This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Esther Stewart Unveils New Work For Melbourne Art Fair

Studio Visit

Over the past six years, young Melbourne artist Esther Stewart has established herself as one of Australia’s most collectible and celebrated contemporary artists. Her distinctive paintings utilise bold geometry and impossibly precise lines, and often reference contemporary architecture and design.

We recently caught up with Esther, ahead of her upcoming solo exhibition with Sarah Cottier Gallery at next week’s Melbourne Art Fair.

23rd July, 2018

Melbourne-based artist Esther Stewart. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Studio details. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Esther working on art for Melbourne Art Fair. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Photo – Caitlin Mills.

See Esther Stewart’s work at Sarah Cottier Gallery at the Melbourne Art Fair next month. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Lucy Feagins
Monday 23rd July 2018

‘I have always been very interested in the nexus of art and design’. – Esther Stewart.

Way back in early 2012, I first met Melbourne artist Esther Stewart. This was at a time when we didn’t work with professional photographers, so I actually photographed Esther’s studio myself. In a ramshackle little studio, in the backstreets of North Melbourne, I met this intensely serious young VCA graduate, and from that very first meeting, it was clear she was going places. ‘I have an inkling that Melbourne based artist Esther Stewart is going to be big’ I wrote in that first article. I didn’t realise just now big, though!

In the six years that have passed since that first meeting, it’s fair to say Esther has established herself as one of Australia’s most celebrated and collectible contemporary artists. Her work has evolved, becoming more complex and layered, though always retaining a focus on bold geometry, distinctive hard-edged lines, and often referencing architecture.

A number of high profile collaborations have also propelled Esther’s practice – most notably, a collaboration with Italian fashion house Valentino (YES!) back in 2015. The luxury label’s entire Autumn / Winter 2015 menswear collection was based on Esther’s paintings, and Esther was flown to Paris to preview the collection, and attend its runway debut. Not bad for a then 27-year old Australian artist!

The following year, in 2016, Esther went on to win Australia’s prestigious Sulman prize, awarded at the Art Gallery NSW for the best subject painting, genre painting or mural project by an Australian artist.

Represented by Sydney’s Sarah Cottier Gallery, Esther has spent the past five years developing her practice even further. ‘I have focussed on deepening my research, as well as broadening the kinds of other people I work and collaborate with’ Esther says. In particular, she has enjoyed working with architects to develop more ambitious, architectural projects, and other craftspeople to extend the possibilities of her practice.

We recently caught up with Esther at Gertrude Contemporary studios in Preston, where she is currently working on paintings for next week’s Melbourne Art Fair.

For people who are not so familiar with your practice, can you tell us a little about your creative inspirations and process?

I have always been very interested in the nexus of art and design – in particular, the ways I can reimagine, collapse and expand spaces through painting and architecture. There are many wide-ranging historical references in my work, including Islamic mosaic, Constructivism, Bauhaus, and the Memphis Group, but I am also very interested in the social and political implications offered by these influences.

What are you looking forward to about this year’s melbourne Art fair and what value do you see in being involved in art fairs such as this?

This year is the inauguration of the new and improved Melbourne Art Fair, which is exciting. The organisers have encouraged solo presentations, and I am pleased to say that I have been working on a solo exhibition with Sarah Cottier Gallery.

Art fairs can be overwhelming, but done well (which I think Melbourne will be), they can offer audiences a valuable glimpse of what local contemporary art currently looks like.

In recent years, the advent of social media and online marketing platforms have greatly impacted the art world, and the pace at which consumers and collectors  engage with artists and galleries. How do you feel about the changing landscape, and would you say you have embraced the changes?

Being visible in an increasingly global network has its advantages and disadvantages. If anything, I think added exposure and increased pace has been met by an equally significant resistance – a focus on the local, the physical, etc.

Can you tell us some details about the artwork you will be exhibiting at the Melbourne Art Fair?

I am working on six paintings and four carpet works. These are extensions of my current practice that will be displayed on free-standing constructs as well as the booth walls. I’ve been looking at architectural samples and concepts for display modes recently, and envisage the booth to be a deconstructed space in which the works occupy different, staggered ‘planes’ throughout.

What’s next for Esther Stewart?

I am off to Auckland, New Zealand in August for a show with Object Museum, and another with Bowerbank Ninow.

 

See Esther Stewart’s work at Sarah Cottier Gallery at the Melbourne Art Fair next month.

Melbourne Art Fair
August 2nd – 5th
Southbank Arts Precinct (alongside ACCA)
111 Sturt Street
Southbank, Victoria

View Comments

Similar Stories

Studio Visit

Cressida Campbell’s Intimate Reflections, Ahead Of Melbourne Art Fair

A studio visit in Sydney’s Bronte with one of Australia’s most esteemed artists, as she prepares an eagerly-awaited exhibition in Melbou...

Art

The Must-See Exhibits At Melbourne Art Fair 2018

We preview eye-catching artworks and installations not to be missed as Melbourne Art Fair returns next month!
Elle Murrell

This Week

42:51

Podcast

TDF Talks with Plant Designer, Jenna Holmes of Plant Mama

In this podcast conversation, Jenna of 'Plant Mama' and 'Pasta Mama' shares how she has built and grown two very different businesses from t...

Studio Visit

Dive Into The Colourful, Creative World of Melbourne's Designer-Of-The-Moment, Danielle Brustman

Know her name but not her story? Welcome to the vibrant world of designer Danielle Brustman, at her incredible studio in Collingwood Yards!
Sasha Gattermayr

News

Colourful New Kids Books From A Legendary Local Illustrator

Artist Kat MacLeod teaches us our ABCs in this super cute range of books from Thames & Hudson.
Sasha Gattermayr
  3 hours ago

News

A Starlight Summer Festival To Begin In Heide’s Sculpture Park

Get your socialising mojo back with this cultural program of dance events, music acts and Indigenous storytelling at Heide Museum of Modern
Sponsored

Homes

Louella Boitel Gill's Loved And Layered Bungalow By The Beach

Interior and furniture designer Louella Boîtel-Gill has turned her former Airbnb in the Northern Rivers into an idyllic family home.
02:40

Small Business

Our (Free!) Small Business Summer School Is Here!

Got a burning business idea but no idea where to start? Small Business Consultant Fiona Killackey is here to guide you through how to get st...
Lucy Feagins
  14 hours ago

Studio Visit

Inside The Dreamy Garden Shed Studio Of Emerging Ceramic Artist, Anni Hagberg

Introducing the graduate artist who was the recipient of The Design Files Emerging Maker Award at Craft Victoria's annual 'Fresh!' exhibitio...
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

A Victorian Terrace That Plays Design Gymnastics!

Melbourne's colour masters Wowowa are back with another clever Victorian renovation!

Architecture

A Lean, Clean Renovation To A Grand Heritage Weatherboard

ioa Studio transforms a cavernous Victorian residence into a light, bright contemporary home - and adds an element of surprise!
Sasha Gattermayr
  6 hours ago

Furniture

The Tradie Brotherhood Behind Our Newest Furniture Obsession

Brothers Jack and Mark Fearon combine their experience as a plumber and boilermaker to create the most colourful, characterful furniture goi...
Sasha Gattermayr

Stays

This Revitalised Motel With Old Hollywood Vibes Is Byron Bay's Newest Design Destination

A little bit Los Angeles, a little bit Ibiza, this beautiful new accommodation in the heart of the Northern Rivers is a showcase of local de...
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

A Sleek, Surprising Reworking Of A Victorian Cottage

A humble but innovative extension by Blair Smith Architecture has totally modernised this Victorian cottage in Brunswick.

Interiors

The 5 Rules Of Good Kitchen Design, According To Cantilever Interiors

A good kitchen starts with observing these five rules, brought to you by Australian design and manufacturing kitchen brand Cantilever Interi...

News

Swoon-Worthy Luggage For The Perfect Weekend Escape

Local luggage experts July prep us for the summer of local travel with the slick new ‘Daybreak’ range.
Sponsored

Architecture

This Couple's Home Is Two Houses In One!

Coy Yiontis Architects have designed this home with separate areas for a couple who have been living together for 50 years. His and hers goa...

Similar Stories

Studio Visit

Cressida Campbell’s Intimate Reflections, Ahead Of Melbourne Art Fair

A studio visit with one of Australia’s most esteemed artists, as she prepares an eagerly-awaited exhibition.

Art

The Must-See Exhibits At Melbourne Art Fair 2018

We preview eye-catching artworks and installations not to be missed as Melbourne Art Fair returns next month!
Elle Murrell

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.