Studio Visit

Artist Noël Skrzypczak

Lucy Feagins
Lucy Feagins
17th of June 2011
Aqua by Noël Skrzypczak . 2008, Acrylic on canvas, 168 x 122cm.

Light makes people happy by Noël Skrzypczak from the 12 Disasters exhibition.  2008, acrylic on canvas, 38 x 51cm

It's a common misconception that I am totally across all the creative happenings and talented people in this town.  I have to admit, often the best interviews I ever post are the result of a lucky tip off! (Last week's interview with book designer Allison Colpoys for example!).

Today's interviewee is another fortuitous find - I feel very lucky to have been introduced to the incredible work of Melbourne artist Noël Skrzypczak by my friends Gavin and Lily from The Apiary.  They recently made the most beautiful short film about Noël for Arts Victoria's UNFOLD series - an 8-part mini documentary series that showcases the work of artists working in Victoria.  Their film about Noël is the first in the series, and was launched just this week - so lovely... you can view it below!

Noël Skrzypczak was born in Canada, but moved to Canberra with her family as a child.  She studied Visual Arts at the Australian National University School of Art in Canberra, but now lives and works in Melbourne.  Her work is just so incredibly vibrant and full of buzzing energy - she has an amazing gift with colour, and is particularly adept at randomly dripping and pouring paint to create completely unexpected forms!  This stems from the idea of wanting to 'set the paint free... I was obsessed with flying and I wanted the paint to fly away' she explains below.  AMAZING.

It's so rare to hear an artist discuss their work first hand.   Noël is refreshingly open and frank about her work in this interview -  I LOVE when she says 'I hate all of my projects when I finish them', and that she usually comes back to establish 'a respectful relationship' with her work a year or two down the track!  There's a lesson in that for all of us I think! (don't be so hard on yourself!)

Noël has a solo exhibition opening June 25th at Heide Museum of Modern Art!  IN ACTUAL FACT if you pop along on the 25th when it opens, you can catch Noël in conversation with Heide curator Linda Short, talking about her work. Very exciting!  Be sure to head out and see it!

AND / OR if you're ever at a loose end in the CBD, you could always make a leisurely stroll through the foyer of the Crown Metropol pretending to be a lost tourist and admire her incredible wall mural in there!  Truly beautiful work from a very special local artist.

Huge thanks to Noël for her time and wise words, and to Arts Victoria and The Apiary for sharing their beautiful short film with us!

Noël Skrzypczak - Talking to Strangers Heide Museum of Modern Art

25 June - 9 October 2011

Catch Noël in conversation with Heide curator Linda Short at 2.00pm on Saturday 25 June 2011 - FREE with admission
Noël Skrzypczak video by The Apiary for UNFOLD - Inside the Arts in Victoria - an initiative of Arts Victoria. 8 beautiful films featuring local creative people will be released fortnightly over the next few months!  More info here!

Tell me a little about your background - what path led you to what you’re doing now?

I’ve always known I wanted to be an artist even though my mother warned me that it wasn’t going to lead to a financially or mentally stable life. Nonetheless it was she who first introduced me to art through a collection of books she had on the Impressionists, and who drove me to weekly painting and drawing classes at the Canberra School of Art when I was in High School.

The type of paintings (I think of the sculptures as paintings too) I’ve been making have their origins in an idea I had when I was at art school, that I wanted to set paint free – free from the edges of the canvas and free from the dictatorship of the artist. I was obsessed with flying and I wanted the paint to fly away, and not just look like it was but also to make us (the viewers) feel like we were flying too. So even now I always start with the feeling that I hope that the painting will give us, and I try to allow the paint to be as un-manipulated as possible, or at least to appear that way.

What have been some favourite projects / paintings in recent years?

I hate all of my projects when I finish them. Then, after a few years I start to establish a respectful relationship with them again. One such work is 'Cave Painting II', another is the show '12 Disasters'.

Cave Painting II by Noël Skrzypczak shown at Cave Painting, Grant Pirrie, Sydney, 28 Nov – 16 Dec 2006 and An Ever Expanding Universe at Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts,12 June – 3 August 2008.  Approx 11 x 2.7m.

A work that I made that I kind of liked straight away is 'Good Time Garden Party' which is in the lobby of the Crown Metropol Hotel in Southbank. Anyone can go in and see it – there are comfortable couches right in front so you can relax and take it in, although disappointingly you’re not allowed to drink champagne there.

Good Time Garden Party by Noël Skrzypczak, located in the lobby of the Crown Metropol Hotel in Southbank, 2010.  Approx 9 x 4.5 m

How would you describe your work to someone who hasn’t seen your paintings or sculptures before?

Drippy, poured paint, abstract. I’m not very good at describing them, I sometimes think that an artist is the least-qualified person to describe their own work .

Finding a home for baby by Noël Skrzypczak from the 12 Disasters exhibition.  2008, acrylic on canvas, 30.5 x 41cm

What can we expect to see in your upcoming exhibition at Heide?

I’m not too sure yet… I hope it will be some moody blobby soapy sculptural forms kind of slinking away in the corners and a burst of pink and black cloudy paint quietly imploding in another corner…

What does a typical day in the studio involve for you?

I get the the studio around 10 and make myself a cup of tea even if I only just had breakfast. Then I forget to drink it while I write a list of things to do or read the list of things to do that I wrote for myself the night before.

I play music off my laptop and then start with easy things like tidying up or mixing paint which might take a few hours. I don’t have many breaks but I do have a comfortable chair that I might relax in and there is also a friendly neighbourhood cat that I’ll go outside to play with if the weather’s nice.

I’m in the studio until dinner-time if I’m not too busy, and if I am working towards a deadline I’ll postpone dinner until 9 or 10pm.

Where do you turn for creative inspiration – travel, cultural references, books or the web etc?

National Geographic magazines, my own experience of nature (like snorkelling), looking at art in galleries and in books, movies and stories I’ve read…

Train crash by Noël Skrzypczak from the 12 Disasters exhibition. 2008, acrylic on canvas, 38 x 51cm
Which other artists or other creative people do you admire?

That’s a difficult question – there are too many. Shall I start at the start? Giotto, Titian, … Matisse, David Hockney, Bridget Riley, Mike Kelley, Sarah Sze, Dale Frank and Bryan Spier. Vivienne Westwood, Stanley Kubrick, Robert Frost, Hayao Miyazaki

Dark, shiny by Noël Skrzypczak. 2006, acrylic on polycotton, 100 x 80cm
What are you looking forward to?

The Heide exhibition has been a very ambitious project for me, and it was fantastic to work with other people on the production of the sculptures – like Phil Stokes glass workshop, and the guys at 3rd Eye FX studio to make the moulds. But now I’m kind of looking forward to making some paintings on canvas again – on my own – and I have a lot of ideas for what I want to paint. I have an exhibition at Neon Parc in November so it will be great to get busy in the studio and make the paintings for that.

Talking to the Birds (Pink) by Noël Skrzypczak. 2011, Acrylic paint on canvas, 76 x 92cm

Melbourne Questions

Your favourite Melbourne neighbourhood and why?

I love High Street in Northcote because I feel like I see people I know every time I walk down the street, and if I don’t know them it feels like I should. Sydney Road in Brunswick is also a favourite because it’s such a mish-mash, and I like the grungy raw feel some parts of it have.

What/where was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?

Tofu King on Swanston Street – I love it! You can choose 6 tasty prawn-stuffed nuggets of tofu, seaweed or vegetable from a selection on display in the shop, then take it to the counter and choose a type of noodle and flavour of soup, then they cook it all up and bring it to your table in a few minutes - and it’s delicious!

Where do you shop in Melbourne for the tools of your trade?

The hardware shop in Clifton Hill, Art supply shops, industrial suppliers…

Where would be find you on a typical Saturday morning?

Usually in the studio otherwise going to see some exhibitions around town.

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

Nobody’s told me!

Noël stands beside her work entitled Hourglass-aphids-aviatrix.  Part of Gertrude Studio Artists Exhibition at Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, Melbourne, 16 November – 15 December 2007.  Approx - 3.9  x  3 + 1.2 m

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