Sometimes all it takes is a change of scene.
Artist Lily Mae Martin has been producing her best work since moving to Ballarat a year ago.
She’s currently exhibiting at three regional art galleries including a solo exhibition at Ararat and has been shortlisted for four major art prizes this year alone.
She credits her rising success to her Soldiers Hill studio and the advice of her Melbourne gallerist.
“I got a little bit stuck in 2014 (when) we had a death in the family,” Martin said.
“I spoke to my gallerist in Melbourne and we talked about my ways of exploring femaleness in drawing. He said it was quite unique and that I should be focused on that. I’ve been making work at a level I’ve never made them before and I’ve been entering them into prizes.
“We relocated to Ballarat and bought a house in Soldiers Hill. I’ve never had a studio like that before – it’s really amazing what a space can do.”
With a six-year-old child to care for, Martin said she schedule her prolific working hours around school and bedtime.
Her interest in the female form developed after her teen years working in portraiture, “as a way of trying to understand people”.
“I think faces were my first interest – faces are a bit safer to work with. It requires a bit of confidence to be in the same room as a naked person and get them to take their clothes off.”
However, having a child changed her perspective of the body and what it meant to be a woman.
“When I became a mother, I decided to really push exploring the female form in ways I’d never done before, I became a bit braver...and challenge what we assume is the norm,” she said.
“(I’m intrigued by) how much (the female body is) policed and how varying femaleness, the experience of being female, is but we only see a limited idea of femaleness. Being a woman myself and falling into conventional roles like being a wife and being a mother, none of it is what I expected.”
Martin’s solo exhibition Drawing, all the time is currently on at the Ararat Regional Art Gallery until October 30. Her work is also being exhibited at the Rick Amor Drawing Prize at the Art Gallery of Ballarat and the Paul Guest Prize at Bendigo Arts Gallery.
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