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Artist in Residence: Paige Northwood

Artist in Residence: Paige Northwood
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Paige Northwood is a visual artist whose ceramic and painting practice has taken her from the NSW coast to the central Australian desert. Where creativity calls, her practice follows — it’s not unusual to find Paige painting en plein air, and she often works with found materials such as local clay and earth pigments, binding her art to the land from which it came. The natural pigments used in her work are redolent of our new seasonal shade, Sumac, and to mark its launch Paige joins our Artist in Residence series. Her work (com)passion II, 2022 will be on display in Assembly Label Paddington this July.

 

The more we look outward at the world around us, the more we find within us. This has been a guiding tenet of Paige Northwood’s art-making: where once she was exploring physical realms, more recently her art has connected with her inner world. “The changes I am noticing centre around becoming more mindful and intentional,” Paige says of her practice. “Learning to listen to our bodies is imperative and my art practice allows me this opportunity.”

 

Photography Kasia Werstak
Photography Kasia Werstak

 

Paige grew up in Stanwell Park on Sydney’s south coast, a place she calls her sanctuary, one she can “always return to”. It’s where she’s based for the moment, dividing her time between the bush and her studio, but after spending three years living and working in the Australian outback her return to this studio — a concrete box as she calls it — has taken some adjusting. “I often feel stifled and stuck in my thoughts and I’m getting used to working in different ways now,” Paige admits. There is magic happening, she adds. “I’m falling in love with the process, the act of creating, and having no idea what will happen.” Some of that ‘magic’ involves using locally dug clay. It’s arduous and labour-intensive, but Paige says it feels good to connect to the earth and her home directly through her work, and she feels more attuned to nature’s cycles.

“Living remotely, I was sourcing materials from directly under my feet or where I had set up camp. I couldn’t just head to the art store. There was charcoal after a fire and beautiful coloured earth pigments.”

Those years spent in central Australia changed the way Paige thought about painting and transformed her relationship with her country. “I was fascinated by Indigenous art and culture and wanted to learn more. I could sense there was so much more depth in a painting than the two dimensional medium would suggest, so I set out to learn about how we can have a full body experience through standing in front of a seemingly flat artwork.” What followed was a recalibration of her world view and a rebuilding of her sense of purpose. “I was able to connect with the living land and spirit realm in the desert through the welcoming and generous nature of the Indigenous artists I was working with, as well as other beautiful Northern Territory locals,” Paige reflects. The community I was in had a reciprocal relationship to country, their ancestors were present, it was a very multi-dimensional reality that was very expansive. I am beyond grateful for my time in the heart of the country and we are so lucky to have artists creating such deep and powerful art.”

 

Photography Kasia Werstak
Photography Kasia Werstak

 

Working amid the vastness of central Australia created freedom in her creative practice, and it was inevitable that the colours of central Australia would find their way onto Paige’s canvases. “Living remotely, I was sourcing materials from directly under my feet or where I had set up camp. I couldn’t just head to the art store. There was charcoal after a fire and beautiful coloured earth pigments,” Paige says. It’s the same earth tone palette used by artists from the Western Desert art movement, who work with the colours of their country. Those vibrant desert tones now remind Paige of her experiences “out bush”, where, she says, your cells come alive with the memory of all existence.

“The natural world is forever my muse.”

Paige’s exposure to the land, away from impulsive conveniences and distractions like the internet, reconfirmed her belief that art plays an essential role in our lives, and it strengthened her resolve to contribute in positive ways. “I have a deep sense of purpose as a caretaker of nature and my work has always reflected that, but I feel more than ever this is my personal line of enquiry and a driving force,” she explains. “It is a beautiful experience, completely immersing yourself in a landscape, and absorbing your environment with all your senses. The natural world is forever my muse.”

Further Reading

Artist in Residence: Justin Maurice Scivetti

Artist in Residence: Justin Maurice Scivetti

Justin reflects on his practice, his passion for gardening, and why he’s inspired by Paddington.

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At Home with Artist Caroline Walls

At Home with Artist Caroline Walls

We chat with Caroline about her creative practice and how she styles art in her home.

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