Clayton Utz People’s Choice Award Winner: ‘Insurgent’

I’m excited to reveal that my new painting ‘Insurgent’ is the winner of the Clayton Utz Art Award People’s Choice Prize  for 2016. The self portrait, oil on canvas, measures  36″x36″ and will be on exhibition at Clayton Utz in Brisbane Gallery October 2016 – September 2017. ‘Insurgent’ is available for sale, contact Lethbridge Gallery for purchase enquiries.

Watch The Story of ‘Insurgent’ video for a little behind-the-scenes glimpse at the process behind my new oil painting ‘Insurgent (Self Portrait)’, from prop construction and canvas prep to painting and final detailing. Read on for more about the work and process photos.

As always, I like people to have their own personal experiences with my work. I love hearing viewers’ different interpretations with new and unique layers of meaning. For me, those experiences only enrich my own relationship with the work. That being said, I know there are those who are always curious as to my own intent behind the concepts in my work. So, for those interested, the title gives a way a little of the story – it’s one of rebellion…

Most of us are aware of the increasing toxicity in our contemporary environment – air, water and soil pollutants abound while chemicals additives in food are an accepted norm. Aside from the implications this toxic load has for the longevity of our planet, I personally face a daily battle with a rare gene mutation making me particularly prone to chemical sensitivity. I am the proverbial canary in a coal mine. ‘Insurgent’ is a statement of rebellion against both the limitations imposed by my DNA and the psychological hurdles that arise living in a world where simple things like breathing and eating safely can be a challenge. When faced with adversity there are many different lenses through which we may choose to see and relate to the world, each forged of our own unique experiences, learnt behaviours, traumas, triumphs and philosophy of self. I choose to see inspiration rather than limitation, I choose to break the mould that made me, I choose to be strengthened but never defined by my vulnerabilities, I choose to see a world in which a canary can thrive. I choose to sing.

Designing & Making the Steampunk Goggles

The concept for the Insurgent goggles developed out of a desire to create a prop that could be a metaphor for different levels of perception, or layers of reality. I started out collecting various inexpensive bits and pieces I from all corners of the internet – magnifying spectacles, glass lockets and magnifying pendants, brass nuts, bolts and cogs. The build process was fairly organic; deconstructing, stripping down, modding, refinishing and reassembling with a distinctly Frankensteinesque rationale. My only goals, aside from being illustrative of concept, were that the finished piece should be ornately fascinating and absurdly curiouser …and curiouser.

Some of my favourite elements to put together were the functional LED light which is able to be turned on and off (see it in action in the video above), the functional hinge that allows the entire magnification attachment on the right side to be pivoted upward for clear vision through both lenses, the gold finial for which I mutilated and repurposed a section of an old cast alloy necklace, and the hand-tooled leather strap attachment. I was also pleased with the way the intentionally mismatched metal tones and faux patinas came together to lend an eclectic integrity to the piece as a whole.

Putting Paint to Canvas


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