Mary-Anne Stuart, Lockdown in the Pointy End

Click the image to watch Mary-Anne’s studio video.

Lockdown here in Melbourne has seen me, my husband and 24 year old daughter confined in our 12th floor apartment in one of Melbourne city’s iconic residential apartment buildings, the Republic Tower. The floor plan of our apartment includes a triangular glass walled living room with one 30-degree corner which we call “the pointy end”. It’s a great spot to sit and contemplate life in the city; there’s a bird’s eye view of the apartment buildings that have sprung up, and continue to grow, around us.

Counterweave’s Life Under Lockdown exhibition coincided with a challenge from a friend to create a nine panelled artwork on six-inch squares of 300gsm watercolour paper.  Total artwork size (unframed paper panels) is 18” x 18” though I would suggest displaying with some slight distance between panels.  I wanted to reference my own situation, living in an apartment in the cbd with a lot of building going on around me – essentially, I am surrounded by squares, rectangles, lines, angles and dull colours of the buildings and the opportunity to create an artwork that reflected that (but with a colourful twist!) was synchronicity at its best.

The nine paper panels are covered in overlapping round cornered squares, each segment in a different colour. Within some of the segments are human silhouettes.  I know I am surrounded by people (mostly unseen), and hard-edged geometric shapes. If I had X-ray vision I could see a LOT of people. I wonder what they’re all doing.

Although in theory I could have continued to go to my (shared) studio a 15 minute walk away, with so few people in that commercial building, I did not feel safe there so the dining table at home became my workspace and so did working small, by necessity.

Mary-Anne Stuart

Mary-Anne Stuart is a contemporary mixed media artist based in Melbourne, Australia.

Colour and pattern are the driving forces behind her artworks. She believes pattern is integral to life; the very fabric of life, whether human, botanical or animal. Her art works reflect this and subject matter usually references Australian flora and fauna.

“The Australian native plant Banksia has been my obsession and subject for the last few years.  I have coined a phrase – Banksia imaginata – to describe the growing body of my artworks that are intuitively created and inspired by the unique structure, colours and patterns found in this species.”

“The process of creating an artwork is one of real joy and absorption of attention for me and I want people who see my works to also realise the joy I feel about the beauty of the natural world.  If there is one thing I’m trying to communicate, it’s that.

There is a constant overlapping of art, nature, science, music; I see patterns in all of these.  Nature seems random and chaotic but there is a plan; it just takes a while to find it.  I like to let the materials find their way, to replicate nature.