ENROLLING in university was the impetus for Hamilton Hill artist Alia Leadabrand to get back to the easel after a 12-month hiatus.
“I’d hit a wall painting,” she tells the Herald.
[Uni] was a way of redefining myself as an artist.”
Years ago one of Perth’s premier galleries suggested an arts degree as a way of opening more doors, but Leadabrand baulked: “I thought it was wanky,” she remembers with a smile.
Art school had been confusing, but what she failed to grasp as an 18 year old, is making sense these days.
”It may feel silly the way we are encourage to describe things in different ways, but it’s a lightbulb moment, I get it now because I’ve been an artist for years.
“[The course] strengthens your imagination muscles,” she adds.
University pulled Leadabrand out of the doldrums and back to finishing a series of portraits for the exhibition Underwater Women at Creative Collective opposite Kings Square on Queens Street, Fremantle.
The ethereal, watery paintings of female friends are a celebration of WA’s coastal culture and a deep relationship with the ocean, she says.
Clothed in dresses that float and swirl in the water, it was more dancing than swimming as her models posed.
“It was a beautiful study, magical to see these woman move around tentatively.
“They really responded to the water. Some would dive and the dresses would become mermaid tails. Others would drift,” Leadabrand says.
Female models best captured the gentle undulating motion of the water, which became almost an embrace, Leadabrand says: “With men it’s a completely different dynamic”.
Underwater Women officially opens Saturday December 17, with the chance to grab a bite and a glass of vino at Gypsy Tapas next door.
And if you miss that there’s a closing party December 23, just in time for last minute Christmas presents, including well priced framed prints and greeting cards of Leadabrand’s underwater women.
by JENNY D’ANGER