I came to live in Apollo Bay after a full and peripatetic life overseas with my family. In the intermittent years we had visited Apollo Bay regularly on home leave and fell in love with the place. I had visited beautiful places before, experienced wonderful locations overseas, but none brought the tall hills down through luscious valleys and green meadows to the waters edge in such a dramatic and pristine way. When the time came to choose a place to settle, I decided this was it.
The natural beauty provided by my new home has furnished me with many years of inspiration. My eyes have become so full that my canvases have become larger and dense with birds and flowers, richer than I could ever have imagined, and still the images come. There is nothing abstract or simple about nature. Simplicity is not my aim, nor is it my satisfaction.
I had been an abstract painter in the seventies but found I was drawn increasingly to a more communicative and representational style . Abstraction became too self indulgent and meaningless to me. Whom was I painting for? I did, however retain the love of accidental effects and where they might lead me, never abandoning the process completely.
The act of painting and the hours spent involved with the process has a meditative quality about it and with music pumping while I work, I can express my joy of life. The materials I use matter and I have learned that only the best quality canvas and paint are sufficient to my needs and for the effects I crave .
My method has evolved over the years. I start my paintings with loose splashes and gestures, oils thinly applied. I allow forms and figures to present themselves without prior planning or predictability and then spend many enjoyable hours shaping both the details and the whole. My images densely fill the canvas, my relation to nature being whimsical, with strange plant and animal forms emerging. Colour remains central to everything, melding with sensuous form.
The whole of art history has influenced me and therein lies the dilemma. How and what does a contemporary artist paint? Modernity has directed us to abstraction, but after abstraction, what? Anything goes. Everything is Art.
Do not misunderstand me, I love Pollock and Rothko but they ended up suicides. I love much of Picasso’s work but he did us no favour by stating his ultimate aim was to paint like a child, a goal shared by many contemporary artists. Few pull it off. “When I was a child I painted like a child and when I grew up……….
I return often to my collection of books on the old Masters because I loved their beautifully crafted details and rich oily surfaces. I lament that there are so few great women artist who have survived from that time and look forward to a time when women are valued along side of men. The fact that a three hundred year old painting by a Artemisia Gentileschi is valued at one quarter of a Caravaggio at a recent Christies auction speaks volumes.
In saying this, there are contemporary women I must acknowledge for having inspired me and there are so many more: Margaret Woodward, Paula Rego, Georgina Beier and Barbara Rae to name a few.
The great thing about painting is you don’t retire – a future with endless hours of creative expression in an environment of natural beauty makes me happy. We live in one of the most naturally beautiful places in the world. We must care for it and protect it. I am a great admirer of the folks working at the Conservation Ecology Centre- Cape Otway and I regularly donate paintings to help raise funds for them.
My paintings can be seen at Metropolis Gallery in Geelong or at my always open studio on the Great Ocean Road Marengo.
Sisca’s work will be available for purchase at the forthcoming Apollo Bay Art Show