We recently came across two incredibly talented students who are studying at the Australian National University School of Art and decided to find out more about them. Meet Divya Melaluca and Harriet Mitchell in our two part interview series ‘Talking Art’.
Name: Harriet Mitchell
Leiden: What first drew you to art?
Harriet: When I was little my mum signed me up to art classes at Lavender Art Studios, and it became my favourite two hours of the week. It was a supportive and exciting space that I was encouraged to appreciate looking and observing.
L: Tell us a little bit about your artistic practice. What medium do you prefer? What scale? What subject matter?
H: I work with oil paints to create large scale portraits, usually of family and friends. My work always focuses on the eye-to-eye interaction between the subject and viewer. I always want to create a presence in my paintings that the viewer can react to.
L: What are you working on currently?
H: I am working on a series of large full figure portraits exploring habit and daily ritual. I want to capture the ‘in between’ moments of everyday life.
L: What inspires your work?
H: I find inspiration in anything I find joy in like books, movies, other artists paintings, travelling etc. Spending an afternoon with an old friend always motivates me to paint.
L: What other artist do you admire?
H: My friends who produce all different types of art. They are always supportive and critical when they need to be. As far as my stylistic and thematic inspiration I draw a lot from the works of Lucian Freud, his colours, subjects and composition always amaze me.
L: What is your experience of art school?
H: Sometimes the requirement of having to plan and explain everything drives me mad because I always want to work straight onto the canvas and problem solve as I go, but I can see that learning to step back and think more critically is really important in the long run. So mixed feelings but I that’s just because I’m stubborn!
L: In a country obsessed with sport, do you think that we truly value art and culture here in Australia?
H: I think people do value art and culture, maybe not traditional forms of art but everyone in their own way finds pleasure in creativity. Being obsessed with sport isn’t mutually exclusive to valuing the arts, but I do think the disparity of funding and promotion is pretty extreme.
L: How would you like to see funding to the arts change?
H: I would love a wider range of scholarships to be available to different types of people, opportunities that don’t consider ATAR scores or their equivalent and just focused on the art of the applicants.
L: Where would you like to take your art?
H: I’m still exploring different areas I could work in, I’m interested in illustration, digital art, printmaking and art restoration so at the moment the goal is to finish school and to finish the series I am working on at the moment. Then we’ll see what happens.