Memory art

PETA MILLER’S love for Fremantle and the Kimberley forms an abstract double act in her new exhibition, Making Your Mark.

“I’m interested in the urban art of the area I live in, and I love the Kimberley,” she says from her Fibonacci studio on Blinco Street.

While Fremantle is instantly recognisable in some of the canvases lining the walls of her studio space, the largest canvas features a dingo, and a closer look reveals the distinctive shapes of the Bungle Bungle Range, in the Purnululu National Park near Kununurra.

• Peta Miller in her Blinco Street studio. Photo by Jenny D’Anger

Amazing colour

“We walked in there for three days…dingos were calling all night,” Miller says.

Her work is contemporary realism, and is often based on the memory of a place, resulting in a highly personalised and slightly abstract landscape.

“I am more often than not trying to catch the essence of something rather than the thing itself,” she says.

The amazing colour and patterning of rocks in the Kimberly are captured in another of Miller’s works: “A section of the rock is more interesting to me than the whole scene,” she says.

In her paintings boab trees sit alongside Fremantle roof tops; stylised yachts are framed by the Freo traffic bridge (presented in sharp blocks of colour) and at the port, giant cranes lopp across the urban landscape like prehistoric creatures.

Miller says her art has become more abstract in recent years, as she started to please herself and not get hung-up on what style is easier to sell.

“If you paint from your heart you will resonate,” she says.

Starting with an idea, Miller will go through a range of collected materials, including photographs and old magazines to get at the heart of the memory of a place.

“Then I just begin and let things unravel.”

Using a mix of acrylics, oils, pastels and charcoal she works on a tough surface in order to build up, and scratch back, to create layers.

“I think this layering reflects life, the build up of experiences, and growth that happens over the years, each layer drawing from, but partly obscuring, the previous one.”

Making Your Mark is at Moores Gallery, on Henry Street, Fremantle, from July 29 to August 13.

by JENNY D’ANGER

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