Thank you to those of your who continue to follow and support my art practice, which is essentially ME! My art comes from me, my desire to improve and grow as an artist is not removed from my desire to grow and improve as a human. To learn to love and embrace all that I am. Where I come from, what makes me visually different to you. My height. My thick messy hair. My skin that is fairer than my black father's, but not quite as light as my white mother's. "Where do you come from?". It's a common question.
I come from Shailer Park, in Logan if you must know. Well that's where I was born and where I grew up. My cultural heritage on my mother's side is Irish, Scottish and completely caucasian really, but easily on that side of my family I am 5th generation Australian. My father's side is Samoan, my grandparents were both Samoan migrants, who migrated to New Zealand in the 50s and that's where my father was born and raised. I myself have never lived in New Zealand, though I've visited many times to get to know my cousins and aunties and uncles and extended family, whom I love as much as my white Australian cousins I grew up with here. It is assumed by many that I am a Kiwi, which used to bother me, but I've got passed it.
I want you to know that while there are African Americans fighting for change right now, making noise, protesting and likely getting all kinds of mixed news coverage - I want you to know that all social change has had to come with a hard fight. Through activism, through protesting, through story sharing, through the hearts of others who merely stand on the sideline and watch...unaffected for all kinds of reasons. If it has affected you in the slightest that's good, that's your humanity!!! Hang on to it, right now. Please hang onto it.
When the Suffragettes took to the streets in the early 1900s to fight for Women's Rights day after day, year after year - they only made social change possible by first fighting and making noise and asking for help and continuing to do so. The freedoms I enjoy as a woman now do not go unnoticed. I'm a proud feminist and I implore all men and women in my orbit to understand what that means. I'm not a man hater, it's not a bad word - it means I believe all men and women should have equal rights. Basic human rights. A lot of younger women don't realise the importance of the women's rights movements until they find themselves as mothers, with no real chance of keeping their careers, or if they do with great more difficulty than then male parents do. Fighting for maternity leave and equal pay, it's all still ongoing today. It's changing with greater understanding and beautiful men taking on more domestic roles. It's incredible, but it didn't happen without ongoing action. Action that continues today! And women asking for more, constantly! Complacency will see this all reversed.
My own Dad, who is pictured here in the second image as a mere 14 year old (the one with the sunnies on) was part of the Polynesian Panters movement in Auckland new Zealand in the 60s and 70s when his community in Ponsonby, known then as 'Little Polynesia' - experienced ongoing racial hate and police brutality with a common event known as the 'Dawn Raids', where police and law-enforcement officers used the element of surprise to raid the homes of Polynesian families at all hours of the night and early morning to catch 'over-stayers'. This is a part of NZ history that perhaps the curriculum of NZ includes. I know this history because of my dad telling us, and my Dad's oldest friends and family members telling me. It makes me proud but so very sad that my family experienced this hate, in this century.
Last year one of my Dad's cousins told me about Black Saturday in Samoa, which was the day the New Zealand military police fired on Mau independence demonstrators in Apia, killing 11 Samoans, including the independence leader Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III. I am a direct descendant of Tupua Tamasese, something which I never knew about, but something significant most definitely. Activism runs strong in my blood clearly - but it is important to note that activism often is an option that can be thrust upon people who have no other way out of their oppression. When you are born different to the majority, be it in the colour of your skin, your ability or disability, your economic environment, your exposure to violence and abuse, your sex, your sexuality, your faith - then you are often going to need to be more resilient to those who hold a differing experience - and for many people, this means you have no choice but to be 'Political', to be an advocate or at least, an ally.
To be complacent and to ride only on the current day freedoms that we all enjoy, without acknowledging how we came to enjoy them - without paying respect to those that fought - to those whose lives had to be lost for momentum to be gained - and without acknowledging that there is so far to go WE WILL see these freedoms taken away. Reversed. We must learn the lessons of history to avoid making these same mistakes again. It is imperative. If not now, then when?
Which brings me to the most talked about topic right now, because of video footage that was so utterly heartbreaking and hard to fathom. The death of another African American at the hands of a white American Police Officer. So many people are shocked that Racism even still exists as a 'problem' because it hasn't directly affected them. So many Australian's are shocked that it's happening but grateful to live here in Australia, where many believe it doesn't happen - because they don't see it. Not on their newsfeed, not in their communities, not on their radar. It's time to widen your radar peeps, please widen your radars.
Not unlike stories of Domestic Violence, do many of us have our eyes opened to the terror that women of all colours and ethnicities experience horrendous acts of violence. When we see a photo of a white women that we could have know, do we feel the intense need to help, to fight, to be an advocate. This is the same thing, this is about life, basic human rights!
I know there's many people burying their heads right now, it's a lot to emotionally take on, its heavy, it hurts, it's triggering - feeling as though it doesn't require anything from you because you don't commit racist acts is unfortunately adding to the problem though.
This affects us all and hiding behind the belief or excuse that it doesn't, might leave you feeling more comfortable - BUT I ask that you get uncomfortable for just an hour or even 30 minutes a week. Learn more about the injustices of the indigenous people of our country here in Australia. If you've been effected emotionally by the video footage you see emerging from the states, then question why you aren't as moved to learn that of 424 indigenous deaths in custody in this country since 1991, 400 did not see justice served. It's shocking. And no, focusing on these deaths and these black lives is in no way taking away from the importance of all lives - it's about understanding that minority groups here in the Western World - of which we are included as Australians - there are significant challenges faced that many of us in privileged places will likely never experience. We all experience trauma and we all experience privilege. It's important to understand what your privilege is and how you can best be grateful for it - and for me - how I can pay it forward. As a basic human ability.
For basic human rights!
You might not think yourself a political person, but if you live and operate in this time, in this country, you are living within the boundaries that politics set and hold us all within. Get informed if you're wanting to learn more about how you can create positive social change, how you can help all humans to basic human rights. Here in Australia is a great place to start.
I am committed to growing and learning and being more, when you follow my art practice that's what you're ultimately witnessing. My paintings are diary entries. My plant works are my colour therapy, my escape, my expression for all that is beautiful in the world. Nature. Love. Colour appreciation.
My portraits come from something so much more personal, and it takes a lot from me emotionally to paint them - hence I don't sustainably do them often enough. Every woman of colour I paint is a human, a smart intelligent, breathing and beautiful human. I aim to paint them and myself without objectifying them, without the male gaze, without the element of seeming 'exotic' and without 'othering' - it is most important that I paint them with strength and power and heart. With humanity. That is what I want you to see when you look at all other humans, it's a challenge I know. But get uncomfortable, question your bias, question the dialogue of fear or hate that sometimes rears its ugly head in all of our brains. No one is immune to it. But we have to question ourselves sometimes, for the sake of unity and humanity.
There is so much literature out there to be consumed, to help you understand the experiences of any person that is not like you, that has less privilege, that believes things that are different to you. Please take 30 minutes of your week to get informed. Be curious, learn, grow. I'll continue to share and spotlight people and resources that have helped me consume greater understanding.
Here's just one great quote that best sums up why it's so important to drop the ego, to get uncomfortable and to be the best human you can be. I'd love you to share your favourite quotes here in the comments if you made it this far. Art after all helps us unite ❤️
“No one can be authentically human while he prevents others from beings so. Attempting to be more human, individually, leads to having more, egotistical, a form of dehumanization.”
― Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
HERE ARE SOME LINKS TO ALL OF MY REFERENCES:
Deaths in Custody:
The Polynesian Panthers:
Black Panther's Documentary Part 1
Black Panther's Documentary Part 2
Black Panther's Documentary Part 3
BLACK SATURDAY in Samoa
The 'Women of Colour' series was by far my most ambitious series of works to date. I painted 12 portraits of inspiring women of colour and colourful women of substance who live a life pursuing their passions and purpose in a way that inspires many others.
Over half of the original works in the collection have now sold, but there are still a number of prints in a range of sizes and options available and all are limited edition. Many of these prints have already found forever homes and it brings me great joy to see them hanging in their homes. When I've shared images of the works a few people have asked if they are still available, so I wanted to write this blog post to break down the options for you and hopefully give you some inspiration as to how they could bring joy and colour to your home or office every day.
HIGH QUALITY LIMITED EDITION PRINT OPTIONS:
There are signed and numbered unframed prints on smooth cotton rag paper of all 12 portraits available in the following 4 sizes:
Extra Small: 400 x 515 (A2) $200
Small: 500 x 670 (A1) $300
Medium: 650 x 875 (A1) $400
Large: 780 x 1050 (A0) $400
These can be framed before delivery on request for an additional cost, You just need to email me after you purchase the print to request this option. Alternatively I can ship the unframed print directly to your local framer if you want to save yourself the extra trip. This option is great for international collectors and we all know how long it can take to get around to framing prints.
Pictured above is the Large print measuring 780 x 1050mm, which has been framed in oak.
The prints above are the Small print option 500 x 670mm in oak with 60mm matte board.
Above is a framed limited edition print of 'Fiercely Luxe' which is signed and numbered and framed in oak thanks to my preferred framer 'Left Bank Gallery'. If you are local to the Gold Coast, you can pick up your framed prints direct from Left Bank to massively save on shipping expenses. Just send me an email when you purchase your work.
STRETCHED CANVAS PRINT OPTION
All 12 of the 'Women of Colour' portraits are also available as framed stretched canvas prints, which look remarkably like the original canvas paintings thanks to the high resolution of the scans I had made of each work. These canvas prints are a part of the limited editions and a few of the works have already sold as canvas prints.
The canvas print measures 680 x 900mm and is framed externally in an oak shadow box.
It retails at $850 and like all of the limited edition prints, it comes with a signed certificate of authenticity.
Here are a few images to show you what this option looks like...
'Zimi Paradise' as a canvas print can be ordered here.
'Rainbow Dreaming' as a canvas print can be ordered here.
'Fiercely Luxe' as a stretched canvas print can be ordered here.
If you have any questions at all about the print options or can't find what you are searching for, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll get back to you asap. If there's a size option you are after that's not listed, just ask and I will happily get you a price for the size you are chasing. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. I'm even happy to take a look at a photo of the desired wall space you wish to hang a print on, and can offer colour suggestions for the right image to suit your space.
If it's deciding which portrait to go with, remember you can always purchase the entire 12 works as a set of postcards to help you with your decision making. They also make for a great small framed work as they fit a standard photo frame, otherwise they are a great pick me up to send to friends and colour loving family.
More INSPIRATION or MOTIVATION if you need it...
I teamed up with Left Bank Gallery and their print catalogue many moons ago, which allows for my 'Plant Love' series to be enjoyed in a range of sizes to suit all spaces and budgets and it has seen my images hanging on walls in commercial spaces, hotel rooms, offices and retail showrooms.
You can purchase prints direct from their East Coast Wall Art range by clicking here.
Please send me any images of my prints once you have them hanging! I love seeing where they end up.
Artwork for your floor
I could not be more excited to see two of my life loves coming together in such a beautiful way, thanks to the kind and flattering invitation from Brisbane based business Yogat to be their first official featured artist. My work 'Leaves on Linen' is available on their limited edition luxe workout mats with just 25 available in total.
You can pre-order yours here.
'Make Do Be' is a place to share my latest ideas, thoughts, works and ventures. My work is contemporary, original and affordable. I can create work for budgets ranging from $500 to $10,000.