Artist Interview with Therese Flynn-Clarke
How will we continue to exist in our ever-changing environment? Over the last few months, this question keeps popping up in my mind. Which is why I found Therese’s latest body of work intriguing, even if it was conceived and put together before the most recent crisis.
So, I decided it was time to start a series of artist interviews (oh, how I loved them before): beginning with Therese. Read on to be inspired!
‘Patterns of My Days’ Online exhibition explores connection to place
Award-winning Logan artist, Therese Flynn-Clarke put her heart and soul into making these works that explore the idea of coexistence, only to have her exhibition cancelled. So, lucky for you, she’s created a vibrant gallery of images (some of which you’ll see here) and an online series of workshops to help people engage with her art and through it, our sense of place.
Bookmark it now >> Patterns of my days (I’ll wait here)
The series is a fascinating blend of mixed media landscapes and hand-stitched sculptural works. The aerial view of the layered landscapes convey how we have shaped the land, adding buildings and making way for agriculture.
It might challenge you to view the land differently, think about our environment differently. See it as more than just a resource. It might prompt you to think about the bigger picture, or like I did, feel an unexpected sense of nostalgia from the way the “maps” are stitched together like blankets.
And Therese’s smaller, sculptural pieces are constructed using a mix of organic and people-made matter, perhaps drawing a comparison with how humans interact and change the natural environments around them. What do you see?
Artist Interview: Behind the artist
Over the past few years, Therese was given the opportunity to travel to remote and regional communities across Australia to work with schools, the students, teachers and other artists. During these travels, she’s documented her observations, photographing the landscapes, buildings, the people and natural environments – getting inspired by the plant, and organic materials as well as the paper ephemera in different places.
This latest exhibition is an opportunity to visually and viscerally explore her connection to many places in remote and regional Queensland.
In fact, if you ask Therese, she’ll tell you that her art practice has been built on exploring these connections, and ideas of how we coexist with nature. As an artist (she studied visual art and got the piece of paper at the end to prove it), Therese’s style is tactile. She creates sculptural work using plant fibres and recycled materials, clay (and combining clay and fibre).
She also works in mixed media, using a variety of materials including paints, inks, markers as well as hand stitching and machine embroidery – literally drawing with the sewing machine.
“I love creating layers of meaning within my work and including found ephemera such as old rusty washers and bottle tops with my stitching. Or special seedpods or objects from a locality that become incorporated into a sculptural work and tell the story of a place,” Therese told me.
“I also love to include paper ephemera in my 2D work such as old maps, local newspapers, plane tickets and newsletters. A big part of the mediums of my art practice is not only gathering ideas but literally gathering things that can be included in my art.”
Approaching creativity with a child like view
Therese’s signature style goes hand in hand with her other profession: Primary Arts Specialist Teacher. She admits her ideas flow when she channels her inner child that notices things, draws what they see, picks them up and makes them into something, letting the ideas evolve until they become an artwork.
“To me, an artist is an observer of life, a thinker and has an innate creativity,” she said. “I know I can’t stop creating and making, it is a part of who I am.”
And she sees often see these same qualities in the children she teaches. She’s also a lover of learning and revels in doing new courses or workshops to develop her artistic skills.
“I‘ve travelled interstate to attend courses and have learnt a lot in community groups such as in Basketry, attending the National Basketry Gathering held every two years in a different state. In fact, I ended up coordinating the last one in Queensland three years ago. I love to teach workshops in the arts and share all I’ve learnt with others. I find this also inspires me as an artist. It’s a conversation between other creatives with a sharing of ideas, skills and possibilities. Always inspiring.”
How her landscapes influenced her work
Therese has lived in many places across NSW and Queensland, but she’s spent the last 24 years of her life in Logan on acreage.
From the small country town of Forbes in her youth, then Gymea Bay, and the Sutherland Shire, to her time as a teacher on Thursday Island and beginning her family in Cairns – each new place taught her something new about how she connects to the world.
“All these locations provide seeds of inspiration and ideas. Each place had a different ‘flavour’ teaching many life lessons, ideas and increasing my knowledge, observations and art experience.”
Therese is most inspired by what she observes and sees on a day to day basis and when she travels to a new place/location in Australia. Especially nature, its colours, shapes, lines and patterns. People’s stories, habits and personalities.
Having won first prize for the Caldera Award some years ago and exhibiting in the Tweed Regional gallery, the Belconnen Arts Centre in Canberra, and many local group exhibitions in Logan and surrounds. Therese is working towards having her work exhibited in a major state gallery.
In 2019, she held her first solo show at Logan Art Gallery (after years of participating in group shows) and this was a big achievement for her personally. And while she wants her work to be recognised by peers and art contemporaries, her philosophy is to keep trying, keep making and do so in a way that’s unique to you.
Soon, Therese will start a new project – an online tutorial where she’ll teach some practical skills linked to basketry and sculptural work to create small wearable art items, such as brooches, earrings and necklaces. And all thanks to the Regional Arts Services Network (RASN) as part of the Brisbane Multicultural Arts Centre (BEMAC) Creative Booster Pack funding.
If you’re a Logan or Ipswich-based artist and want to know more about this funding opp? Head to my Facebook page.
Or if you’d like to be featured in a future artist interview, just holler, and we can tee it up.
Therese Flynn-Clarke works using a number of mediums including basketry, sculptural fibre art, eco-dyeing and wearable art, ceramics and mixed media, which all reflect her deep connection to the natural world from where her inspiration is drawn. Therese’s connection to ‘place’ and the land provides a source of subject matter and materials for her artwork.
Therese has exhibited widely across Australia, won awards for her art, and has empowered many through her work as an arts educator and tutor, facilitating workshops at a tertiary level, in early childhood settings, for fellow teachers in arts education and practical skills, in galleries with links to specific exhibitions and at community events and festivals.
Therese is a prolific and committed artist involved in her own art practice and a respected member and participant of many community arts groups and events across a wide area.
Connect with Therese
Watch and learn more about #PatternsOfMyDays