A case in point for backing your ambitions and putting your work out there, late last year Sam Michelle’s art was featured in a popular group exhibition at Saint Cloche in Sydney. On the back of this success, the Melbourne-based painter was encouraged to work towards her first solo show, ‘Flourish‘, which will open at that very gallery next Wednesday.
Stepping into the spotlight, the industrious artist will exhibit 25 paintings on canvas, at a larger scale than previous works. ‘I wanted to push myself with size in this series… to explore and play with fabric; I’ve really enjoyed interpreting the texture of the fabric with paint,’ tells the still life painter, who visited her favourite Melbourne florists, and assembled her ever-growing ceramics and fabric collections to create the scenes depicted.
Fortunate to have grown up as part of an artistic family (in New Zealand before relocating to Melbourne in 2001), Sam was surrounded with art supplies, as well as the encouragement to nurture her own artistic expression. ‘My Grandpa was a successful painter and sculptor and always had us working on creative activities during our holiday stays,’ she recalls fondly. Sam’s Grandfather’s interest in her painting was unwavering throughout her school years, proving a constant source of motivation, and, when his eyesight sadly deteriorated, it was to her that he bequeathed his treasured oil paints.
For a long time, painting with these heirloom materials could only be a side practice for Sam. ‘Although pushed by my high school art teacher to study art at university, I had been fearful that if it was an actual job I would tire of it, so I moved to Melbourne at 17 and worked in finance for 13 years,’ she explains. Bolstered by business savvy from her day-job, she eventually set her mind on seeing if art could be a financially-viable full time career. ‘Making the decision and actually writing down my goals and wishes had such a powerful impact on opening up opportunities,’ she reflects, listing opening her local council art space in 2014 and live painting demonstrations as early, pivotal highlights. ‘These events kept rolling into more fabulous opportunities, and I count myself very lucky to have met some incredible people, supporters and mentors.’
Earlier this year Sam outgrew her home workspace in Berwick, and moved into a new studio in Mornington. ‘Micah and Bern from the wonderful Southern Buoy (who have been making my canvases and frames for nearly three years now) invited me down for lunch and explained their fantastic plan to create purpose-built studios and an exhibiting gallery space for artists next door to their new factory – how perfect!’ she says, of her new ‘little arty family’.
Like many emerging creatives today, Sam feels indebted to the social media tools that have facilitated her networking and also sales. ‘Instagram has introduced and connected me to some wonderful makers and creatives – I love that I can follow their process, stories, and am able to interact so directly, it’s all very inspiring!’ In a kind of meta form of emerging-local-talent-exposure, we hope that our posting of Sam’s work will only contribute to this further!
Sam has more solo shows planned for September, October and December – keep up with all her news on her website, here.