July 17th, 2022Reclaiming art and shows
ALISON Parkinson was raised in a farming family and had all the space in the world to explore in the Warracknabeal district where “the lands are flat with the biggest skies”. Her creative mother always had a project on the kitchen table, teaching her three children how to sew, cook and garden and the watching of satellites in the night sky, naming the constellations, inspiring them in the ways of beauty and how to question. Alison’s father worked the land, instilling in her, her sister and brother, an amazing work ethic. She told her story to Donna Kelly.
Donna: When did you realise you were an artist?
Alison: I remember being in grade three and we were doing art. Next thing my work was being shown to the class and to the other teachers. I had faithfully reproduced a scene of poplars and a stream which hung on the wall. I made pots with the clay on the dam banks, jewellery at an early age buying copper from the local plumber using Dad’s anvil and my grandfather’s plenishing hammer to make rings and bracelets. I was accepted in Gould’s League of Birdlovers’ competitions. Loving art, I had learnt from watching my mother’s Paint by Numbers. My grandparents’ art collection was incredible. There were paintings by family members, very old paintings and a reverence of my drawings as they were pegged up in their lounge room. This all lead to me attending art school in Ballarat. In 1969 the farming space was reshaped by buildings and lots of people, excitement. The creative possibilities were endless in four years of discovering.
Donna: You have a number of mediums…
Alison: I adore line, paint and clay and silver slips in there as well.
Donna: How do you switch from one form of art to another? Is it seamless?
Alison: Drawing has been the foundational discipline. Teaching me how to see, to design, to do my compositions and to transpose the human figure from two dimensions to the three dimensions of sculpture. When I am contemplating a sculpture I hire a model. I draw from at least four views, giving me profiles to check with on my clay work. The joy of discovering the likeness of someone in a lump of cold wet clay is fabulous. My recent experience of having a bust cast in bronze and then overseeing the patination process has me contemplating: “How can I do more of this?” A highly addictive and hugely expensive process.
My paintings are generally portraits or landscapes. The lines of the hills or trees or paddocks or face or body have the same requirement, to see, to work like a cartographer. Everything in relationship to the last feature. The oil paint colours laid on, juxtaposed in light and shade or subtle shifting hues to round the cheekiness of the hill. And then when I need a change I go to the silver that continues the childhood story with the plumber’s copper. Yes, a seamless story of weaving modalities. Responding to a commission, a whim or an urge.
Donna: What is your artistic inspiration?
Alison: I am inspired by beauty, when my heart leaps and I look at someone or something that has a classical air or something that says to me: “Pay attention”. I wish to help bring a smile or relief or enquiry from the viewer. To find the emotional reflection in my work that resonates or the landscape that unfolds into the distance.
Donna: How did you fare over Covid? (Not that Covid is quite over…)
Alison: Oh Covid, oh Covid. Well I painted for 18 months, I painted the hills in this area as they evolved through 12 months of summer, autumn, winter and spring. I painted 100 paintings. All the same size and hung them up in my studio. They are like wallpaper. The dilemma: “I don’t want to separate them” – so there they stay. I loved the excuse to stay at home. Now I love the excuse to go out.
Donna: Do you feel like the artistic scene is returning to the public at large?
Alison: I do feel that like the drawing back of the stage curtain, the arts are slowly showing themselves again. Music is back and people are becoming more courageous about going out. A freedom reclaimed.
Donna: Where can we see your work?
Alison: Little Gallery Trentham – The Winter Show between July 15 and August 8. I am delighted to be invited to exhibit in this beautiful, light gallery with nine other invited artists. I met the Little Gallery group through having participated in the DMROS open Studio Trail pre-Covid. Such a professional creatively diverse group of artists. I was delighted when the invitation to participate arrived and now the time is here. Worth a drive to Trentham.
I also have work displayed at the Convent Gallery, Daylesford and at Leaver’s Wine Bar in Creswick. I have recently had work in the Toorak Village Sculpture Prize and have packed up my poster exhibition last week from Blake’s window in Creswick. And there is always work to see, if attending my studio, by making an appointment. My Instagram Account alison.parki10 has a comprehensive overview of my creating.