Maria Stoljar interviewed Wendy Sharpe for episode 45 of the 'Talking with Painters' podcast in May 2018. Wendy talks about her work in progress for her exhibition 'Paris Windows'
PARIS WINDOWS - Imagined lives
I first visited Paris in 1987 on a traveling art scholarship and artist studio residency at Cite Internationale des Arts. I have stayed there several times since, also in many hotels and apartments. In 2010 my partner Bernard Ollis and I bought an apartment in northern Montmartre, where we live part of every year. We are lucky to have 9-metre-long balcony, wide enough for narrow tables and chairs. We are on the 6th floor /top (with a tiny lift) and have a stunning view of apartments, roofs and chimneys leading up the hill towards Sacré Coeur.
When we first moved in to the apartment I realised how close we were to those around us and wondered what the etiquette was - do you acknowledge the people you see around you every day? I then discovered unspoken ‘pretend privacy’ of the 6th floor. You act as though you see nothing. An odd situation, where you can see glimpses of the intimate world of people you don’t know. Some of the images in this exhibition are based on our neighbours and people I have actually seen though not literally depicted, and some are entirely imagined. The rooms are mysterious, like fragments of unknown plays, sometimes a set waiting for the action to start. The viewer imagines their own narratives all of which are valid. I loved making up characters, décor and scenarios. Like most of us, I am intrigued by other lives, other alternatives. I was a bit worried all this might seem a bit too voyeuristic or creepy, but then really it is fiction.
The paintings relate to Hitchcock’s classic film Rear Window (in french Fenêtre sur Cour) although an American film set in New York, it has a particular resonance in Paris. Central Paris is said to be the most densely populated city in Europe. I looked again at American artist Edwards Hopper’s New York window paintings, and also many German Expressionist artists between the wars - including the wood cuts of Frans Marsereel The City -a Vision, the paintings of Max Beckmann, Conrad Felixmueller, Marianne von Werefrin and others.
We have nick names for many of our actual neighbours, as no doubt they do for us.
“The Writer”- a woman who sits on her balcony every morning in a green dressing gown drinks coffee and writes something non- stop in a thick exercise book. What is she writing?
“The Intellectuals”- a man who actually wears a cravat and is often seen reading in a leather chair next to an overflowing book case.
“The Don Quixote’s” named after the Poster of Picasso’s Don Quixote above the TV that is always on, while young women (students?) lie around on bean bags eating Pizzas - the pizza motor bike delivery across the road is always for them.
“The Smokers” - a couple who always used to come out on the balcony opposite to smoke, now she has quit and is pregnant. Who is that woman with her husband?
I am fascinated by the way you can live so close to people and not know them. Across the road from us we see little bits of ‘drama’ in rooms next to each other. They may have no idea who is just a wall away. It is sometimes hard to know which rooms are part of the same apartment or if they are totally separate, for example our bedroom shares a wall with the next building, we can hear children running and laughing. They are in different buildings with a different entrance. The people opposite would see us and them together but we have no idea who they are.
Wendy Sharpe 2018
GALLERY LINK SMH Article
A solo exhibition/installation works on paper and wall drawing at Maitland Regional Art Gallery, NSW.
Me and the Skeleton (detail), 2015, gouache with oil wax pastel, 76cm x 57cm
Interiors, an exhibition curated by Gavin Wilson from the work of eighteen artists includes paintings by Wendy Sharpe. The selection of Sharpe paintings includes some from her residency at Haefliger Cottage, Hill End.
In the exhibition catalogue, Wilson writes of the painting pictured above: During her inaugural residency at the cottage, Wendy Sharpe was keenly aware of the surrounds, finding inspiration from all aspects of the cottage including the idiosyncratic showering arrangement. It required a canvas bag of hot water to be raised by a rope pulley, releasing the water through a valve. Looking at In the shower, Hill End 1994, we see the artist mastering the challenge with her inimitable verve and wit.
The National Art School Fellowship acknowledges the achievements of eminent visual artists, arts administrators,writers, advocates and academics who have made outstanding contributions to the visual arts community in Australia. The Fellowship is an honorary award for exceptional achievement and / or service within the professional domain, awarded annually by the National Art School.
The 2018 recipients of National Art School Fellowships have been announced, with the honour bestowed upon renowned painters Wendy Sharpe and Michael Johnson.The 2018 Fellows were honoured at a celebratory dinner on Thursday 24 May 2018, held at the National Art School in a gallery space that was once the studio of celebrated Australian sculptor and NAS teacher, Rayner Hoff. Presented at the annual Graduation ceremony alongside completing Bachelor and Master of Fine Art students, the Fellowship is the School’s highest award. Director Steven Alderton says of the Fellows: “In recognising these two prominent alumni, we are recognising their immense contributions to Australian art. Their work and their careers are inspirations to our students.”
"NAS has always been a place for artists – enthusiastic, creative and exciting, where making art is the most important thing. It has always had a wonderful camaraderie between staff and students and an atmosphere of working, and experimenting. The central place of drawing in the curriculum is to be applauded and I hope will never change. NAS helps students to understand the artistic process, setting them up for life – not merely giving them a degree. This is only art school I would study in myself if I was starting out now.'Wendy Sharpe, 2018.NAS LINK
Artists, writers and composers have travelled to foreign countries in search of new experiences, since the days of the grand tour, often producing some of their most original and important work. In different surroundings, all the senses are heightened and there is a freshness of vision which is communicated directly to the viewer. Whenever I arrive for the first time in a foreign environment, the best way I can begin to get an understanding of what it looks like, how things are connected, and how people move in and out of it, is to sit and draw it. After a while what was incomprehensible, starts to make sense. Travel and painting are my two preoccupations. I am always planning my next trip. This travel obsession started when I won a travelling scholarship in my 20’s, since then I have travelled as often as possible. I now live part of every year working in my Paris apartment with my partner Bernard Ollis. There is nothing more exciting than wandering through the streets of a foreign city, whether the cultural differences are subtle or dramatic. Newness and difference intensify the experience and can give a deeper understanding of yourself. The painting and drawings are not postcards or reportage, they are about the actual experience of being there - they help to distil the experience. As Susan Sontag says, I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list. This exhibition includes work from places such as France, Italy, Antarctica, Cambodia, Mexico, Laos, India and country Australia. Most of the work on paper in this exhibition was made on site.
- Wendy Sharpe 2018
Wendy Sharpe was a judge for the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize 2017. From left to right: Peter Moran, Daniel Thomas, Greta Moran, Wendy Sharpe, Mclean Edwards, and winner of the 2017 Doug Moran Prize Tim Storrier.Moran Ats Link
Wendy Sharpe was the artist judge of the Black Swan Prize for Portraiture at Art Gallery of Western Australia in Perth. She is pictured here with Curators Dr Sarah Engledow (National Portrait Gallery) and Melissa Harpley (Art Gallery of WA).AGWA LINK
Thirty seven artworks by Wendy Sharpe graced the Sydney offices of Clayton Utz for its inaugural Arts Partnership, Clayton Utz Deputy Chief Executive Partner Bruce Cooper said the new partnership was an innovative concept, offering a unique cultural experience for the firm's clients and people.
The Clayton Utz Art Partnership – aims to support Australian artists and share their talents with a wider audience through regular six-monthly art exhibitions and an Artist-in-Residence program at the firm's 1 Bligh Street premises in Sydney.
Above: (detail) Demoiselles Darlinghurst 2012 Oil on linen 182 x 182cm
Wendy Sharpe recreated Hogarth’s 'The Enraged Musician' in front of an audience, to the sounds of the Australian Art Quartet. Wendy described the scene depicted (pictured above with Sharpe's drawing overlayed) in William Hogarth’s engraving The Enraged Musician. “We have a man trying to play what looks like a violin, with his hands clasped over his ears in despair because outside there are all these people on the streets, screaming baby, barking dog and he just can’t concentrate because of the racket.
Australia's Classical Music and Arts Magazine Limelight published an article on the event by Angus McPherson.Limelight article
From Hogarth to Westconnex: Wendy Sharpe tackles contemporary Sydney Sydney Morning Herald by Garry Maddox July 12 2017SMH article
The photograph shows Australian artist Evelyn Chapman painting a ruined church at Villers-Bretonneux on the Western Front in 1919. Wendy has been a studying Evelyn Chapman after making a visit to this location.
Wendy Sharpe in discussion with curator Justin Paton on the desirable nude.
One type of nude inspires special fascination and anxiety, the nude that expresses desire.
Produced in conjunction with the exhibition NUDE: Art from the Tate collection - The exhibition was held in early in 2017 at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
The Witches" MP Craig Kelly prefers Shakespeare without bottom!!
Appalling or not - place a vote in The Huffington Post's opinion poll'.READ MORE
Call me a philistinee - The Sydney Morning Herald quotes Sharpe's description of the work.READ MORE
Liberal MP prefers Shakespeare sans Bottom.READ MORE
Greens MP Adam Bandt said: "The human body is far from the most offensive thing on show in this building".
Wendy Sharpe formed the subject of a feature in the bi-monthly magazine of The Art Gallery Society of NSW magazine 'LOOK'.AGNSW LINK
Wendy has been working in Paris on a number of things including a project in Quai Saint Michel in a studio on the Seine nearly opposite Notre Dame. It is next to the studio where Matisse lived, there is the same view from the windows. Wendy has several projects underway in Paris including drawing and painting the French burlesque dancers. Wendy has been drawing in New York City (pictured above) and also in Mexico.SELECTED WORK
I have drawn portraits of 39 refugees and asylum seekers as a contribution to creating public awareness of the challenges they face and to introduce us to a few of these people.
All of the portraits are in full colour and are drawn in pastel. They are drawn from life in 2-3 hours. I am drawing people:
*Who are living legally in the community while they wait for their applications for protection to be processed.
*Who have recently been granted protection and are starting to rebuild their lives in Australia
*Who Came to Australia in earlier periods and have since made an enormous contribution to Australia.
This is not about politics. It is about our common humanity. I want to show that they are people like us, with the same hopes and dreams. Many of those I have met during this project have fled situations of great danger, whether it is political, cultural or religious.
I cannot even imagine how it would feel to have to leave everything behind. But they have had to leave their family, their home, their culture and their country. They have survived and are now focussed on rebuilding their lives, starting all over again. They have been an incredible inspiration.
Early in 2015 an exhibition was formed in conjunction with the Asylum Seekers Centre in Sydney. Cards accompanying each portrait contained a brief story about why they came here, their hopes and dreams for the future, as well as their personal interests
I did not be receive any commission at all, from the exhibition, I felt it would be wrong to do so. All money raised went to support the Asylum Seekers Centre. The Centre provides personal and practical support to over 1,500 asylum seekers, such as legal advice, accommodation, health care, food and employment assistance. As a grassroots, non-profit organisation, it has to rely on grants, donations and volunteers to undertake its work.
After kicking off in Sydney the exhibition moved to Canberra then Penrith Regional Gallery.
I wanted to attract people who have not been involved with asylum seekers but are concerned or confused about who they are and why they come to Australia.
A video was made during the portrait sittings in which I discuss the concept behind the project as well as the drawing process. This video can be viewed at www.asylumseekerscentre.org.au
A catalogue was also produced, containing the portraits and the individual stories.
I also gave those asylum seekers and refugees who participated a small signed copy of their portrait to as a personal thank you.
One of the most rewarding aspects of the project has been to see the asylum seekers relax while I draw them. They ask me to see them for the people they really are, not a group of people who have been given a label. They say that just for a few hours, it is an escape from the daily stress and worry about their current and future lives.
Links, to videos and further information:
Asylum Seekers Centre time lapse video - Michael Amendolia, editor Matt Feeney (1.5min).
Asylum Seekers Centre web page includes a video.VISIT LINK
Article by Stephanie Wood - Sydney Morning Herald Jan 23rd 2015.READ MORE
Condobolin Argus Doctor May exhibits refugee success.Feb 5th 2015READ MORE
ABC Radio National visit link to listen or download Sharpe talking about her art (broadcast 9/2/2015)VISIT LINK
Wendy Sharpe was invited onboard the vessel Aurora Australis as a guest of the Australian Antarctic Division. Sharpe's constant painting and sketching over this 6 week trip to repair and preserve the Mawson Huts, resulted in two exhibitions (Sydney and Hobart). The exhibitions were sponsored by Kordia Solutions and the Australian National Maritime Museum. All proceeds from the exhibitions went to the conservation of Mawson's Huts.
Sharpe in Antartica with the Mawson's Huts Foundation. filmed and produced by Nick Roden
A 106 page book of the Antarctic paintings was available at the exhibition (ISBN 978-0-9803515-9-02011).VIEW PROJECT
Wendy Sharpe & Bernard Ollis are delighted by thier new aquisition in Montmartre. The apartment is both a flat and a studio and makes for a fantastic base in Europe.
Wendy Sharpe is featured in the DVD and book STUDIO: Australian Painters on the Nature of Creativity by Ian Lloyd and John Macdonald, will be launched with an exhibition of photographs at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra on Friday July 13th 2007. (for further details visit).IAN LLOYD LINK
Literally in the picture here at the protest in Sydney over threats to the survival of The National Art School. Wendy keeps a keen eye on the future of this important institution that can trace its origins back over 150 years.NAS LINK