Divided Space Exhibition
Our shop opened its doors on Saturday 8th May with a complete overhaul. It became home to Divided Space – an exhibition of oil paintings by our very own Jane Coffey. The exhibition was divided into two sections – one section featured paintings inspired by the ever-changing boundaries of remnant Banksia and Tuart Woodlands still found within Perth's metro area. As a contrast, urban boundaries were explored through three paintings inspired by the North Perth town centre that were completed as part of the City of Vincent COVID Arts Relief Project.
We sat down with Jane for a little Q&A on her experience in creating the exhibition.
What inspired the creation of Divided Space?
The theme of divided space brings together my interests in bushland conservation and community history and heritage – both of which are often divided into sections or zones. This is something I’ve always been interested in but my attention was particularly drawn to it during COVID restrictions. I started during the first COVID lockdown because I suddenly had more time on my hands. Home schooling also encouraged me to go out walking and exploring my local neighbourhood and so most of the inspiration for the paintings is from what surrounds my home. I think this pause also makes you think a lot about who you are and want you are doing - I felt very strongly that I wanted to paint again.
What does your creative process look like? How does inspiration come for a piece and how do you go about creating it?
The process always starts with lots of research. I can spend hours researching the history of an area whether its bushland or our town centres. Then I do a lot of sketching - you learn so much about what you are drawing by looking at it from different viewpoints. Sketchbooks are good for this and often ideas for final paintings come out of exploring ideas without any pressure to create a final piece. The creative process can be painful and I’d like to thank all the members of my family for putting up with the times when paintings are just not ‘going right’. Adam knows very well to never answer the question “what do you think of this so far?” as no answer will be the right one.
How did COVID impact your work?
The first lockdown was very scary with lots of uncertainty; our shop was closed, schools were closed, old clients were not commissioning new work. Painting was a kind of escape, without COVID restrictions I would have not found the time to get back into it. Being a mum to two lovely children and running a small business is hard work and you’re pulled in many directions. Receiving the City of Vincent COVID Art grant took off some of the stress from not having the shop income and giving me permission to paint.
This is your first exhibition using oil paints – how did you find working in this medium?
I used to paint in oils at high school. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it after such a long break. I’ve been using some really beautiful oil paints made by Langridge Oils in Melbourne. They have very pure pigments so allow you to mix the widest range of colours. Colour is so important to me and I can be very obsessive about mixing the right colours. I’m also picky about the canvas because of my textile background - I prefer linen because of the beautiful variation in the surface.
Did you have a go-to playlist while painting?
When I first started painting I had a Scottish folk music phase, sometimes I like Hip Hop, lately the soundtrack to Hamilton has been playing a lot. It is NEVER heavy metal though. I actually love listening to audio books while painting.
What's the next project on the cards for you?
I will be showing the City of Vincent COVID Arts Project at the City of Vincent Local History Library. I’ll be showing my work alongside some of the historical maps in the collection that I used as inspiration. I also want to continue documenting the threats to our urban bushland boundaries through my paintings.
Keep up to date with Jane's work by stalking her website janecoffeyartist.com.