d previously done with various mediums and yuppo paper (a type of photographic paper) was exactly what he was achieving, only on a larger scale.
I find using mixed media (the principal combination of media I use) means that you can obtain a textural surface that is wonderful to work with.
I might start with impasto, gauze, paper, cardboard, whatever comes into my head, and these are then applied to create texture. From there I employ acrylic, inks, dyes, oil sticks, charcoal, varnishes etc. Again, each media seems to depend on the individual work.
My figurative work is mainly completed in oils. It all depends on the subject, as each work will require a different effect to convey the feeling that I’m hoping to achieve.
> What are your current projects?
I’m currently completing a Diploma of Fine Arts, which is stretching my abilities and exposing me to many different influences.
I’m also involved in the Hastings Art Trail, which is an initiative of 12 artists in our region who have opened up their studios to promote the arts in our area.
Another initiative is an involvement with two other artists in our area – Yvonne Keily and Sam Clark. We’ve combined to create a group entitled Art to the Power3.
Apart from that is my own personal work, of which I will usually have between three to six pieces on the go at any one time. The drying times of the media will determine when I can continue to develop them. When I commence a pour, for instance, it will be some days before the first layer has dried enough to build up another layer.
I usually like to work on a large scale, and currently I’m working on a canvas which is reflecting the energy and visual impact that I absorbed from visiting the Biennale. Often I won’t have a specific subject in mind when I commence the work, but I react to the marks on the canvas and respond appropriately.
Works often seem to take on a persona of their own and guide me in a certain direction.
> Where can readers view and purchase your work?
Currently I have work on display at the Sunset Gallery, cnr of Murray and Clarence Sts, Port Macquarie, Long Point Winery Gallery, Lake Cathie and Mystic Blue in Horton St, Port Macquarie.
As part of the Hastings Art Trail, my own Bickhoff Impressions Gallery & Studio at 2 Daintree Lane is open to the public, and of course, any exhibitions which we organise.
I’m involved in the Boudoirs Exhibition organised by Veronique Bosshard, at the present time being held at Quality Resort Sails.
The first Sunday of each month you’ll find me at the Artist Market, which is held in the Maritime Museum grounds here in Port.
Also online at www.lbimpressions.com.au
> Thank you Lynne.