“. . . every body of work (as a painter) feels
like a chapter of your life”
The colloquial becomes renewed in India Mark’s latest collection of works, due to be exhibited at Jan Murphy Gallery in Brisbane between June and July this year. The two-time Archibald Prize finalist and New South Wales-based artist finds points of interest and tension in the everyday, conducting complex composition and character studies, both on household items and the people around her.
Art Almanac caught up with Mark to explore the inspirations for her works and the nature of her studio practice.
What does a typical day in the studio look like for you?
It depends on where I’m up to in my painting process, mood, and headspace. I have been working a lot at the kitchen table inside, as opposed to the studio. The paintings with more intricate patterning, like the ones for the Jan Murphy show, are really time consuming, so I like to be comfortable when I’m doing those. Being in the kitchen, close to tea making facilities [she laughs], being warm, and things like that are important to me. I also don’t usually start painting until midday and work in two-to-three-hour bursts, so it’s not like a normal nine-to-five.
What is the relationship between object and composition in your still life pieces?
I think it is one of the most important parts of my painting process, as I choose objects with compositions in mind. Pretty much all the objects in my paintings are from the kitchen, objects that would have been discarded like jars and other odd bits and pieces. In choosing objects for my still life, I am definitely looking for a particular shape, texture, reflection. It sort of allows the objects to become themselves.
What is the difference for you in the approach between your still lifes and your portraits?
It’s pretty different, and it’s changing a lot. I do tend to paint more still lifes these days because I find it so much easier. Portraiture is very challenging; it does not come naturally to me, not in the way that still life does. Painting the portrait of someone you don’t know; you want it to do justice to that person, whereas you’re not going to offend anyone if your depiction isn’t one hundred percent accurate in a still life. I also really like working from life and spending a bit of time with my objects, whereas with portraits, I have not been able to work purely from life up until now. I’ve worked with both photographs and live sittings with portraits, but I would love to paint entirely from life, even if it means making some big changes to my painting practice.
What do you want your audience to understand most about your artworks and practice ahead of your upcoming exhibition with Jan Murphy Gallery?
I’m really happy for people to have their own ideas about what the art means to them, but also, with this particular show at Jan Murphy [Gallery], I made them in my hometown, and I want people to know that these paintings are from Wollongong. Also, in a way, these paintings are very site-specific in that every body of work (as a painter) feels like a chapter of your life.
Jan Murphy Gallery in Fortitude Valley, Queensland, will present Mark’s recent paintings from 21 June to 9 July 2022.
India Mark is represented by Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane and The Egg & Dart, New South Wales.
Jaimi Wright is a Perth-based arts writer who has also published with Seesaw Magazine, and an art historian with a passion for community engagement.