Interiors / Living

Corridor Chats – Artist talk on the spaces that fortify them

Artists Holly Greenwood, Ondine Seabrook and Bronte Leighton-Dore on the spaces that fortify them.

Deep friendship and creative connection, cemented in a mutual admiration for each other’s work from many moons ago underlies the relationship between Sydney painters Holly Greenwood, Ondine Seabrook and Bronte Leighton-Dore.

Holly, who is represented by Olsen Gallery (and just by the way, the daughter of Hugo Weaving), Ondine, a National Art School graduate now showing work with the progressive China Heights Gallery, and Bronte, an artist at Martin Browne Contemporary/Edwina Corlette Gallery and a Wynne Prize finalist, share a space above bustling Oxford Street in Sydney’s Paddington. 

Full of morning light, good energy and beautiful paintings, I made a visit to their shared space to see the bodies of work they are each currently creating. The result of a trip the three artists recently took to regional New South Wales to work en plein air, the works reflect the moments they shared whilst camping, cooking damper and documenting their journey together.

Being in their shared space and witnessing their natural and organic friendship is a gentle reminder that working with your friends is a gift, and to enjoy each chapter of life as is, whether we plan it or not. Life moves fast and things change, time is fleeting. As is the case for these artists as they embark on finding a new studio space; a result of the building being developed in the new year.

 

Bronte Leighton-Dore

I chose painting because … It was a natural extension from drawing. 

The space I create my works in feels ... Light and warm. 

I feel most creatively inspired when … I least expect it, or I’m surrounded by the bush. 

I am a big believer in … Turning up, over and over again. 

My greatest inspiration is … Nature – inside and out. 

 

I am a big believer in … Turning up, over and over again.

My new show is … At Edwina Corlette Gallery in Brisbane. The show is based on a recent trip I did with Holly Greenwood and Ondine Seabrook to Broken Hill. 

My favourite gallery is … There are so many good ones and so many I haven’t seen. The Louvre, The Tate Modern, Hamburger Bahnhof, Musee Marmottan Monet, Joan Miro Foundation in Barcelona. Then, Art Gallery of NSW of course and the smaller independent galleries like Stepping into Tomorrow and Coma in Sydney. 

 

I feel most creatively inspired when … I least expect it, or I’m surrounded by the bush.

My favourite trinket in my studio space is … My grandmother’s tiny crystal vase. 

My day in the studio usually looks like … A coffee and reading downstairs at Pusher, then getting stuck into some painting or drawing either from life or from studies. Lunch from the window overlooking Oxford Street or at one of the many local lunch spots such as South Dowling Sandwiches. Then back into the studio finishing up around three or four. But one is always looking and thinking. The time outside the studio can be just as important. 

Home is where I … Sleep, read, relax and reset. 

Holly Greenwood

I make … Work inspired by the Australian landscape and way of life. From the bush to pub carpets, I’m continuously drawn to the mundanity of our day to day lives. Places that are often forgotten or fading from our lives. Capturing a moment in time. 

My first memories of painting are … With my mum, a talented painter herself. She introduced me to painting at a very early age. I immediately would go into another world discovering my own voice through art. We had a studio out the back of my house which was always abundant with paints and materials. A place where my love for creativity grew. 

My latest body of work is … Inspired by my recent trip to Broken Hill and Mutawintji National Park alongside two fellow studio artists. From the studies I did on-site and reference photos, I have painted a series of large landscapes rich and bold with colour. This series will be on show at James Makin Gallery in Melbourne, opening on November 20th.

I know I make my best work when … I’m excited and inspired. I always have to continuously come back to why I do what I do and trust the path that feels authentically right. This can be a constant battle but incredibly essential as an artist. Some of my best work is when there is no external pressure but a strong internal drive to create. Being in the bush definitely rejuvenates and stimulates my mind. 

She introduced me to painting at a very early age. I immediately would go into another world discovering my own voice through art.

My favourite way to work is ... Starting on numerous paintings at one time so I become immersed in that world. It gives each work breathing space and time to avoid being tight and flat. Listening to all types of music from Bach to Kurt Vile, dancing around and getting the paint moving.

My studio is my … Mind. The good and the bad. It is where I have felt all emotions. Ultimately, it is the most important place as it is where my creations evolve. I’ve been so lucky to also be a part of a community of artists. Surrounded by likeminded supportive creatives and dear friends has helped my career enormously. Being a painter is a very solitude career so staying connected is vital for my well-being. 

Painting is … A personal expression. Taking an idea, a feeling, a place and translating that into paint. It’s a language. One I’m continuously learning from.

 

 

A typical day in the studio looks like ... Coffee and morning chats with the other artists then going into my studio and having a brief moment to pause and sit still. Music comes on, I start mixing paint and before I know it, I’m working away. I will have a couple of breaks in the day and more corridor chats. The afternoon is usually where I do my best work as I’ve warmed up from the morning. I’ll usually end the day with a drink with someone in the studio or head to the beach for an evening swim. 

Sharing a studio space has taught me ... To be more open about my work and process. I used to be quite introverted when it came to allowing people into my studio space. I have found it has helped me with my work and confidence.

 

Ondine Seabrook

I am most productive in my space when I … Have done the things I need to do that make me feel good outside of my space; like doing laps in the morning with some friends. Simple things like this are a huge key to making good work and something I’ve gradually gotten better at figuring out. 

My soundtrack in the studio consists of … A huge range, some of which I don’t wish to disclose. Recently I have been listening to this NTS mix called A Fake Trip to Fake Hawaii, whilst painting my Lord Howe Island works because it transports me back there. I feel like the title is very appropriate (despite being different places) because I’m in Darlinghurst pretending to be on Lord Howe Island. 

My favourite part of 2020 has been … My road trip to Broken Hill with Holly and Bronte. It was insane and rather spontaneous – a great combination of exploring the town’s old pubs and second-hand stores filled with vintage gems, spending time outside camping and painting. Plus, we just had the best dynamic between us. 

I started painting when … Professionally I started exhibiting when I was 18 and was represented by China Heights quite shortly after finishing art school. But really it all began when I was about three. I’ve just always loved it and never stopped. 

If 2020 was a song it would beI Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor. That’s definitely the first thing that popped into my head. What a crazy year. 

 

 

My dream studio space looks like … The one I’m in right now. On the corner of Oxford and South Dowling with the best crew. Except I wish Don Pepinos, (the best restaurant ever), were still upstairs.

Sharing a space with my peers allows me to … Not get totally locked up in my own head (which is already a challenge in the studio.) More importantly, instead of just talking about our work we talk about basically everything; always checking-in with each other, having a good laugh and helping each other through the process. I don’t know what I’d do without my studio mates.

My studio is my … Palace, sanctuary, zone. Sometimes it can be very good and other times it can be really challenging.

 

 

My creative idols are … Matilda Kubany-Deane.

The furniture in my studio is … Covered in paint. I love the little accidental marks on my chairs that have built up over the years and come to different studios with me. It’s like a history of the works I’ve made. I’m extremely attached to this one armchair that I’ve spent hours pondering in. I generally have lots of very sentimental objects in my studio.

Next year I am excited to … Have my next solo show at China Heights in April. It has been pushed back because of COVID but I feel like that extra time is going to make the body of work more special and I’m really excited to share it with everyone. 

 

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