Abbey Rich jumped into the world of public art after questioning the sustainability of working within the fashion industry.
This saw them shift from making art on clothes that would ‘inevitably end up in landfill’, to transforming ‘dull and unsafe spaces to make them perform better for the community’ with their vibrant paintings.
‘The public space is where I situate most of my work. It is where I feel most satisfied, most sure of what I’m making,’ Abbey says.
But after a six-month residency at Platform Arts in 2021, the artist’s latest body of work, titled When Nothing Makes Sense, explores how their art can belong in a smaller, inside space with the same level of playfulness.
‘The gallery [is] where I still feel unsure, but it is in this show I think I begin to meld the two and stand my ground. Finding ways to experiment inside, in the same way I would outside,’ Abbey explains.
Abbey describes the exhibition as ‘a safe, strange world to sink into’, featuring an installation of heavily patterned, brightly coloured murals, framed works and hanging sculptures – inspired by childhood and early career.
‘A lot of these shapes I work with are very flowing but lately I’ve been incorporating a lot of stripes which takes a lot more time and precision,’ they explain.
Their paintings usually take a few days to complete, but sculptures are often month’s worth of work. The pieces in the show were made during Abbey’s residency at Platform Arts, but during lockdown they had to get creative, making them out of bandaged-up toilet rolls and old newspapers from neighbours!
‘Coming out of these last few years and being able to talk about my love of painting with people again is giving me life,’ Abbey says.
‘A lot of what I do usually is about changing public space, about making spaces for everyone to feel safe and happy and I guess in part that is what this show is about too.’
See When Nothing Makes Sense at Platform Arts, Geelong from April 1 – April 29. The artworks will be for sale via the Platform Arts Stockroom, or you can shop Abbey’s other works here.