Environmental observation: Stella Clarke’s The perfect tree. Photo: SUPPLIED

Looking to the natural landscape for inspiration

April 4, 2020 BY

2020 has placed a couple of roadblocks in front of Haddon artist, Stella Clarke, but she won’t let them stop her.

Clarke was preparing to share her paintings and processes with crowds before last month’s Golden Plains Community Arts trail was postponed, and her collaborative exhibition, Nature Works, set for the Art Gallery of Ballarat’s Backspace, has been moved to 2021.

Plans may have changed, but she knows her studio output won’t, even if in self-isolation.

“I’m inspired by the place where I live,” she said. “It’s important to look locally, look at what’s in front of me and encourage people to connect with the things that are right under their noses.”

Understanding how challenging it can be to “take on board” what’s recently happened in Australia, including fire and drought, Clarke has painted to highlight the value and beauty of rugged natural landscapes at their best, rather than focusing on negatives.

“Connecting to the land is helpful. It’s something we have a need for psychologically and spiritually as part of our overall wellbeing.

“That’s been my inspiration, sitting out in the bush near my studio, looking at the dam, the trees and light, trying to produce something that’s inspiring and connects people back strongly to the environment,” she said.

“Wherever you are, you can pay closer attention to the living things around you, that you share your world with.”

Now with lots of extra time, Clarke may even dabble in different mediums before her Backspace Gallery show rolls around again.

“I’ll perhaps move into some slightly different mediums, maybe using some watercolours and charcoal with smaller pieces, mixing it up a bit. That will evolve over this year.

Being at home and in self-isolation has to be good in some ways for creative work,” she said.

Although it may seem harder for artists to get their work seen and sold right now, Clarke wants to encourage viewers and collectors to embrace a new virtual world.

“A lot of galleries are still trying to sell online. Many are continuing with exhibitions online, asking people to engage with and appreciate the work, even if they’re not going to buy it.

“We’re so lucky with online connectivity and platforms, so spend time browsing people’s websites. In some ways, it can be a nicer way to engage because some people find galleries can be intimidating…” she said.

Visit stellaclarkestudiogallery.com, facebook.com/StellaRClarke, or @stellaclarkestudiogallery on Instagram.