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

Sam Michelle's Realist Still-Lifes Capture The Beauty Of Two Landscapes

Art

Artist Sam Michelle has been quietly creating art for twenty years. The last time we caught up with the realist painter she had nervously decided to take the leap away from a longstanding corporate profession and towards a creative one. And it worked! We are always down for celebrating that kind of bravery.

Three years on, the artist now works from her home studio in Blind Bight, a tiny coastal town 55 kilometres south-east of Melbourne, where she paints her sharp, vivid oil-on-canvas paintings in a detached studio beside her living room. We caught up with the artist ahead of her solo exhibition at Gallerysmith next month.

24th August, 2020

‘Australian Flora’, 2020. Photo – Suzi Appel.

‘NZ & Australian Natives’, 2020. Photo – Suzi Appel.

Sam in her studio. Photo – Suzi Appel.

‘NZ Flora’ diptych, 2020. Photo – Suzi Appel.

Sam at work. Photo – Suzi Appel.

‘NZ Kowhai, Hydrangea & Flax’, 2020. Photo – Suzi Appel.

‘Feijoas’, 2020. Photo – Suzi Appel.

‘The Tui & Flax’, 2020. Photo – Suzi Appel.

”Feijoa, Kiwifruit & Apples’, 2020. Photo – Suzi Appel.

‘Dual Citizen’ opens on September 17th. Photo – Suzi Appel.

Sasha Gattermayr
Monday 24th August 2020

‘Painting for me was always a precocious, personal outlet that I kept private for many years, self-directed but always learning.’ – Sam Michelle

When artist Sam Michelle left her career in finance to pursue realist painting six years ago, it had been twenty years since she’d first picked up a paintbrush, and only one since she exhibited publicly for the first time. But artistic passion was in her blood, and it fuelled her determination.

‘My maternal grandfather was a jewellery designer and my nana was a ceramicist and china painter, so we were surrounded by creatives and creating while growing up,’ she explains of her idyllic childhood in New Zealand. ‘My interest in flowers and still life developed from there.’

From the ‘quiet little hamlet’ of Blind Bight, an hour’s drive from Melbourne, she now paints her striking realist paintings, depicting sumptuous native flower arrangements and delicate domestic scenes. Her admiration for ceramicists and textile designers has begun to infiltrate these household tableus, appearing in details like tablecloths and fruit bowls.

‘Painting for me was always a precocious, personal outlet that I kept private for many years, self-directed but always learning,’ she explains of her quiet pursuit. ‘But I feel really connected to this new body of work and because of that, I feel that it has taken me into a new phase of my career. I can’t wait to explore that further.’

That body of work is her most recent collection of paintings, those which make up her upcoming exhibition, Dual Citizen. The series has been created to commemorate this year as the balance point in Sam’s life, the timestamp between her first 18 years in New Zealand and the last 18 years she has spent in Australia. This neat cleave between the two places she calls home is one of the tidier metaphors in what has been a messy and chaotic year.

‘Although I call New Zealand home, these works acknowledge that I feel this way about Australia also,’ she reflects. The series of paintings begins by depicting sentimental slices of Sam’s childhood: a basket of feijoas, the flowers in her grandmother’s garden and the sea crabs accidentally trodden on while swimming at the beach. These scenes of youthful bliss give way to new visions of a distinct Australian tablescape, one filled with banksia, wattle and hakea. Sam uses native landscapes as signifiers to mark the shift between her homes, but integrates them with a flawless style and precision.

When you consider the amount of native flora surrounding Sam’s studio, it’s no wonder she’s constantly inspired by the natural world. With the award-winning Cranbourne gardens just a ten-minute drive away, plenty of coastal gardens and local nurseries to peek into, there is no shortage of new subject matter!

Presales for Sam’s exhibition ‘Dual Citizen’ opens this Thursday August 29th, contact Gallerysmith to be put on the mailing list.  

‘Dual Citizens’ is due to open to the public from September 17th to October 10th. This will depend on Victoria’s current restrictions.

This Week

On The Market

The Perfect Mid-Century, NSW South Coast Beach House Is For Sale

This mid-century Mollymook Beach house is perfect in its proportions, feel and water views... and it's on the market!

Studio Visit

The Graduate Designer Pushing The Limits Of Traditional Furniture Design

Brigitte Owers-Buccianti is the designer behind Real Non-Real, an exciting new practice making multi-functional furniture pieces.

Family

Artist Miranda Skoczek On Single Parenting, Smelling The Roses + Spontaneity

Artist Miranda Skoczek shares her multigenerational family life in the Dandenongs with son Harper and aunt Margaret.

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life With Trailblazing Curator, Shonae Hobson

Inside the day of Kaantju woman and curator of Indigenous art at the NGV, Shonae Hobson!

News

Melbourne's Futuristic New Gallery For Art + Science

Excitement is high – the latest museum in the international Science Gallery Network opens in Melbourne today!
Sponsored

Architecture

A Minimal Intervention Weatherboard Home Makeover

A Seddon weatherboard renovation by Circle Studio Architects that doesn’t erase its past, but firmly enhances its future.

Shopping

The Ultimate Outdoor Furniture Guide

From sleek and chic to fun and playful, here are four different schemes for the outdoor dining situation of your dreams!

Words From The Wise

Pushing Against The Status Quo As A Creative Professional, With Designer Timothy Moore

Sibling Architecture director and co-founder Timothy Moore shares refreshing advice about embarking on a career in architecture and design -...
Haroula Karapanagiotidis

Homes

An Incredible 1896 Waterfront House, Accessible Only By Boat

Garden designer Richard Unsworth shares ‘Trincomalee’ – his magical 1896 waterfront home in northern Sydney, accessible only by boat.
Lucy Feagins
  21 hours ago

News

Save Soho Rose Farm!

Donate to help save Victoria’s most beautiful field-grown roses, after a devastating hail storm. 

Creative People

Creating Original, Ever-Changing Gardens With Kep Horticulture’s Andy Kepitis

Kep Horticulture founder Andy Kepitis talks how to create dynamic gardens, and his aversion to 'certain' plant palettes!

Architecture

A Traditional Queenslander Turned Multigenerational, Japanese-Inspired Home

Arcke architects lifted this Queenslander to accommodate a two-bedroom apartment underneath, and provide better connections to the outdoors

Homes

The Experimental Melbourne Home Of Two Artists

The 'warped maximalist colour feast' home of artists Nabilah Nordin and Nick Modrzewski in Newport, Melbourne.

Stays

Stay Off-Grid In A Tiny House, Or Restored 1890s Hut, On The One NSW Property!

Escape to one of two tiny houses or a restored 1890 hut at Wildernest, located on the edge of the NSW Southern Highlands.

News

WIN A One-Of-A-Kind Artwork By Local Artist Dave Kulesza - aka Boris Bombay!

Bombay Sapphire are giving away a nostalgia-fuelled, pop art-esque tiled artwork by Boris Bombay (aka Dave Kulesza) to one lucky winner!
Sponsored

View Comments

Similar Stories

TDF Collect

TDF Collect Presents 'Devotions' By Lucy Roleff

The much-anticipated debut solo show from the Melbourne realist painter is here!

Art

Sam Michelle · Flourish

The Mornington-based painter unveils her solo exhibition, which will go on show in Sydney next week. We’re not only fond of her charmin...
Elle Murrell

Art

Baden Croft's Landscape Paintings Quiver With Human Energy

The young Mornington Peninsula artist capturing the Australian ecosystem in exquisite detail, stillness and gore.
Sasha Gattermayr

This Week

News

WIN A One-Of-A-Kind Artwork By Local Artist Dave Kulesza - aka Boris Bombay!

Bombay Sapphire are giving away a nostalgia-fuelled, pop art-esque tiled artwork by Boris Bombay (aka Dave Kulesza) to one lucky winner!
Sponsored

News

Save Soho Rose Farm!

Donate to help save Victoria’s most beautiful field-grown roses, after a devastating hail storm. 

News

Melbourne's Futuristic New Gallery For Art + Science

Excitement is high – the latest museum in the international Science Gallery Network opens in Melbourne today!
Sponsored

Creative People

Creating Original, Ever-Changing Gardens With Kep Horticulture’s Andy Kepitis

Kep Horticulture founder Andy Kepitis talks how to create dynamic gardens, and his aversion to 'certain' plant palettes!

Homes

The Experimental Melbourne Home Of Two Artists

The 'warped maximalist colour feast' home of artists Nabilah Nordin and Nick Modrzewski in Newport, Melbourne.

Family

Artist Miranda Skoczek On Single Parenting, Smelling The Roses + Spontaneity

Artist Miranda Skoczek shares her multigenerational family life in the Dandenongs with son Harper and aunt Margaret.

Stays

Stay Off-Grid In A Tiny House, Or Restored 1890s Hut, On The One NSW Property!

Escape to one of two tiny houses or a restored 1890 hut at Wildernest, located on the edge of the NSW Southern Highlands.

Shopping

The Ultimate Outdoor Furniture Guide

From sleek and chic to fun and playful, here are four different schemes for the outdoor dining situation of your dreams!

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life With Trailblazing Curator, Shonae Hobson

Inside the day of Kaantju woman and curator of Indigenous art at the NGV, Shonae Hobson!

Words From The Wise

Pushing Against The Status Quo As A Creative Professional, With Designer Timothy Moore

Sibling Architecture director and co-founder Timothy Moore shares refreshing advice about embarking on a career in architecture and design -...
Haroula Karapanagiotidis

Studio Visit

The Graduate Designer Pushing The Limits Of Traditional Furniture Design

Brigitte Owers-Buccianti is the designer behind Real Non-Real, an exciting new practice making multi-functional furniture pieces.

Homes

An Incredible 1896 Waterfront House, Accessible Only By Boat

Garden designer Richard Unsworth shares ‘Trincomalee’ – his magical 1896 waterfront home in northern Sydney, accessible only by boat.
Lucy Feagins
  21 hours ago

Architecture

A Minimal Intervention Weatherboard Home Makeover

A Seddon weatherboard renovation by Circle Studio Architects that doesn’t erase its past, but firmly enhances its future.

On The Market

The Perfect Mid-Century, NSW South Coast Beach House Is For Sale

This mid-century Mollymook Beach house is perfect in its proportions, feel and water views... and it's on the market!

Architecture

A Traditional Queenslander Turned Multigenerational, Japanese-Inspired Home

Arcke architects lifted this Queenslander to accommodate a two-bedroom apartment underneath, and provide better connections to the outdoors

Similar Stories

TDF Collect

TDF Collect Presents 'Devotions' By Lucy Roleff

The much-anticipated debut solo show is here!

Art

Sam Michelle · Flourish

The Mornington-based painter unveils her solo exhibition, which will go on show in Sydney next week.
Elle Murrell

Art

Baden Croft's Landscape Paintings Quiver With Human Energy

The young Mornington Peninsula artist capturing the Australian ecosystem in exquisite detail, stillness and gore.
Sasha Gattermayr

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.