FOCUS catches up with home grown artist, Vicki White, to talk about her artistic inspirations, her work and latest exhibition at the Manning Regional Gallery.
Name: Vicki White.
You were born here in Taree. What is one of your fondest memories of growing up in the Manning Valley?
The fondest memories of growing up in the Manning Valley would have to be visiting my extended family throughout the area. I think every corner of the Manning had a relative ensconced there – from Tinonee, Wingham, Moto, and everyplace in between!
You still have family here and are a regular visitor. What do you love most about visiting the Manning Great Lakes?
One of the things I most love about visiting the Manning Great Lakes area is going on extended drives out to the beaches, up into the hills, and standing out looking at the wonderful views from all the vantage points that the area offers.
I still catch my breath reaching the top of the hill on the highway driving into the Manning Valley, looking out over Taree, and think what a stunning, dramatic view it is. I know I’m home then.
Tell us a little bit about the philosophy behind your art.
I’m a figurative painter working in the traditional genres of still life, landscape and the interior. My images are like meditations on the physical and spiritual experience of a ‘place’, and I like to play with narrative, symbolism and metaphor to translate my observations of the human condition into paint.
You are about to have an exhibition at the Regional Gallery here in Taree. Where did you draw your inspiration for this collection of works?
My inspiration for the exhibition is from time spent in Bobin and Comboyne over the last few years. My maternal grandmother grew up in Comboyne, and the area has a particular emotional pull on me, along with the sheer dramatic beauty of the place.
What can people expect from this exhibition?
This exhibition consists of 30 oil on canvas paintings. The title of the show, The Rock in the River, is from a poem of the same name, written by my maternal great grandfather James Clark Kennedy, who lived on the Comboyne Plateau. The sentiment behind his poem is the premise behind the paintings.
Apart from your painting, you also work in ceramics. What is it that draws you to this medium?
Clay is so hands on, and it’s the precision within the skill of throwing that I find challenging, but also invigorating. It also allows me to make a mistake, throw it away, and start again! (See my favourite quote to live by below!)
Are there any artists who inspire you?
I find any artist who has nurtured a personal vision derived from broader cultural, social or historical influences is inspiring to me – whatever media they choose to work within.
However, the English painters like Stanley Spencer, Paula Rego, and the Scottish artist John Bellany have all given me a greater insight into the figurative tradition in which I work.
Your partner is Eric Lobbecke, cartoonist/ illustrator / artist, whom we had the pleasure of meeting a few months ago. What is it like having two artists in the same house, and have you ever allowed him do caricatures of you?
Eric and I have always worked well together and have been supportive of each other’s art practice. I think it helps that we understand the discipline that is required to make the work, and that it doesn’t matter that the housework doesn’t get done and that we’re always tripping over artwork in the hallway!
I’ve always allowed him to do caricatures of me, but after 26 years he still hasn’t captured me properly! Too close for comfort, I think!
You have done a lot of study in your career and even a residence program with the Arthur Boyd Trust. What is your advice to young artists in regards to formal study?
I think the main thing about formal study is that you gather fellow peers in the other students around you. You go on the journey together and you never stop learning from each other, long after you leave art school.
Favourite quote or words to live by?
“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”