Currie is a FANTASTIC artist, currently working in Australia. Her art of fragmenting and abstracting the human form through geometric and colour blocking as well as her striking compositions made me fall in love with her practice.
“I mainly use painting as a way of contemplating myself and my experiences. My work is quite introspective and evolved at the beginning of my recovery from a 10+ year struggle with disordered eating and body dysmorphia. Painting the female form over and over has been like therapy for me, as I get used to my changing body and learn how to shift my mindset.”
When discussing her colour palette, Currie said:
“In the past I’ve mostly been inspired by the seasons. In summer I would generally use brighter, more pastel tones. In winter I would gravitate toward orange and olive green and deep blues. But lately I’ve been sticking to a palette of blues, deep reds, dusty pinks, warm browns, terracottas and sandy beiges. I’m not sure why, but I keep being coming back to that same palette recently.”
We discuss artist essentials, the strange world of Instagram, the power of artwork and more.
Emma, how would you describe your practice in 3 words?
Flowing, figurative, structured
If you could have dinner with any artist from any time, what would the meal be, and who would it be with? Why?
I’d love to have a pub meal with Pheobe Waller-Bridges. Maybe an odd choice for a painter but I feel like it would be really fun and super inspiring.
I totally get that - great choice! She would be amazing. Tell me your artist story. How did you get to where you are now?
I was told by so many people that being an artist wasn’t a realistic career choice so even though I couldn’t imagine doing anything else, I was pretty sure it would never happen. After school, I went to uni to study a double degree in visual arts and education with the intention of becoming an art teacher but I never finished the teaching side of my degree. I focused on my art subjects and came out with a Bachelor of Visual Arts and a total disenchantment with the art world. Looking back I’m not sure I actually learnt anything useful for the real world. Any kind of traditional art career still seemed out of reach for me. I still had no direction, no connections and no idea how to navigate the art world. I stopped painting for a few years after uni but I missed it a lot. I picked up the brushes again only when I was sure I was just painting for myself with no expectations. I made a lot of crap work which was great. I played around with different styles and just painted because it felt good. After awhile I tentatively began to share my work on Instagram. The response I got was encouraging and I kept going and now here we are.
That's incredible, a real tesimony to keep going. Thank you for sharing that with us. Tell me, who or what are your greatest inspirations, and how do these come out in your work?
In terms of style, both Picasso and Matisse have been sources of inspiration, which is quite telling in my work. But I’ve mostly been inspired by traditional representations of the female form throughout art history. The image of the reclining female nude is found throughout the western canon, in many mediums by many artists - mainly male artists of course. I use quite classical poses as a nod to that history but also as a way to reclaim that tradition and reinterpret it from a female perspective, if that makes sense.
Definitely. And, what are the main themes and ideas running through your work?
The themes have evolved and shifted over time, but mostly revolve around the female gaze, the body, womanhood and often sisterhood as well.
You've pushed me perfectly to our next question! Tell me about the women in your work Emma?
I mainly use painting as a way of contemplating myself and my experiences. My work is quite introspective and evolved at the beginning of my recovery from a 10+ year struggle with disordered eating and body dysmorphia. Painting the female form over and over has been like therapy for me, as I get used to my changing body and learn how to shift my mindset. Having a body is weird and complicated and painting the body in such a simplified and structured way has been instrumental to my recovery. It’s quite a vulnerable/personal narrative, and I haven’t really spoken about it before. But as much as the works are personal and a limited interpretation of my own privileged experience of white, cis womanhood, I hope that they’re also indicative of a universal celebration of the vulnerability and strength of wxman in general.
The aim is to make work that is honest and relatable at the end of the day.
Tell me about your studio? What are your artist essentials?
My studio is in the tiny spare room in the little house in Melbourne I share with my partner and dogs. It’s small so I just have the essentials- an easel, a shelf with materials, a few art books, rolls of canvas, stretcher bars and occasionally some nice flowers in a vase. I have about 4 paintings on the go most of the time, but can’t really fit more than that in the space without feeling super crowded. And I usually have my laptop or speaker so I can watch Netflix or listen to an audiobook while I work. The studio has a big floor to ceiling double window and gets soaked in sunlight in the afternoons which is lovely.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for art?
Instagram is pretty strange. It doesn’t come naturally for me and is a source of quite a bit of uncertainty and anxiety. But I wouldn’t be where I am now if I didn’t push through the anxiety and start sharing my work so I’m grateful for it.
Emma, tell me about your colour choice and palette?
In the past I’ve mostly been inspired by the seasons. In summer I would generally use brighter, more pastel tones. In winter I would gravitate toward orange and olive green and deep blues. But lately I’ve been sticking to a palette of blues, deep reds, dusty pinks, warm browns, terracottas and sandy beiges. I’m not sure why, but I keep being coming back to that same palette recently.
Do you have a mentor? Or any stand out people in your artist journey?
I’ve never had a mentor. I feel quite disconnected from the art world and other artists (though I’d like to change that!). I’m lucky that my partner and close friends have been actively encouraging. They were my sounding boards and the first people to commission work and insist on paying me. I guess no matter what you’re doing, it always really helps to have people around you who encourage you and believe in what you’re doing. Even though I haven’t had a mentor, I’ve been really lucky in that way.
Tell us a bit about your process? How does each work come to be? How do you know when a work is complete?
I start with a drawing of a figure on my iPad and simplify it down to a basic line drawing. I extend the lines I find in the body to the background to create shapes that distort the distinction between foreground and background and create an abstract, yet symmetrical composition. When I have a composition that feels balanced, I transfer it to the canvas using a grid and choose my colours instinctively. I tend to just know when a piece looks complete but if I’m not sure, I’ll take a photo and use procreate on my iPad to figure out any bits that feel like they need work.
What are you working on at the moment ?
Some commissions, along with a scattering of personal projects and a few pieces for upcoming group shows.
If you could change one thing about the art world, what would it be?
I don’t know much about the art world. So far I’ve made a conscious choice to exhibit in spaces that offer something different to the traditional ‘white cube’ gallery space, which I find slightly intimidating and not always all that welcoming. When I was at uni, I felt pushed to make the kind of art that would appeal to the contemporary market. There is a lot of pressure to conform to fit a mould. I find that incredibly creatively stifling. So I guess that’s something I would change or encourage artists not to worry about. I’m glad instagram exists in the way that it does. It has given a lot of artists a platform that perhaps wouldn’t have ‘succeeded’ in the traditional sense.
Who is your favourite historical female artist?
Oh gosh I have so many. Some favs include:
Georgia O’Keife Friday Khalo
Judy Chicago Mirka Mora Marlene Dumas Tamara de Lempica Alice Neel
Who are your favourite current practicing female artists and their instagram handles? Who do you currently have your eye on?
SO MANY GOOD ONES!
Chloe Wise - @chloewise_
Issy Wood - @isywod
Lucy Roleff - @lucyroleff
Seth Searle - @sethsearle
Jenny Morgan - @jenny_morgan_jm
Carlota Guerrero - @carlota_guerrero
Sofia Salazar - @__hiedra__
Jenna Gribbon - @jennagribbon
Hiba schahbaz - @hiba_schahbaz
Aretha Brown - @_enterthedragon_
Nadia Waheed - @nadiakwd
Shaina McCoy - @wallflowermccoy
Leanne Xiu Williams - @leannexiu
Tschabalala Self - @tschabalalaself
Shirley Villavicencio Pizango - @shurleey
Who should She Curates interview next ?
@lucyroleff because she is super talented and inspiring.