In celebration of Art Can #5WomenArtists on InternationalWomen’s Day I interviewed abstract artist Rachel Newton.
How does being an artist inform your sense of identity?
I wonder if it's easier to consider this is the other way round! It's self perpetuating I guess. This question makes sense to me whenI consider that, specially at the beginning of my career, art was simply a vehicle for self discovery. I honestly felt I had no identity until I started to explore my emotions thorough painting.
Where do you look for inspiration?
In the beginning I was inspired by nature, and probably still am to an extent although less consciously. I'm often unaware of much of the inspiration until I start my painting process. A lot of my works have been inward looking and so are symbolic of states of mind. Increasingly thorough I reach a point when that feels uncomfortable self indulgent. Consequently I'm trying to be less insular and respond to political/social issues that frustrate and confuse me.
What woman or women have been role models for you?
Were never too old to have role models and there are family members, friends and acquaintances that I admire greatly. My mum who lives on her own has surprise me with her bravery and sense of perspective throughout the pandemic, despite desperately missing hugs and meaningful companionship. I have key worker friends, (some on shamefully low wages) whose selflessness, commitment, humour and resilience is particularly life affirming. Unfortunately, despite all the government rhetoric throughout the pandemic they remain unrewarded and overlooked.
Who is your favourite woman artist?
Jay DeFeo is an artist I've only recently discovered, having seen a photograph of her iconic work "TheRose". The freedom she allowed herself with a multidisciplinary approach to materials I think enabled her to create such powerful, evocative and often graceful works with a limited palette. I meet many female artist at the artists art fairs I've done to date that create awe inspiring work, and getting to know them and their art means their influence on me is in many respects more meaningful than any famous artist.
From February 23 until February 27, I was a part of the Lockdown Residency takeover. In late March 2020, as the seriousness of a global pandemic unfolded, international artists found adapting to new spaces & routines and the emotional & financial stresses faced by most of society. UK-based Finnish artist Meri Lahti proposed a geographically distant but collective residency providing a loose structure for artists to reflect on their lockdown experiences.
The resulting online exhibition charts the creative responses of 18 international artists through painting, drawing, graphic design, photography, embroidery, animation, visual poetry, and video.
Participating artists are: Allison Barclay-Michaels, Bekk Wells Çaglar Tahiroglu,
Davy Yong, Jan Jwan Kurimi, Jill Mueller, Joshua Bourke,
Laurence Bourke, Lisa Pettibone, Lottie Bolster,
Mahal de Man, Meri Lahti, Neus Torres Tamarit,
Patricia Bidi, Rachel Wright, Sade Lahti,
Sangyeon Han, Yoonhee Cho