IF you hear Shakin’ Stevens or the Spice Girls blaring out a nearby house, it might just be artist Mandy White hard at work.
There’s a good chance she’ll also be surrounded by her small menagerie of pets – eight weiros, five budgies, two goldfish and a dog.
It’s this lively and slightly chaotic hub that inspires her colourful, playful art.
“My inspiration is my pets,” White says.
“I also gain inspiration from stories my mother told me about magical creatures and spirits.
“I have painted my animals in the exhibition and also animals in nature like crocodiles, possums and spiders. I have also depicted some characters from movies such as Mrs Doubtfire and Snow White.
“All the things I love in my life.”
People can’t get enough of White’s art – it has been acquired by the WA Art Gallery and City of Stirling, and she has won several awards including the major acquisitive prize in the Joondalup Invitation Art Prize.
She’s also been part of several group exhibitions like Sculpture by the Sea and Revealed 2020 at Fremantle Arts Centre.
But her art career nearly didn’t happen.
About a decade ago she was unhappy working in a workshop and left to find another job.
She began to drift through life, when she was given the opportunity to attend art classes at DADAA, an organisation that supports artists with physical and intellectual disabilities.
It proved to be a turning point in her life, and with the continued support of DADAA she has blossomed into a passionate and successful artist with her own studio.
“I started art classes in my 30s and found I had a gift for it,” White says.
“DADAA has been very important in developing my skills and giving me opportunities to expand my art practice in painting, drawing and sculpture and giving me opportunities to exhibit.”
Her love of animals and nature is evident in her latest exhibition Mandy’s World, where fairytales, pop culture and wildlife collide in a bright explosion of colour.
An ‘outsider artist’ with Yamatji and Australian/European heritage, White’s paintings and drawings are like traditional aboriginal art with a pinch of childlike innocence and naive wonder.
“I like all types of art but particularly art that gains inspiration from nature with lots of colour,” White says.
“I like to listen to music when I paint especially Spice Girls, Elvis and Shakin’ Stevens.
“I also think about my animals. I love to paint and draw – it makes me feel good.”
Mandy’s World is at the DADAA Gallery, 92 Adelaide Street in Fremantle, until July 16.
The gallery is open Tuesday-Friday 10am-4pm and Saturday 10am-2pm.
By STEPHEN POLLOCK