Eliza – thanks for speaking with us! We absolutely love your work and are extremely drawn to the nostalgic, mid-century architecture that you depict so well. You originally started out studying architecture – what drew you to painting buildings instead of designing them?
My architectural studies were a short-lived pursuit, discovering that my love for drawing buildings didn’t quite convert to a love nor a skill for designing them. I quickly concluded I was at the wrong school and moved to The National Art School where I studied painting for five years.
National Art School was exceptional. Five days a week of painting, drawing, sculpting and everything in between. There were so many new skills and mediums to be learnt! It wasn’t until my second year that I painted a building. It was a pink mid-century house on Military Road in Dover Heights that I sketched and then painted on the biggest canvas I could afford. It took me weeks and weeks but once I finished, I just thought ‘yes’ and started doing the next one. My mum still owns that painting today.
Are your paintings always based on existing buildings or are they sometimes constructed in your mind?
Normally my paintings start from an existing building, but things are always altered. In particular the surrounding landscape is often invented, I delete surrounding structures, flowers and flimsy foliage in favour of trees with strong silhouettes like Firs and Pines.
Currently I’m working on some works that depict interiors where I’ve pulled furniture and structures from domestic 60s magazines and collaged them together in my paintings. So, they are completely constructed scenes.
Colour seems to be an integral part of your work – how do you go about selecting your colour palettes?
Titanium white and raw umber are my go-to. I add them to almost every colour I mix up and I find it creates the washed tones I am after.
In terms of colour selection, I mostly paint from archival black and white images ensuring colour choices are an artistic decision and I am not being influenced by the true colours of the building or scene.
You’re currently working on an upcoming exhibition so you must be busy creating! Can you tell us a bit about your daily studio practice and how you get into the workflow? Do you have any rituals that help to structure your day?
I try to structure my days in the studio around normal working hours however being in the studio doesn’t mean I am just painting, I could be reading, researching, writing/sketching in my journal, you name it. I just find it's important to have structure around being in that creative space.
Where would we find you on a day off in Sydney?
In and around the city in Sydney. I live in Darlinghurst and paint in Woolloomooloo and just love the area. You’ll find me wandering around galleries on a Saturday followed by dinner and drinks on Stanley street and a late-night treat from Bill and Toni’s.
What are you most excited about the year to come?
In August I will be included in SPRING 1883, a hotel-based contemporary art fair in Melbourne taking place in 2021 at The Hotel Windsor. I will be a part of MARS galleries ‘hotel room’ along with five other artists.
As of yesterday, I started my own studio space in Woolloomooloo with two other creatives Kris Andrew Small and David Porte Beckefeld. The space is called Ninety Three Bourke with our studios upstairs and a retail space downstairs for events and art shows. It’s going to be an exciting year putting on and curating exhibitions.
Portraits by Benjamin Jay Shand