BAM chats with Suffolk Park based painter Daniela Bradley on her latest exhibition.
Your subject matter seems quite diverse. How are you inspired to paint a certain scene or object?
Dani. I like narrative, and the idea that story and allegory should be retold and adjusted to the current circumstances. I think I see the world in symbols and archetypes and every bit of paint has to be an honest expression of this with no false embellishments.
Some of your subject matter portrays the colliding worlds of natural beauty and the mundane — for example, a crimson rosella in front of a graffiti-tagged traffic sign. What are you expressing?
Dani. I try to find triggers for familiarity and memory and then level it with the remarkable uniqueness of the Australian endemic landscape. Choices like the graffitied signs, I guess, refer to our unnecessary habits and belligerence to the landscape portrayed.
Do you have a penchant for the aesthetics of everyday objects?
Dani. I’m not sure. I’m certainly more intrigued by the mundane than the shiny and new. Maybe if I can find inspiration in the mundane I could find it anywhere, or maybe it feels less narcissistic, or it seems more honest to my general surrounds or whom I’m hoping to appeal to.
Some of your work features native bird life and traditional, or simple, Aussie homes. What was your inspiration there?
Dani. I moved to Australia when I was seven years old from Switzerland. The 80s were in fair recession and drought was fierce. From postcard alpine beauty and gingerbread house styled architecture, the Aussie landscape combined with the personal losses had me grieving for much of my childhood. Now I suffer the strongest patriotism to this extraordinary endemic landscape. I’ve always had a funny habit of imagining myself on each passing home’s doorstep when I’m a passenger and wondering how it would feel. These houses are all from driving - the ones that now trigger deep attachment and familiarity. The Great Australian Dream that sometimes doesn’t consider the nuances of the landscape that surround it.
Some of your more recent work seems to contain a very irreverent, even mocking, sense of humour (for example Carnal Subterfuge and The Piss Taker). Please tell us about your motivations here.
Dani. Oops, I didn’t mean to be too mocking! If they appear that way, I hope they include me, as we are all complicit in my narratives. No one likes the finger pointed at them, and it’s certainly not the strongest catalyst for change. I’m inspired by revolution art - art that dares satirical critique even when it’s dangerous. For example, some of the contemporary Chinese artists, Mexican Muralists and the Degenerate artists. I’m not missing the fact that I am not making art under these circumstances but the present day issues effecting the people and biosphere are of unparalleled danger. The houses series from the exhibition An Implicit Inheritance were inspired in part by Banksy, who I feel often addresses uncomfortable issues with inclusive humorous anecdotes and more importantly for me, targets an audience wider than the arts.
Do you create every day in your studio?
Dani. This always depends on time and finances. The world is so fast and my style is so time consuming. I’m more inclined to creating dialogue than to making art that sells. I have never worked so many hours, both at work and the studio, than I did to complete my recent show. I have had thoughts that it's too hard, I’m too poor, it's too much time spent ... but then I get over the weariness and the roller coaster of ideas starts driving me again. I want to work more collaboratively on my next project. I think our future lies in the ability for the sciences, arts, the thinkers and inventors, etcetera, to collaborate effectively. It will help to maintain positivity too. I want to give it my best, and art is my strongest tool thus far.
Please tell us about your most recent exhibition, An Involuntary Circus.
Dani. An Involuntary Circus is a series of paintings and sculptures with a predominate narrative on environment within an Australian landscape. The works intertwine allegories of conservation, progress and the effect of colonization on the endemic landscape. It is showing at the Broken Hill Regional Gallery from the 3rd of February until the 19th of March, 2017.