Each of us have moments, conversations, places or experiences that we may wish to move past, or forget. But occasionally what we wish to remember and hold onto leaves our memory without a trace.
Last week at the Byron School of Art, emerging artist Casey Arnaud displayed her artwork in the exhibition A Sense of Place. The show uses a combination of textures and light washes that convey a sense of nostalgia, and relays the delicate nature of relationships, and the connections between people -- from initial awkwardness to the harmony of their daily interactions.
The Northern Rivers local describes the exhibition as “an exploration of finding a place - my search for memory, connections, and a sense of belonging. This tentative search into history, then (exploring) the relationship between what is left behind and what is remembered ... My work is about the fragility of relationships, vulnerability, and finding memory. Looking for connections to build back my memory, and ease the feelings of being lost and feeling disconnected”.
The show went down a raging success, leaving Casey feeling that she is finding her feet on this new and once daunting endeavour. The public reaction was hugely positive. This is comforting to the mother of two, who packed up and left her life in Sydney to pursue her dream in the Northern Rivers.
“People have said that there is a delicacy in the artwork -- a softness and honesty. Layers that mean you can’t read the whole story at first glimpse, but need to fall into it. And I really like that,” the artist said.
Now with her own children, Casey has found herself trying to piece together memories that she struggles to remember from her childhood. Her growing adoration of antiques and items that tell a story are profound in this search. “I have always been attracted to aged items, old oil stains and marks of the past. The signs of aging are a big influence on me. They bring a sense of nostalgia that I relate to, trying to find my own memories. I don’t remember much from my childhood so it can be quite healing,” Casey says.
She believes that this translates in the use of texture in her works. While she enjoys and savours each moment in the creative process, her initial stages of the planning process are what drive her to create: “I am process driven. I really enjoy the beginning, collating ideas and building an interesting surface. I do love seeing the end result but by the end I have this strong desire to continue learning. I thought it was boredom but it was being eager to learn.”
She has a strong passion for creating -- and it is much more than just a process for Casey. The successful businesswoman, and now artist, has been a creative for as long as she remembers. If a day goes by where she is not participating in something creative she notices an instant deterioration in her mood. She says that creating artwork in particular acts like an escape to her busy mind. “I don’t realise how much mental chatter is going on. I think that’s what I really enjoy with artwork -- often that goes away ... It is being present. It’s a great mood lifter,” she says. “Especially looking into all the places I’ve lived, I was mapping all the areas that I had lived in my life. And as I did that stories were coming up in my mind. Looking back at different stages of my life, people I had associated with, experiences… and that then goes into the next artwork.”
Casey acknowledges the common belief that the final piece of a show is often the first piece in the next. And for this reason — along with her love for layering — she can see her future work incorporating a lot more of this style. “I really enjoy collaging letters and things I’ve written. It creates texture and tells a story. It gives an aged feeling, and helps to look at what is left behind. I’m learning every day,” she said.
After studying for a year at a local TAFE, Casey cannot offer more praise to the Byron School of Art, which has taught her more than she ever imagined. She is now completing her second year at BSA, and plans to continue into her third and final year to acquire new techniques and enhance her personal style.
“It’s all part of that school, you just walk into this great family," she said. "It’s a unique model, for artists to teach artists, rather than someone who is retired and out of the loop. You see them practice what they preach, and they will work around each other. You see the highs and lows for them, too, so there is a real honesty there. They are realistic and honest and it is a really beautiful way to live. I wasn’t going to study next year, but I consider them like the mafia - they have sucked me back in.”
Post by Liz Calligeros