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Artistic Perth

The warm glow of the afternoon sun shines through the windows of Roberta’s balcony door. A cool breeze follows, refreshing the hot Perth summers day. She sighs with the relief of being alone to her thoughts, as she sits at her small table listening to the quiet, smooth voice of Chet Faker coming from her iTunes. Her two budgies bounce around her, curious to what she is thinking – curious to what she is about to create this time.

Gently she cleans her paintbrush in the colourful jar of water, taps it out to dry, then dips it slightly into a warm mauve paint.

Roberta pauses for a moment, ideas flooding her creative mind. The melodic, calming music fades into the background. The time ticking away on the clock disappears into silence. The calm breeze from her opened window gently blows her lose strands of hair across her face going unnoticed.

She puts brush to paper, letting her fiery passion take over and consume her – letting another beautiful creation for Perth awaken.

What most people don’t know about our city is the underground art movement – an art movement that is ever growing. According to local artists, an art movement that could have the potential to out-do Melbourne and Sydney. Perth is one of the most forgotten capital cities in the country – yes. Perth is one of the smaller capital cities in the country – yes. Perth is very underestimated – definitely, yes.

Roberta is one of the many young Perth artists adding to, and benefitting from, the city’s unprecedented growth in the art scene. Figures from the Creative Industries Statistical Analysis for Western Australia show cultural arts – such as visual, musical and performing arts – in WA employ a significantly larger amount of specialists, 31 percent, compared to the creative services sectors, 23 percent. Between the years 2006 and 2011, WA experienced the nation’s highest rate of growth in creative employment, 3.2 percent, making it equivalent to the State’s total workforce growth over that period.

Still new to Perth, is the RAW showcase, which uncovers underground artists and gives them the opportunity to flourish within the creative world. It functions in 60 cities across the world, making its first debut in Australia in 2012. It introduces the public to new, different, and independent artists of all artistic channels.

Roberta Louise Sheridan, 24, is a young upcoming artist with a strong passion for anything creative and unique and she is thrilled to be chosen to be part of this year’s RAW showcase.

Roberta believes that art is vital to society, and it’s what people need – whether they are aware of it or not. “You can just see so many different views and hopes and it’s all through pictures and images,” she says. “It’s a way of expression, which is what human beings need. It brings joy and it’s like a form of meditation for a lot of people.”

Roberta goes by the name of Bertie Louise in the world of colour and creation. Her designs are beautiful, intricate crowd pleasers that mix vintage looks with modern geometrics. Her glowing, energetic personality flows through her paint as she creates light-hearted portraits of beautiful women and animals, while incorporating linear and symmetrical patterns around it.

Her passion for art is vibrant and surrounds her like an aura as she describes what it’s like to get lost in the world of art.

“I just go into my own little world and don’t have to think about things,” She vivaciously describes, as her two budgies hop over shoulders and onto the sofa. “Time would pass and I wouldn’t even feel it… I would start something and eight hours later it would feel like an hour. I just genuinely love it and I love also seeing how other people react to it and the joy that it brings them.”

Colourful artworks, all in different stages of being finished, line her apartment walls and fill her table tops. Paints and sketches fill up her coffee table, with a small, scribbled sketch being brushed to the floor by one of her excited budgies.

Recalling her trip to Melbourne last year, she notices how our city’s art movement is on the rise, “Going to Melbourne last October, I was surprised how little art was there, I feel like they covered some of them and gotten rid of them. But Perth is the opposite, it’s like it’s becoming the new Melbourne.”

The small scale of Perth and it’s young vibrant culture compared to other Australian cities is enchanting to the artists out there as they have the unrestricted ability to explore and expand. Also, being a growing art culture, Perth is noticeably more open to different artistic expressions and interpretations of what is art, according the successful interstate artist, Gillie Schattner.

“We find Perth extremely open minded,” describes Gillie Schattner, 49, as she gets lost in thought.

Gillie and Marc are a husband and wife artistic power duo. They are highly recognised Australian contemporary artists, based in Sydney, that create the recognisable works of morphed sculptures of rabbit and dog heads on the naked human body. After having experience art in multiple states across Australia, they have noted that people in Perth accept their artistic expression more than other cities across the country, proving the diversity of our growing artistic culture.

Their unique creations are on display across the country, with their collection growing everyday. They have works on display here in Perth, in the Linton and Kay Contemporary exhibition centre, and also have one public sculpture called the Tandem Riders that are at home on Beaufort Street.

“Our characters are completely naked, and they have been embraced and accepted and truly loved in Perth. There has been no criticism at all in Perth about the fact that they are naked, people just embrace them,” says Gillie.

“I think because of that, it has made us feel very positive about the attitude of everyone in Perth,” she says happily.

With this and many other comparisons from their time in Perth, Gillie says that her and her husband have only got positive experiences when it comes to their designs in our city compared to others.

In Sydney, Gillie and Marc have struggled through lots of criticism from the public, as they are disgusted and offended by how they express their work through naked bodies.

“We put our first large sculpture, ‘Good Boy,’ which is a 3 metre high nude dog-man with a very large penis, outside the gallery in Paddington… everyone criticised,” Gillie releases an exasperated sigh.

“There were some people walking their children to school and going to work and they said it was disgusting and they made a complaint and contacted the media,”

“And another time we did two dogs making love and again there was a lot of criticism about that one as well. And in one office environment, they threw a blanket over it because they didn’t want anyone to see it,” she says.

Shaking her head affectionately as the birds hop around the room, Roberta places the sketch tenderly back on the table. She excitedly pulls out her laptop as she remembers what she was about to tell me – grinning from ear to ear.

The purpose of the elaborate showcase known as RAW is to provide these talented individuals and groups with the tools, exposure and resources they require to inspire, promote, and encourage their beautiful artistic minds.

“There’s about 600 people going, but they are all the right sort of people,” she explains enthusiastically while eagerly showing me her designs on her laptop that she soon hopes to show in RAW.

Roberta, lucky enough to be asked to participate in this opportunity, gushes over the exposure it can bring her. “The markets are great and I really enjoy them, but this one is sort of like higher and I feel like I would do a little better there. So that’s the main thing I’m working on… I need to sell about 20 tickets to be involved and get promotional opportunities though,” she says.

With trendy showcases like RAW and the positive attitudes from the Perth people, it extends the endless possibilities of our creative culture and inspires local artists like Roberta to keep striving for their passion.

“It’s great how small Perth is actually, I’m really passionate about Perth, and I don’t want to live anywhere else. And there’s such a big art movement, and you will see it,” expresses Roberta, as she looks lovingly at her designs.

Roberta sits up at night unable to let sleep take her. She lays on her bed while her partner quietly snores completely unaware of the thoughts and ideas playing through her mind. The gentle warm breeze rustles the curtains as she stares unseeingly at the details of the roof above her. Pastel colours trickle through her thoughts so vividly she thinks she can smell the paint.

New ideas. New potential. New creations, she can’t wait to bring to life and show off in our cities markets. She closes her eyes, as if thinking of art as a lullaby, and sleeps soundlessly, ready to make her artistic mark on our artistic city. She is the big fish in our small pond.


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