Exploring identity

DREAMS OF COUNTRY is the latest exhibition by artists and cousins Daisy and Hannah Courtauld showing at the YMCA HQ Gallery in Leederville until July 11.

Deriving its name from indigenous Australian concepts of Dreaming and “going country” the showcase is based upon themes of identity and place.

Entry is free to view the 16 pieces on display, two of them a collaboration of the artists.

UK-originated Daisy Courtauld and Fremantle-based Hannah Courtauld differ in artistic style but have the same underlying philosophy.

“It’s all about how people identify themselves with place,” Daisy says.

After studying at the Colchester School of Art and Design in Essex, Daisy developed a distinctive style called “date-stamp portraiture” manipulating inked numbers to construct faces and expressions.

Strongly influenced by history, she attempts to reconcile people with their heritage.

“Tutors always encouraged us to be concept-driven and I wanted to move towards things that really mattered,” she says.

“I did a project on the victims of Cambodia’s genocide during university which really moved me. The faces I recreated were inspired by mug shots taken of men, women and children.”

• Cousins and artistic collaborators Daisy and Hannah Courtauld. Photo by Matthew Dwyer

• Cousins and artistic collaborators Daisy and Hannah Courtauld. Photo by Matthew Dwyer

Moving to Australia in 2012, Daisy became determined to represent the experiences of Australia’s first people.

Dreams of Country is inspired by the indigenous people, their history, issues and how current they still are,” she says.

“I’m concerned with need for more awareness of such things.”

Hannah studied at the Central Institute of Technology and after graduating in 2007 pursued a dual career in art and psychology.

Her canvas paintings deal with feelings generated by a person’s connection to place and colour.

“By studying psychology I’m able to mix in a little bit of what’s going on in the head in with my paintings,” she says. “My work’s quite abstract so obviously it’s depictions of a place influenced by memories, dreams or thoughts, often quite fleeting.”

Both artists appreciate the effectiveness of art as a social tool and want to encourage the growth of artists, especially in highly concentrated youth areas like Leederville.

“I love that the YMCA has such a young audience,” says Hannah. “Sometimes young people think you need to be naturally gifted or have gone to really good schools but it’s not true.

“Just having motivation, perseverance and passion is all you need to get your work out there,” says Daisy.

by ASHLEIGH SCAIFE

 

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