Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Artist Eating Strawberries - Featured Artist February 2012


Strawberries is one of the first artists here on RB I put on my watchlist and she’s a firm favourite here on Pink Panther with the often controversial topics and subjects she depicts.

Her art always fascinated me – the expression, the colour and processing and, most of all, the depth of emotion in each of her images is amazing. Many of her subjects are close to my heart, from lost love to who we (women) are in this world and where we are going.

Here’s the interview:
My name is Strawberries; I don’t use my real name when I practice, so I can attempt to split up the reality form the insanity, but it very rarely works.

I joined Redbubble in January 2010, and have never looked back. Now I host 8 groups, run an online gallery, have had 2 solo exhibitions and been involved in 4 group exhibitions. I occasionally show progression of my work and talk about my decisions on my blog. I have 4 YouTube videos, which I made myself, music and all. I also a have a published book; Outcast, which is a collection of my work and is available for sale on blurb.com.

I come from a small rural town in Victoria, Australia called Briagolong. It has very few people, no public transport and fantastic mountain views. I have lived there all my life, but that will soon change, as I will be moving to Los Angeles in the middle of the year.

People and personalities fascinate me, and I am curious about emotions and memories, and how someone can be so affected by an idea. There is strong focus a lot on people and portraiture because of a fascination with psychology; what people think, what people feel, their secrets, their desires, their hate and their fear in my work. I think this has something to do with my rural locality, as people are more guarded and introverted about their true selves in the country, there is a clear line between right and wrong behaviors, and I fall into the wrong category!

To create my work I use a selection of ever-growing cameras, a Pentax *ist DL, a Nikon D3000, a fujifinepix S1800fd and a SVP Aqua 5300. Combined with my digital darkroom, Photoshop Elements 7, and you get the work you all know and love.

How did you get started with your art?
Art has always been second nature, as natural as breathing, to me. I can’t pinpoint where I started any more, though I think the crayon doodles on the wall could help locate a date!
However, the transition from all art forms to specializing photography and digital began in 2009 when I was in my first year at university. I found that digital photography and Photoshop were better at defining the themes and issues I wanted to discuss.

What excites you about your work?
A lot of my work is begun on intuition, I very rarely actually plan a shoot, and thankfully those who work with me know me well enough to just go with the flow.

So my favorite moment is when I get all my images on the computer and I’m editing them down to the ones that will be processed through Photoshop (and sometimes simply resized) and you find the shot that defines you as an artist, that shot that brings everything together in a way you could never have planned; the light, the color, the way the model looks at you. I find it exciting when you stumble across that image and you ask yourself, “Did I really do that?"

What/Who are your main influences?
I have many influences, some I won’t mention.

But a few things that influence the work I do are things like music; if anyone was to spend a day in my head you’d find it an epic place to be, the whole thing is like one big continuous movie, soundtrack and all thanks to musicians like The Apples in Stereo, Evanescence, The Beatles, Sleigh Bells, Saya Concept, Bjork, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Muse, Smashing Pumpkins, Christina Perri, Dido, The Corrs, Tame Impala, Radiohead, Crippled Black Phoenix, David Bowie, Joan Jett, Suzie Q, Lykke Li, Sia, Pink Floyd, Gotye, The Strokes, P!nk, Florence and the Machine, Shakira and so many others that deserve mention, but would take up too much time.

Movies and Television play a major role in the influence of my work. I’ve been told that TV is a bad thing, but it actually helps with rolling out quick witty punches sometimes, shows like Downton Abbey, Wilfred, Sherlock, Dr Who, Horrible Histories, Avatar; the last airbender, and The Simpsons. But films help me often to consider and contemplate bigger issues; sometimes I’m looking for ideas on a theme or a new way of expressing an age old idea. Movies like Lord of the Rings, Eternal Sunshine of the spotless mind, The Duchess, Red Riding Hood, Romeo and Juliet, Dead Man, Paris je t’amie, 9, Howls Moving Castle, Pan’s Labyrinth, Ned Kelly, Memoirs of a Geisha, Stardust, Black Swan, The book of Eli, The Runaways, Moulin Rouge, Marie Antoinette, Transformers, Some like it Hot, Harvey, Funny Face, Picnic at Hanging rock, Kingdom of Heaven, Scott Pilgrim versus the world, Happy Feet, Avatar, and God knows what else are just part of the complexities that make my work. You’ll notice that a lot of these have big costume productions, which is also something that I draw upon.

And finally, I will mention the works of Annie Leibovitz and Autumn de Wilde; both women photographers who create epic works that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also deeply meaningful (I have studied Leibovitz’s work a number of times and probably have enough discussion notes and saved info to write a book on the woman, she’s so amazing), and de Wilde’s work has a similar aesthetic to my own work which allows me to connect with it on a personal level. Having two huge influences helps me to grow as an artist.

Are there any recurring themes running through your work?
Because I focus a lot on psychology and emotions, recurring themes tend to be centered on specific emotions, the idea of Insanity, insecurity, depression, obsession, courage, submission and loss. It may sound odd to say that I often do this in a positive way, especially knowing how dark my work can appear, but having lived through all of these emotions, and having seen others struggle and adapt daily to these, I can see how one can continue to survive in such a way, and I suppose in a funny way it’s almost like a tribute to them, those little nasties that make life a torment, but help us to grow as people and come out twice as strong on the other side.

Strawberries favorite image is “Sweet Surrender”:

I think it’s because it sums up how I’ve lived my life so far, that whilst I have been in control I have allowed myself to be swayed any which way, and just accepted what others have told me to do.

Now that I’ve finished university, I’m starting to break away from the easy acceptance, but until now, I’ve simply surrendered to what everyone else wanted, to some extent. My use of flowers in “Sweet Surrender” was a simple solution to my idea of Australian Gothic. Bright and vibrant, but doomed to die and fade in a matter of days- a personal symbol for my theme of surrender and chaos, like me, the flowers had no say, they stayed beautiful when the stem was cut, but they wouldn’t last in an environment like that, much like a person who doesn’t decide anything, they will eventually lose sight of themselves.. The skull was the idea of decay making a new kind of beautiful, perhaps the positive part, that change is inevitable, but in the end necessary.

It’s also my fav image, because I feel like I came together at that moment as an artist, like a switch was flipped and I found the confidence to be me. I always knew others liked my work, but it wasn’t till that point that I like my work.

Here are some of my favourite images by Strawberries – there are too many favourites really to choose, but these twelve shall stand for all of them. :-) Please add your own favourites in the comments to this post. :-)
This is just so spot on and encapsulates the feeling of feeling petrified by all that has gone before and not knowing where to go next or even if we can go on. The image also seemed a great start for the series of images as many deal with those disappointments.

Heart of Stone by © strawberries

This made me grin when I first saw it. It IS funny, but it’s also terribly sad, and I liked that it made me laugh first because then it didn’t hurt quite so much to think about it.

I could have sworn I left my sanity here… by © strawberries

This is a topic many of us know. How often do we hold back our own hurt to save someone else pain, or just because there’s no one to listen or care?

Time engraves our faces with all the tears we have not shed by © strawberries

The truths we speak, the lies we make up and the hurt both cause us more often than not….

Truth and Lies by © strawberries

This image came in just when I was putting the feature together and it struck me on so many levels – the cage and the dolls symbolise so much and, as per usual, Strawberries managed to show a deeply disturbing topic in an aesthetically pleasing way. This is probably THE image that shows why feminism is so real and needed even today. We are still brainwashed by the way we are brought up to become the women of yesterday.

A cage for you and me by © strawberries

Looking at this I am not sure if the muteness is self inflicted or inflicted by the outside world. Possibly a bit of both. What do you think?

no words by © strawberries

I love the Gothic feel of this. It reminds me of Ophelia and the Lady of Shalott, but there’s also something distinctly modern about it, something that seems to have only just woken up. So, for me there’s a little bit of Sleeping Beauty about this, too, but maybe a Sleeping Beauty who has decided that she’s waited long enough?

a flower without her petals by © strawberries

Who hasn’t wished to be able to do that. Get rid of a thought, a feeling, memories, a lost love and start afresh. I love the ethereal, delicate feeling and the depth of emotion in this.

I’ll Smoke you out of my Soul by © strawberries

The juxtaposition of the dragonfly wings against the gas mask is so poignant. It stirs up so many feelings in me, from the desire to protect to thoughts about the environment to helplessness.

Poisoned Hearts by © strawberries

This image hurts so much. We all want to be loved and cherished and so often we don’t find anyone to love us for who we are and the pain of that can be excruciating. There is little hope in this image, although to me it looks like a memory or maybe a reminder.

Turmoil by © strawberries

The colour of this image is so perfect – intelligent and educated women used to be called Bluestocking. Seems this is still apt today, even if we’re called Nerd instead of Bluestocking….

Intelligence by © strawberries

This seemed the perfect image to end my little gallery of Strawberries art. Nowadays we all seem to define ourselves by the brands we can afford (or sometimes not afford but buy anyway). Everything is about the make, the brand, the flavour, and so little about the content. Faceless, just like the woman int his picture.

Insert brand name here by © strawberries

I hope you enjoyed this feature and if you did, please congratulate Strawberries. I loved ‘meeting’ her and finding out more about her. A lot of her answers (although we come from different sides of the world) are very similar to ones I could have given and it showed me that sisters live all over the world.

A big thank you to Strawberries for being our featured artist for February.

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