Ahead of her upcoming exhibition, we sat down with Wellington based artist Anna Stichbury to find out what shapes her world, from an average day in the life to what matters most.
Why do you do what you do?
Simple answer to this question is because I can’t stop. I know, I’ve tried. I’ve tried taking holidays without “working”. Can’t do it. Even if I leave all my art supplies behind I end up scribbling ideas on receipts or taking reference photos of fabulous colours and textures, my mind won’t ever stop planning or imagining new artworks. I have accepted that being creative and “doing what I do” is just a part of me that doesn’t have an off switch. It’s how I view the world. It’s my permanent filter.
Plus, playing with paint is good fun and I love it!
What does an average day look like?
An average work day for me usually starts with about four cups of earl grey tea and bit of procrastinating. After that it’s a few short steps to my purpose built studio in the garden, averting my eyes from the weeds, dry leaves and other jobs that threaten to distract me further! I usually start by scribbling a list of the day’s most important tasks on a scrap of paper and then promptly ignoring it to work on the thing I am most excited about for the morning. This can be anything from responding to emails, sketching up new ideas, updating my website, experimenting or working on a painting. The afternoons are usually spent concentrating on painting; I often have a group of pieces I am working on at one time and while one is drying I add more layers to another. My studio is small and my artworks large so it can get pretty crowded at times. It can also be isolating working on my own each day so I always have RNZ and a constant warm cup of tea to keep me company.
What wouldn’t you do without?
I wouldn’t do without my humans. My family and friends of course, my artist friends and colleagues and their idea swapping and honesty, my suppliers who enable me to access the latest materials or specific and often slightly out of the box requests, my galleries and all the folk who represent me and my work with a great mix of professionalism and warmth, my clients and collectors who enable us all to do our jobs and who are always, without exception, an absolute pleasure to work with.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
‘Just be yourself’. This sounds simple enough but being yourself as an artist means creating work that is truly and uniquely your own. It’s having the confidence to create something from nothing and then sharing it with the world. There is nowhere to hide as the artist. My work isn’t made by a team or by consensus, it’s just me standing there whether it is a failure or a success. Being myself means I make art that is authentic and honest. My hope is that people will connect with my paintings, that they will see something in them that invokes an emotional response. That response is like a conversation between me and you. A simple, honest uncomplicated interaction that comes from ‘just being yourself’.
Can you recall a time where you found inspiration in an unexpected place, time, or thing?
This happens so often! I am interested in texture and colour and the world is full of these, absolutely bursting with them! There are the obvious like the everchanging ocean, land and sky of course, and I just can’t go past an interesting butterfly or colourful creature. But I also find inspiration in places unexpected like the crumbling paint on a wall or texture of a piece of weathered metal. Probably the one that comes to mind to answer this question would be my favourite lamp post. Yes, I have a favourite. In a seaside suburb in Wellington there is a particularly attractive weathered old painted wooden lamp post. My heart skipped a beat when I first saw it! Strangely my companions who are both artists didn’t see its charm. But I do, and I have revisited it on several occasions to take reference photos. Yep. Love that old post.
What role does the artist have in society?
I think every artist would have their own unique answer to this question. For me personally what it boils down to, and at the core of everything, is to make something that creates the opportunity for happiness.
Anna Stichbury’s solo exhibition of new paintings opens on Tuesday 16th March at the Parnell Art Gallery.