Studio Visit

Bridie Gillman · 'After'

Brisbane-based artist Bridie Gillman is inspired by cross-cultural experiences – from a childhood growing up in Indonesia, to residencies abroad, and trips across Australia. Her bold, striking compositions convey moody landscapes, exploring both emotional and physical terrain.

We recently stopped by Bridie’s home studio to preview her exhibition, ‘After’,  which opens at new Brisbane venue Innerspace Contemporary Art today.

Jo Hoban

Artworks in progress by Bridie Gillman. Photo – Mindi Cooke for The Design Files.

The visual artist’s work is driven by the colour conjured from memories. Photo – Mindi Cooke for The Design Files.

‘It’s fun drawing with abandon and it’s a good tool for getting something down – it takes away the fear that often comes with a blank canvas,’ explains the artist. Photo – Mindi Cooke for The Design Files.

Bridie is exhibiting her latest body of work, ‘After‘ from today until November 9th at new Brisbane venue Innerspace Contemporary Art. Photo – Mindi Cooke for The Design Files.

The Brisbane-based artist works from her home studio in an old, character-filled Queenslander. Photo – Mindi Cooke for The Design Files.

Photo – Mindi Cooke for The Design Files.

‘For ‘After’ I have started each painting with 15 minutes of intuitive mark-making and drawing. Sometimes it’s mindless and sometimes I think of the experience and try to convey an element of it through my marks,’ explains Bridie. Photo – Mindi Cooke for The Design Files.

Bridie likes to work quite fast and for that energy to be visible in her art. Later though, she labours on a great deal of ‘figuring out’, ‘fixing’ and ‘finishing’. Photo – Mindi Cooke for The Design Files.

‘Painting has become a meditative act of recalling my experiences of a place through abstract response. Formless abstract shapes reflect the inconstancy of memory: an emotional reaction rather than a representation of place,’ says the artist. Photo – Mindi Cooke for The Design Files.

Jo Hoban
9th of November 2017

‘I never set out to be an abstract painter,’ says Brisbane artist, Bridie Gillman. ‘I tried representational painting at University, but it didn’t go down so well!’ Following her Fine Art degree, Bridie travelled, returning for an Honours year that veered into sculpture, installation, and video. Then, after four years away from painting, she decided to explore it again. For the last two years, Bridie has focused on abstract painting and photography to express her diverse experiences of place.

The results are quietly disarming, and often culturally provocative. ‘Drawing from my time growing up in Indonesia, my work is an abstract response to negotiating cross-cultural experiences’ the artist explains. Recent residencies in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and Penang, Malaysia, have been integral in developing her practice.

Bridie currently works from her home studio in an old, character-filled Queenslander, which she shares with her partner, two dogs and a spritely cockatiel. Here, it’s not unusual for large canvases to spill out of her studio into the living area. Bridie works predominantly with colour to translate her experiences: ‘I decide which place and memory I want to draw from, then I think about these in relation to colour. I choose the palette I’ll use to convey that memory, and from there it’s very intuitive’ she explains. After time spent in Asia, Bridie produced a series of vibrant works, while her latest paintings consider subject-matter closer to home, exploring darker, more fundamental territory.

‘With my ‘After’ paintings I began looking to the Australian landscape, and attempting to navigate my uneasy relationship with it, as a non-Indigenous Australian. Some compositions are based on memories of travelling through rural Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, and my experiences of night-time or dusk – the unknown that comes with darkness. In contrast, other compositions reflect an immediate response to my studio surroundings in urban Brisbane.’ Bridie completed these works during the months following her Uncle’s death. ‘I see the series as a dark contemplation on the Australian landscape during my period of grief,’ she explains.

Bridie also recently launched a new artist-run exhibition space called STABLE underneath her house. ‘I’m hoping STABLE will be a positive contribution to the community that has given me so much.’

‘After’ by Bridie Gillman
November 9th to 30th
Opening night Thursday 9th November, 6-9pm
Innerspace Contemporary Art
116 Brookes Street, Fortitude Valley

Recent Studio Visit