IN MY ELEMENT: INTERVIEW WITH MIRRA WHALE
The thought of living with your best friends in a creative share house, inspiring one another and encouraging artistic expression day in and day out is surely a DREAM?
Not for Sydney based artists Mirra Whale, Alex Standen and Laura Jones. These three girls met in Hill End NSW, a town famous for its art community and long traditions of renowned visiting artists.
This September, Element Eden will delve into the creative lives of Mirra, Alex and Laura and take you on a journey through their creative world, inspiration, craft, current projects and favourite things to do amongst the busy inner city of Sydney.
Our last feature artist for September is Mirra Whale!
Mirra Whale is a printmaker and painter who strives to present the banal and commonplace from an unusual and different angle. Nature and the organic are held in special interest for Mirra and provide limitless sources of inspiration.
Three talented artists in one house, how did you girls all meet?
We all happened to meet at the same time in a lovely little town about an hour west of Bathurst called Hill End. I think it was January 2013. I was doing an art residency through the Bathurst Regional Gallery, visiting a friend and local artist where I met Laura and Alex. Hill End holds a special place in the history of Australian art, and continues today to inspire contemporary artists.
It must be amazing seeing your best friends every day. What is it like living together?
We share a beautiful home. It really is a little oasis in the middle of Sydney. It is a beautiful weather board cottage with pressed tin walls and a rambling garden complete with hills hoist out the back. Every couple of weeks we shuffle around artworks, both new and old, either fresh from our studios, or ones we have acquired from friends. Ever changing walls are inspiring and allow our home to always be made new. My second love outside of art is my love of food and cooking. Our home has been an open door for many feast and dinner parties. We have a 12-seat table, crafted by Laura’s brother that has seen many dinners and stories, or discussions about our different artistic ventures, trials, triumphs and ideas.
Tell us a little about how you found your niche in the creative world?
I grew up in a very creative and supportive family. My grandmother was an artist, and my mother (teacher) is renowned for her love of colour, performance and collections. I studied printmaking at the National Art School in Darlinghurst. This was a great hub for skills, creativity, facilities, friends and teachers. Shortly after graduating I moved to Jervis Bay where I taught at Arthur Boyds’ Bundanon Trust as an art teacher and have continued to travel, create and teach the odd workshop since then. I have lived and worked all over Australia. When living remote I started to enter art prizes, this allowed me exhibit in different galleries around Australia. Now back in Sydney after almost 10 years I have my first art studio outside my room. I love it! The artists I share with offer me great inspiration and teaching. I love wondering through the different studios and seeing everyones paintings in different stages as they unfold.
Living in such a shared creative space, do you all help to inspire one another’s individual craft?
We all have our separate studios that we retreat too. A creative home is a very lucky and special thing. Each of us have quite different art practices - we have our highs and lows, deadlines and celebrations, so living with like minded individuals is a blessing. There is a lot of encouragement and feedback over a wine or two or morning coffee.
What is your favourite thing about your neighbourhood? Do you have any secret spots you love to visit?
We live in a leafy green suburb with a large Portuguese community - which lends itself to the most delicious pastries and tarts up the road, and there is always sprigs of rosemary to pick from gardens on your walk home. I’d have to say one of my favourite spots is sitting under the mega water tower up on the hill. It is a mass of concrete, and is quite surreal and industrial looming over the neighbourhood like a prop out of a si-fi movie.
Are you working on any side projects at the moment?
I’m about to head over to Japan and China in a couple of days on a research project for a show next year, I’m very excited! But there is always a side project on the go, I often trade illustration work with friends, sometimes catering jobs, and always looking for something new to paint or draw.
What makes you excited for the weekend?
Gosh, when it is nice weather, i’m looking forward to summer around the corner and weekends out of town. Hopefully my weekends will be filled with camping trips full of painting, drawing and cooking with friends.
Thanks Mirra! Enjoy Japan and China!
Mirra's Insta: https://instagram.com/mirra_whale/