Anna Carey, artist

Choose love over fear ...

The sun-dappled streets of the Gold Coast have been a muse to many an artist, author and musician. But it’s those gorgeous old buildings slumped on blocks of sunburnt grass, gazing wistfully at the sea that have been the inspiration for sculptural artist Anna Carey. Her whimsical photographic print series of small-scale architectural models invoke a sense of nostalgia in anyone who spent their childhood roving the suburbs. Raised on the Gold Coast, but now based in Melbourne, Anna recently returned to the Sunshine State for the opening of the celebrated David Malouf and friends exhibition at the Museum of Brisbane. Running until November 23, the free exhibition sees five contemporary artists paying tribute to the noted local author by creating artworks inspired by his written works. As Brisbane art lovers ran their eyes over Anna’s incredible creations this week, The Weekend Edition caught up with the artist to chat memories, wisdom and happiness.

What can you remember about your childhood growing up on the Gold Coast?
Apart from the type of architecture I recreate, I have a lot of memories of being outdoors. I grew up on Jefferson Lane in Palm Beach, which is the lane closest to the beach. I was either at the beach or in the lane trying to entertain the people passing by. The neighbours of the street and I would make lemonade to sell and create shows filled with dancing, cartwheels and magic. Then we’d go to the shop with the money we made and buy some lollies.

You’re now living in Melbourne – what do you miss most about your home city?
Living in the sun and swimming in the sea. I dream of it every day.

You make your models from memories and imagination; how do you think this contributes to their dreamy quality?
Creating work based on memory and imagination results in a space that’s hard to define. This invites viewers into an imaginative realm of wondering about the spaces and places, similar to a dream.

We’re huge fans of your work, what can you tell us about the early beginnings of your architectural model series?
Thank you. I created my first work, Nest, by combining model making and photography while I was studying at the Queensland College of Art. After Nest I created a body of work of exteriors, with line drawing over the top, which filled in missing structures. Before I started to work with the technique of model making and photography, I was creating architectural models for installations.

What was the thinking behind exhibiting the photographs of the models, rather than the models themselves?
The technique of photographing the models rather than exhibiting them expressed the ideas I explore better. The photographs of the models create an illusion of space, which is similar to the spatial experiences that I’m interested in, such as displacement, simulacra and deception.

You fossick for salvaged and new materials to make the buildings – what have been some of the most unique ingredients you’ve used?
I like the materials that border on ridiculous, such as toothpicks and matches. I also make my own wallpaper in PhotoShop, which is silly and fun.

What first attracted you to working on the David Malouf and friends exhibition?
I’d just finished reading the book 12 Edmondstone Street by David Malouf. The book was on my mind, so I was immediately attracted to the exhibition.

How has Malouf’s work influenced or shaped you, either as an artist or simply a reader? Is there one tome in particular that resonated with you?
12 Edmondstone Street takes you on a journey through the spaces and places Malouf has inhabited throughout the world, starting with his childhood home 12 Edmondstone Street. Malouf talks about the way childhood memories are never lost and always come back to haunt us. I was reading 12 Edmondstone Street while travelling through California. It was timely to read his journeys through different spaces while I was experiencing my own new journeys through architectural spaces. My memories of my childhood were reverberating into my new experiences, which helped form a new memory, just like Malouf describes when he writes that memories come back to haunt us. The models for the work in the David Malouf and friends exhibition are based on my mixed memories of various places from my hometown and beyond.

What’s your most beloved Gold Coast suburb, and why?
I’d probably have to say Burleigh because of the headland. It’s such a special place; it clears my mind and makes me feel uplifted every time I go.

What other Queensland artists should we be checking out?
I’m so lucky that I’ve been able to connect with most of my favourite Queensland artists, who I’ve been admiring since art school: Victoria Reichelt, Donna Marcus, Bruce Reynolds, Michael Cook, Martin Smith and Marian Drew.

What’s your idea of complete happiness?
A cup of tea somewhere outdoors with my love.

What’s the last thing that made you smile?
Reminiscing about my answer to the previous question.

What’s your favourite time of day?
The morning, I love getting up early and going outside. I love the fresh air and the fact that there aren’t that many people out – it feels like you have the whole world to yourself. I like to go for a walk and go to yoga, it sets me up for the day.

Favourite sounds?
Brightblack Morning Light, Yuck, Devendra Banhart, Girls, Peaking Lights.

What’s your personal definition of success?
Being happy at every stage of the journey.

What are your words of wisdom?
Choose love over fear.

Perk up …
Relax … drive out of town until I hit the vast open sky.
Dine … my kitchen.
Indulge … a hot cup of cacao and a good magazine.
Shop … a farmers market.
Catch-up … Monk Bodhi Dharma, Melbourne.
Be inspired … galleries, nature, food and home.


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