“Most people absorb things either literally or visually,” Sydney artist Sylvia McEwan says. “I have always been a visual person.” However, while she was born in Melbourne, it wasn’t until she moved to Sydney in the 1980s that she began to explore some form of artistic expression. Initially it was through sculpture, focussing on the mediums of marble and limestone, as well as life drawing. After moving again - this time to Brisbane - Sylvia completed studies in visual arts, with a major in sculpture and became interested in painting. “My artistic development was fuelled by the love for the New York School of Abstract Expressionists, especially Willem De Kooning's strong figurative work,” she says. However, she has enjoyed working in various painting genres from abstract to still life and landscape to figurative. Since 1996 Sylvia has had 16 solo exhibitions in Australia and the UK, and was been a finalist in the Sulman Prize in 2003. More recently she is represented by Artduo and has her work on show at Koskela.
Which five words best describe you? Practical, energetic, cautious, quiet, persistent.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Stepping into my first art class, sculpture and life drawing in Sydney in the 80s, opened up a new and extraordinary world of art that took my breath away. Ever since then I have tried to understand and comprehend it.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Just wait to see how things unfold!
What’s your proudest career achievement? Selected finalist in the 2003 Sulman Art prize.
What’s been your best decision? Moving from sculpture to painting.
Who inspires you? My two daughters, who have incredibly successful creative careers while providing warm and loving homes to their beautiful children and partners
What are you passionate about? My family. My husband, my daughters, their partners and my grandchildren. Living each day as a precious gift.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My first sculpture and drawing course was taught by Rhonda Hartwig in Sydney in the 80s. I would like to thank her for having the belief in me and seeing the potential there.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Each time I finish a painting I am looking for the perfect painting. Of course, it is not that one. I start the next one in anticipation, perhaps the next one is it.
What are you reading? I am always keeping newspaper cuttings of books that have been recommended. I came across quite an old one, whilst cleaning up the studio. It was captioned Best book you have never read. I immediately downloaded it on Kindle. It was titled So long, I will see you tomorrow by William Maxwell. I haven't been able to put it down.
images courtesy of sylvia mcewan