Artist Colleen Southwell is inspired by her garden, the natural environment, everyday objects and a commitment to celebrating beauty in the little things.
She works from a tin cottage studio in her country garden, just a hop and skip from Orange in the cool, pictureseque Central Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia. She shares her home with her farmer husband and two gorgeous boys. Together they keep stud flocks of heritage Southdown and English Leicester sheep and a bundle of other four legged and feathered companions.
Drawing on her background in horticulture, Colleen’s unique art practice is a celebration of nature, both wild and cultivated. Delicate, ethereal and finely detailed, her works encourage the onlooker to pause, study, engage the imagination and connect with the cycle of life around us. Her meticulous art making process requires her to do the same. By its pure nature, her work cannot be rushed.
Colleen’s three-dimensional botanical and entomological works celebrate the life around her, in a delicate combination of detailed drawing in pigment, watercolour, fine gauge wire, andoccasional found materials.
Each piece comprises often hundreds of individual parts, finely drawn and painted, cut, embossed, shaped and assembled. These fragile works are mounted using entomology pins, giving the appearance of floating and employing shadow as a transient feature of the piece.
“The finished works allude to scientific herbarium and entomology specimens, often a combination of both, and are intended to be observed closely. Each element is largely imaginary, a compilation of observed patterns and forms that can be discovered when we take the time to pause, look and really see.”
Colleen's inaugural exhibition Unfurl, a duo with fellow artist Peter Worsley in 2018, was a sell-out and the seed of her growing art practice. She has since held her first solo exhibition, Into the Wilder. The show was also a sellout, the first for the well regarded Corner Store Gallery in NSW, Australia.
Colleens work has won the People’s Choice Award at the highly contested Little Things Art Prize at Saint Cloche Gallery in Sydney, selected as a finalist in the prestigious Pro Hart Outback Art Prize, and invited to exhibit at the esteemed Artisans in the Gardens exhibition at the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens. She has been featured by The Planthunter publication, and included on the list of the Beautiful Bizarre international contemporary art magazine's Top 100 Paper Artists. Her works are held in private collections in Australia and the USA.
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