Perth Artist Bec Juniper holds a humbling respect for the Australian rugged outback, the salt lakes, endless plains and red dirt roads, the open mining pits, the flat paddocks that disappear in the horizon. Whilst others see harshness and danger, Bec Juniper can feel a soft feminine quality in the fragile landscape.
There is a lot of softness there, perhaps a feminine magic. It is really quite beautiful and changeable.
Bec Juniper’s exploration of this softness is perhaps a reflection of her own journey, being able to tread lightly and give forth a soft approach whilst holding a strong purpose in life and family.
In this Q&A Bec talks about her life as an artist.
Enjoy getting to know bec juniper....
When did you first feel the desire to be artistic and realise you had talent?
Art has always been a ‘normal’ thing in my life. I didn’t dislike it or like it, rather I found it curious and it held my attention. My early years being surrounded by art and artists created a benchmark for me on how to consider art
Where did you learn your art?
My current art was learned through experimenting with materials but I formally studied at Perth Tech followed by Claremont School of Art followed by University of Hobart with some extras at Curtin University.
Of course I also learned a great deal from my Father and his peers, and just being around art in general.
What inspires you most?
Nature, mystery, experimenting and discovery.
What message are you sending to the viewer of your art?
I’m mimicking nature and expressing my connection to that. I see in it a living and ever-changing fragility, and I attempt to construct that essence; sense of place as distinct from other places, I hope that people can recognise the spirit of place in my paintings.
Describe your studio…
I call it the dungeon because it is under our house. It’s open on one side to the elements, so it can get a bit cold. It’s perfectly organised; actually it’s the most organised thing in my life, it holds everything I need. My tables and workbench are on castors – it’s all moveable and it gets shifted around a lot to cater for all the different jobs that need doing at different stages in the making of art. I love the functionality of it and the way that it continues on the same level to the courtyard and garden. I have chooks and dogs as residents too. The studio is a place where I feel the most at peace in the world, and experience the deepest of my imaginings. It really is a sacred and therapeutic space for me.
Describe your typical day of creating art…
Always starts with putting the music on followed by sweeping the floor whilst having a think. Depending on what I’m doing i.e beginning, middle or end of a show:
If I’m beginning, I’ll probably be stretching a couple of canvases and then treat myself to some very loose easy going painting.
If I’m in the middle I’ll be going through the motions of layering which is also very creative but has a mind to preserve things and destroy things.
If I’m toward finishing I’ll be thinking about how to resolve things and leaping into actions with serious commitment – meaning I do radical things at the end of my work! I feel this speaks of my subject well; life isn’t made in a straight line and one has to allow for the unknowns to occur.
However this kind of process is difficult, it takes guts and makes it hard for me as I may radically change a work in a matter of hours.
Because I work on a body of paintings this adds to the challenge, mostly I don’t even know how many paintings I am going to have and even what they will look like. This can be quite painful and draining for me once I am under the pressure of a deadline.
I mostly work everyday for an average of about 5 hours.
What mediums do you use and why?
I use water based materials fine pigmented inks and watercolours as well as ochres, oxides, grass tree resin, binders and paint additives, and very rarely acrylic paint.
I find it fascinating and inspiring to experiment with materials that are of the subject; directly from the earth, and mixing them with water is also directly from the subject, add that to working on the horizontal and one can get very naturalistic results.
What are you working on now?
I’m stretching a lot of large canvases; I have a couple of commissions resulting from my Sydney exhibition, and one for a hotel here.
I wish to take some time out for development, to realise some ideas that I haven’t had a chance to follow through with. I’m also planning to enter the major art prizes interstate so I’ll be working on large-scale works for 2018.
I’m actually a bit excited by the challenge, because it’s a new thing for me.
What are your recent career achievements you feel proud of?
I feel most proud of my last 3 exhibitions with JahRoc Linton and Kay and Wagner Contemporary.
Because my son had an accident in Berlin I had to stop work. When he and I returned, I got straight back to work to honour my commitment to my galleries. I had 3 solo exhibitions in 10 months. I made unique works for each show I really took it to the wire and I feel like they were all good shows. I don’t know how I did it but I did. I’m proud of that.
What do you love most about what you do?
I’m quite an art nerd, so I love the whole conversation. Obviously I love to paint and make things, that’s a given, but mostly I love the sense of exploration both in the physical and metaphysical worlds.
Where can you see yourself in 10 years time?
As a 19 year old, I chose to pursue visual arts over design and or other art forms, with the notion that, the older I get the more respect I get, and the better I get. Truth is I would have always ended up as a painter (as if I had any real control) but I did have that pragmatism in me, and it was a very logical decision.
So based on the logic of a 19 year old imagining her future, I guess in 10 years time, I’ll be 10 years older, better and wiser.