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

News

Extend The Lifecycle Of Designer Furniture And Lighting With Cultivated

Cult relaunches Cultivated during Melbourne Design Week – a buy-back, refurbishment and recycling service that aims to create a sustainabl...
Sponsored

Architecture

This Clever + Compact Bondi Home Feels Like A Never-Ending Holiday!

Fox Johnston architects managed to expand the footprint of this small and narrow Sydney site to create a generous, private haven!

News

The Magic And Art Of Beekeeping With Honey Fingers

Mud Australia is hosting an exhibition and in conversation event with legendary urban beekeepers Honey Fingers, moderated by artist Stanisla...
Sally Tabart

Interiors

A Crash Course In Renovating Your Own Home From Top To Bottom, With BuildHer Collective

Rebeka Morgan and Kribashini Hannon of BuildHer Collective bring us a new book containing all the info you need to embark on building or ren...
Rebeka Morgan and Kribashini Hannon

Architecture

A Surprise Garden Brings This 'Pop-Up' Home To Life

Figr creates a unique language between architectural and landscaped spaces to truly maximise this small footprint home for a family of three...

Homes

A Magical Alistair Knox-Designed Rental In Eltham!

The seriously dreamy 1970s rental home of Pop and Scott trade manager Lucienne Van Sebille, and her partner Sebastian.

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Chrissy Lafian, Founder And Creative Director Of Suku

With teams in both Melbourne and Bali, Chrissy lets us in on how she runs the lifestyle brand she's built from scratch!

News

Shop The Megan Park Archive Of More Than 10,000 Pieces!

Legendary fashion designer Megan Park has kept one of every piece she has designed over the last 22 years – and now, she’s opening h...

Architecture

A Timeless New Home In Ballarat, With Lake Views + Mid-Century Vibes

With American ‘Brady Bunch’ house vibes (!) this new home in Ballarat by Kennedy Nolan channels mid century design, with a sleek, contem...

Gardens

A Cultivated Wilderness In Inner Suburban Melbourne

Legendary landscape designer Phillip Withers completes a layered, three-tiered garden around a Toorak home designed by Cera Stribley.

On The Market

A Corner Store Turned Architectural Home Hits The Market In Brunswick

An 1883 shopfront turned architectural home with a pool and sauna is for sale in Brunswick!

Gardens

A Slice Of Primeval Paradise In Bronte

Situated on a steep site in a sometimes blustery coastal location, the planting palette for this stunning garden in Sydney is both soft, and...

Interiors

An Inspired Cosmetic Makeover Of A Perth Rental Property

This Cottesloe rental property has been majorly improved (with the landlord's agreement) by Ohlo Studio!

On The Market

This John Lautner-Inspired Sydney Home Is MAJOR House Goals (+ It’s For Sale)!

This dream house in Sydney's Castle Cove designed by Terroir architects and Pascale Gomes-McNabb is for sale!

Stays

The Fabulous New Store And Apartment From Colour Queen Chela Edmunds!

The Takeawei Ceramics founder shows us around her sunny new store in Fitzroy, and the cutest-ever apartment upstairs (yep, you can stay ther...

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

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Chrissy Lafian, Founder And Creative Director Of Suku

With teams in both Melbourne and Bali, Chrissy lets us in on how she runs the lifestyle brand she's built from scratch!

Architecture

A Timeless New Home In Ballarat, With Lake Views + Mid-Century Vibes

With American ‘Brady Bunch’ house vibes (!) this new home in Ballarat by Kennedy Nolan channels mid century design, with a sleek, contem...

Architecture

This Clever + Compact Bondi Home Feels Like A Never-Ending Holiday!

Fox Johnston architects managed to expand the footprint of this small and narrow Sydney site to create a generous, private haven!

News

Extend The Lifecycle Of Designer Furniture And Lighting With Cultivated

Cult relaunches Cultivated during Melbourne Design Week – a buy-back, refurbishment and recycling service that aims to create a sustainabl...
Sponsored

Interiors

A Crash Course In Renovating Your Own Home From Top To Bottom, With BuildHer Collective

Rebeka Morgan and Kribashini Hannon of BuildHer Collective bring us a new book containing all the info you need to embark on building or ren...
Rebeka Morgan and Kribashini Hannon

Gardens

A Slice Of Primeval Paradise In Bronte

Situated on a steep site in a sometimes blustery coastal location, the planting palette for this stunning garden in Sydney is both soft, and...

News

Shop The Megan Park Archive Of More Than 10,000 Pieces!

Legendary fashion designer Megan Park has kept one of every piece she has designed over the last 22 years – and now, she’s opening h...

Homes

A Magical Alistair Knox-Designed Rental In Eltham!

The seriously dreamy 1970s rental home of Pop and Scott trade manager Lucienne Van Sebille, and her partner Sebastian.

Stays

The Fabulous New Store And Apartment From Colour Queen Chela Edmunds!

The Takeawei Ceramics founder shows us around her sunny new store in Fitzroy, and the cutest-ever apartment upstairs (yep, you can stay ther...

Interiors

An Inspired Cosmetic Makeover Of A Perth Rental Property

This Cottesloe rental property has been majorly improved (with the landlord's agreement) by Ohlo Studio!

Architecture

A Surprise Garden Brings This 'Pop-Up' Home To Life

Figr creates a unique language between architectural and landscaped spaces to truly maximise this small footprint home for a family of three...

On The Market

A Corner Store Turned Architectural Home Hits The Market In Brunswick

An 1883 shopfront turned architectural home with a pool and sauna is for sale in Brunswick!

News

The Magic And Art Of Beekeeping With Honey Fingers

Mud Australia is hosting an exhibition and in conversation event with legendary urban beekeepers Honey Fingers, moderated by artist Stanisla...
Sally Tabart

On The Market

This John Lautner-Inspired Sydney Home Is MAJOR House Goals (+ It’s For Sale)!

This dream house in Sydney's Castle Cove designed by Terroir architects and Pascale Gomes-McNabb is for sale!

Gardens

A Cultivated Wilderness In Inner Suburban Melbourne

Legendary landscape designer Phillip Withers completes a layered, three-tiered garden around a Toorak home designed by Cera Stribley.

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.