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In Conversation with Artist Indivi Sutton

In Conversation with Artist Indivi Sutton
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We recently invited young emerging artist, Indivi Sutton, to create some works for our storefronts as part of our Artist in Residence program.

Indivi has spent much of her life in New York, a city that greatly inspires her work, and now lives with her family in Sydney, where she is studying and working with contemporary abstract painter Antonia Mrljak. We spoke to the artist about her installation and learn how she draws on emotions and memories to create each of her soft, colour-infused works. 

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A.L. Have you always painted? When did you know you wanted to pursue your practice full-time?

I was born in New York, and my life there was a magical experience of the worlds of art, culture and nature. Museums were our playgrounds, and art supplies were always there to use when we felt the inspiration. I remember painting my bedroom with a watercolour rainbow reaching from one wall to the next and drawing stories from fairy tales or dreams. I attended a Rudolf Steiner School from kindergarten; the ethos of a Steiner education is to connect with nature and all her expressions, encouraging people to live fully immersed in childhood for as long as possible. We were given one colour at a time, first in watercolour paint and then crayon and used this to write and illustrate one book for all our lessons. I believe this deliberate engagement with each form is why I have an intrinsic relationship with colour and deeply feel each one.

There wasn’t ever a particular moment when I knew I wanted to be a full-time artist.

The journey has been lifelong; creative expression is part of who I am and what I do. I feel very privileged that Kitty Clark from Saint Cloche saw me as a young emerging artist and has been so supportive.

A.L. How did you arrive at or build your particular artistic style?

As a child, I loved to use materials with which I could lose myself and lose any predictability of the outcome, like staining a piece of paper with watercolours or using pencil or crayon shavings to rub and blur. There is something about the softness and stillness that resonates with me. Using a delicate medium palette of pigment powder and raw linen, I create layers, building depth akin to the imprint of nature, where density manifests in the stillness. Then it becomes a meditation on a particular sensory experience.

I feel my practice now is a refined reflection of how I have always created things in my life.

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A.L. Can you tell us about the artworks that you exhibited in our storefront? Are you able to share with us any particular memories or emotions that went into creating these works?

In Paddington, there were two paintings, ‘Blossom’ and ‘One’.

‘One’ celebrates the illustrious spirit of New York. My connection to this city is deep, and the painting conjures illumination through golden light that becomes the universal language of absence and presence, remembrance, hope and healing. ‘Blossom’ is a recurring dream. The pink is a bridge of sympathetic expansiveness linking the self to others. Each blossom flower is unique.

In Mosman, ‘Botanical’ expresses tenderness and affection in moments where we experience the promise of new beginnings. The memory explores the wild blooming of spirit in the almost-secret Conservatory Garden on Fifth Avenue.

A.L. Are you feeling drawn to specific colours or forms at the moment?

With the recent change in season and the vibrancy of Spring, the interplay of light is capturing my attention and influencing my mood. With a new body of works currently in progress, I am meditating on the luminous language of painting and the journey of memories that began the “At This Moment” series. The pause that we have experienced has taken me to a place where I am connecting with the purity of colours in nature: the wisteria blooming, the lilac that whispers like the dusk to calm us or the delicate layers of pink on a blossom tree losing its petals. My form takes shape within the nature of the memory I want to communicate. The form, for me, is a way to enhance the experience of the work. 

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A.L. Do you always look within yourself for inspiration, or does it sometimes come from the external, experiences, environments etc.?

My emotions and memories are the languages of my paintings. I am naturally curious, and I keep that as inspiration to be free and conjure the idea of something wherever it may lead. Nature is the primary focus of my works, connected to memories and the sensory experiences of place and emotion. My connection to and love for New York, where I lived until recently, is a continual presence in my work; her energy is a part of my soul. New York has driven my love of fashion, art and culture.

Nan Kempner, an American fashion icon, was a family friend. She was a woman who defined chic and spending time with Nan when I was little inspired me. I was fascinated by her collection of clothes and accessories, all colour-coordinated in her elaborate, Chinoiserie-papered dressing room. I would sit eating cookies on her dressing room floor as she would dress for dinner, and I would play dress-up. It sparked a love of clothes and beautiful fabrics for me. I have fond memories of the MET Costume Institute exhibits, storytelling expressed through high-end fashion, history, art and emotion. ‘China: Through the Looking Glass’ is one of my favourite exhibitions, I became lost in the combinations of lilac and soft titan green, vibrant reds, and the lush pinks referencing the blooming of peonies and peach blossoms. Then, there were the Bergdorf Goodman windows that revealed the magic of Christmas; the windows illuminated by the giant snowflake on 57th and Fifth Avenue live forever in my memory. 

Living in Sydney now, I have already had the most wonderful experiences here. I am currently being mentored by artist Antonia Mrljak, who has taught me how to let go and fly into my creative spirit. I treasure our relationship. I am deeply grateful to live here surrounded by the most astounding natural places and culture. I know that this energy will continue to impact my work as I create connections and continue my practice.

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