When we put out the call for our Australian Rising Talent artist search, the number of submissions was overwhelming, as was realising the depth and diversity of creative talent around the country.
After careful review of the many entries, we managed to narrow the selection down to a winner and five shortlisted finalists.
So without further ado we are proud to announce the winner of our first Rising Talent artists competition, Melbourne based Alizon Gray... congratulations Alizon!
With a Bachelor of Fine Arts with honours from Victorian College of the Arts, Alizon is a talented abstract artist, recognised for her vivid illusory landscapes and expressive use of colour.
As the winner of the competition, Alizon will now be represented by Fenton & Fenton. She has already produced a body of work available to view online and at our Collingwood showroom and will also exhibit in our Winter Exhibition in May. Expect to see a lot more of this clever lady.
We caught up with Alizon in her home studio to discuss her artistic influences, creative process and how she spends her time when she isn’t creating new works of art.
How would you describe your artistic style?
I think of my paintings as abstract landscapes, not necessarily abstracted representations of real places. The colours I use bear no relationship to colours in the natural world, but there is something about the way I compose my paintings that for me, feels like a landscape. I grew up on the Mornington Peninsula and always had a lot of space around me, so I find myself trying to recreate the feeling of that space. It is a way for me to reconnect to the landscape in a way.
What influences your work?
Colour. I love looking at the work of artists like Ken Done, Katherina Grosse, and Sally Gabori who have such a beautiful approach to bold colour and confident mark-marking. I’m sure I borrow from this. Making colourful paintings makes me feel happy.
I really love Ken Done's philosophy around painting: the idea that paintings can be beautiful objects that grow with you and give pleasure over time, that you can find something new every time you look at them. This is something that I also really try to bring to my work.
Can you tell us a little bit about your creative process?
I usually start a painting by putting down either a layer of single colour or some quick brush marks around the edge of the canvas. From there I will build up lots of layers of colour and random marks (squiggles, blobs, dots, lines, shapes). My creative process is very intuitive and responsive. I generally don’t have any idea where my paintings will end up. It’s like we go on a journey together and eventually it comes to an end. It can be a challenge to know when an abstract painting is ‘finished’. For me it is when all of the elements in the painting seem to come together and there is a sense of pause or calm.
Not all of my time in the studio is physical painting time. Sometimes up to 90% of my painting time is spent 'looking' at my paintings rather than actually putting paint on canvas. This could be misconstrued as procrastination, but it is a vital part of my practice. This time spent looking at my paintings is quiet reflection as well as careful consideration for the next mark and overall aesthetic. Sometimes the marks are spontaneous, whilst others are carefully considered.
How do you spend your time when you’re not creating?
I love to be outside and if I can get somewhere by riding my bike I will. I really love to swim and try to get to the Fitzroy pool a couple of times a week for some laps - I am (slowly) working my way up to 2km.
I am really lucky, my mum passed on her piano to me. I learnt when I was growing up and when I moved out of home I let it go. Now that I have a piano of my own I am really enjoying picking it up again. It’s a great thing to do when I feel like doing something creative but need a break from the studio.
I have a growing collection of houseplants so I spend a lot of time watering… and procuring more. I cannot seem to pass by a nursery without ‘accidentally’ buying another plant. I feel like having plants around me is amazingly calming.
My fave thing to do on a Saturday morning is to sit in bed with a coffee and a crossword. I often lose the whole morning to this. I also love to eat breakfast in bed and I often get in trouble from my husband for leaving crumbs under the sheets (even if he kindly brought me the toast).
As an ex-resident of Collingwood, can you share with us a few of your favourite hangout spots?
Fave bar – Nighthawks!
Best pizza – Mamma Vittoria (technically Fitzroy as it’s on the other side of Smith St).
Best bread – Cromwell STREAT – also great coffee and works on a social enterprise model giving skills to disadvantaged young people so a really great place to support.
Fave place to walk / ride / sit / contemplate – Yarra Bend Park specifically the area around Deep Rock and the Collingwood Children’s Farm.
Discover Alizon Gray's artwork here.