Face time

Diana Kelly and Tricia Stedman with one of their quirky creations.

EVER get the feeling someone’s staring at you?

You might if you take a stroll through Britannia Reserve in Leederville, where weird faces on tree trunks peer downwards.

But don’t worry, it’s just a quirky art installation by local artists Diana Kelly and Tricia Stedman.

Using pieces of bark, grass and natural materials, their plaster faces are so skilfully blended into the barks of trees they could be mistaken for carvings.

“The first mask or face that Di made had been partly inspired by the way people’s faces changed as covid protective masks changed appearances,” Stedman says.

“Our finished masks/ faces were also informed by our past art studies of theatrical and spiritual masks created over the centuries; from theatrical masks of Japan’s Noh theatres to the spiritual African masks of Mali and beyond.”

Stedman says the faces are based on the motley crew of characters who frequent the park.

“As we walked around the Britannia Reserve we were very inspired by the different personalities and textures of the trees as well as the vast array of different people who use the park – senior citizens from the nearby residences, families, sporty blonde types who run around the park with their figure hugging shorts and we even found the macho blokes in white, who relish playing a gentlemanly game of cricket during the summer months, to be a source of inspiration too.”

It took about eight weeks to make the masks, which were installed on 16 trees fringing the path at the reserve.

“The installation was a challenge as it was a very hot day,” Stedman says

“We started early in the morning and had to carry a heavy ladder right around the park so we could install the masks at a reasonable height to keep them out of temptation’s way.” 

The pair are both experienced artists: Kelly lives in Leederville and is well-known for her caricatures, sculptures and wearable art creations.

She also illustrates popular children’s books and was inspired at a young age by the works of Australian artist John Brack, the realist painter of modern urban life. Stedman created the umbrella painting project Arty Brellas, and over the years has been commissioned to do murals across WA, including those in Subiaco, Ravensthorpe and remote communities. She is also an art educator and opened the first private art school in WA.

Recently the pair have been collaborating on art projects including a painting for the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, and a mural project/community engagement in Subiaco called Children’s Wishes for the World and the Moodjah Tree.

But they are especially proud of their quirky faces in Britannia Reserve.

“We thought it would be great to create a number of landmarks or quirky conversation pieces that would add interest and stimulation to people’s daily walks,” Kelly says.

You can see Faces in Places until February 28.

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