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  • Writer's pictureCity of Albany

Meet the Maker Monday | Abigail Parker

Check out Abigail's work on her website

What is it that you do artistically?

I promote conservation and regeneration of our ecological resources.

I've experimented with a lot of art-stuff over the years - easy, put-down-able crafts when I was juggling full-time work and a family - then a bit of sculpture - wood-working - drawing, of course - and I do love pottery... ! But I've always been drawn to painting, so I decided I needed to focus, and specialise - and now I'm basically a painter in watercolours and oils. My passion has always been the natural world, so now I combine my two loves - Nature and painting - in my art.

Alongside my original paintings, I also produce photographic prints and cards, pendants, and other small inexpensive items featuring my artwork, in order to spread the conservation message as widely as I possibly can.

Why do you do what you do?

Because it's absolutely vital that we start looking after our world. I want to show as many people as I can reach just what incredible, irreplaceable things we are on the verge of losing in our immediate future. If people can see this, then maybe they will mobilise against Climate Change, de-forestation, and all the other environmental vandalism currently flying quietly under the radar, like they have against COVID-19. And that is how my work can have real value.

We need People Power on this one. Leaving it to the politicians and Big Business frankly isn't working!

When did you start in your industry?

Industry? not sure that's appropriate for me. I work for myself, largely by myself. I suppose I started seriously into Art about 10 years ago now, with a TAFE Cert.4 in Visual Arts. I spent a few years learning technique and best practice, and settled on this Conservation path about 5/6 years ago, after coming down to Albany. And, yes - not a coincidence! - there's so much inspirational beauty all around here!

How would you describe your style?

Basically figurative - realistic and very detailed wildlife and botanic art.

I also like to use my art to tell a story. That can be purely descriptive - as in my native orchids, which are so tiny and scarce that most people would never get to see and appreciate them otherwise. Or it can be a more narrative piece - like my recent "Apocalypse... Now!", which told the sad plight of the Black Cockatoo on his downward spiral to join the extinct Archaeopteryx.

Has your style changed over time?

I dabbled in the surreal in my teens, and enjoyed the symbolism there. I also have paintings from that time in my current style - but that was the Sixties, when realism was definitely NOT a 'Thing'. But looking at the later, I would have to say, not really - though I hope I'm constantly refining and improving my technique! Happily, my style is increasingly appreciated today, as the 20th Century fades from view and realism and narrative artwork emerges from the shadows. So I'm now trying to make up for lost time!

What does inspiration mean to you and who inspires you?

Inspiration generally comes from random things seen and heard, which my brain puts into order on its own, then presents me with a complete picture at around 2a.m! I rarely have to do more than marginally fiddle with the composition from there. And in-depth research on the creatures etc involved, of course. But if I try to do a full work up before starting, I lose my way.

Who inspires me? Nature inspires me. There are lots of artists I truly admire, from the Old Masters through to Surrealism. But it's our natural world which inspires me.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

"Wow!! That's amazing!!" is always very nice!

What have you been working on recently?

My most recent was a large oil inspired by the summer fires in the Stirling Ranges, and the damage to the wildlife there. It featured a little Numbat family. Numbats have only recently been reintroduced to the Stirlings National Park, and the devastating fires posed a significant threat to them, and to all the other rare and endangered flora and fauna living there. I've also recently completed a series of three oil paintings featuring the Western Rosella family who live in my garden. I'm currently working on my ongoing watercolour series of local orchids, alongside a large oil painting referencing drought. Next up will be a large oil referencing cats - both feral and domestic - their devastating effect on our native wildlife in both town and country, and our urgent need for effective laws to confine domestic cats and to eradicate ferals.

What is your dream project?

I would love to get into book illustration - either children’s books on the theme of conservation education / stories, or more scholarly works on the same theme.

How would you describe the Arts & Culture scene in Albany?

Fragmented, disjointed... There are SO many talented people here, covering an enormously wide spectrum of the Arts. Some of the work coming up on social media currently, such as in the "Great Southern Creatives Challenge" on Facebook, is amazing - but we are all seeing each others art for the first time. If we can manage to keep together as an integrated local artistic community after this, it would be a great take-away from COVID-19.

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