Zoe Tweedale’s fascination with animals and fantastical beasts have preoccupied her for many years. The Australian artist, who is based in Newcastle, is a relative newcomer to the arts scene - having graduated (with Honours) from the National Art School in 2011. However, she is currently holding her second solo show at the Robin Gibson Gallery in Sydney. Zoe also won the Newcastle Emerging Artist Prize in 2009, among several other awards. The response to her graduate exhibition - both academically and commercially - provided her with the encouragement she needed to pursue art as a career. “It gave me the confidence to continue forward, and not to second-guess myself so much,” she says. Zoe's latest show The Birds runs until 19 August at Robin Gibson Gallery

Which five words best describe you? Shy, opinionated, hardworking, imaginative, thoughtful.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My career after finishing my degree started with having paintings in a group exhibition of recent graduates at Robin Gibson Gallery in Sydney. Since then, I have have had two solo exhibitions with them, and participated in many of their group shows.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? That deadlines catch up to you faster than you would think. I am still working on applying this lesson.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Getting a second solo exhibition at Robin Gibson gallery - it means that they liked my first one enough to trust me with another one!

What’s been your best decision? Professionally, studying honours at the National Art School in Sydney, as opposed to continuing my studies in Newcastle. It opened up opportunities and connections which would have been much harder to access if I had done my honours year in Newcastle.

Who inspires you? An artist whose work I have admired for several years is Michael Borremans, especially the way his work captures the ordinary in an unsettling way. For my most recent exhibition The Birds, there is obviously the influence of Sir Alfred Hitchcock's film of the same name, but I also found the work of several 19th century lithographers like John and Elizabeth Gould and Edward Lear to be very interesting. 

What are you passionate about? Besides making art, nature and the environment, in particular animals; cooking and food - although I unfortunately don't get to go to restaurants as often as I would like. Also, my family, and entertainment media of all kinds.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Sir David Attenborough, because his documentaries have been a source of my interest in the natural world ever since I was a child. 

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To travel overseas and see for myself artworks and places that I have only seen in photographs.

What are you reading? I listen to a lot of audiobooks while I am painting, and my current one is The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu. Recent listens while creating my current exhibition include Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susannah Clarke and Tigerman by Nick Harkaway. Sometimes you can see the influence of these books in my paintings, sometimes not.

images courtesy of zoe tweedale and robin gibson gallery

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