“For me, art is a process of exploration - a way of seeing, thinking and problem-solving,” says Melbourne artist Hannah Fox. “My most recent paintings have been abstract which enables me to be fully immersed in the act of painting. This is incredibly freeing!” Hannah completed a Bachelor of Fine Art in Painting at Monash University and was an intern with Red Gate Gallery in Beijing, and worked at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane. Her first solo show was a sell-out, and she will exhibit at Collingwood Gallery in Melbourne from May 10 to 21. “Once I called myself an artist - whether I believed it or not! - I found opportunities started to come my way,” Hannah says. “I was open to it.” Hannah is the great grand niece of Australian Impressionist Emanuel Phillips Fox

Which five words best describe you? Introverted, extroverted - yes, both! - imaginative, organised, tall.

How did you get your career started and what path have you taken since? Sometimes the term “career” seems out of place. My art is just there, it always has been, I suppose. Creativity came naturally from an early age and I was encouraged by my family to pursue it which I am grateful for. I travelled after school and then completed a Fine Art degree at Monash University. I absolutely loved this course, it opened up my mind. At the same time, it made me utterly petrified. Graduating young, I didn’t feel confident I could take on the art world. I pursued further study in design, ran an events business and worked in graphic design. Not entirely satisfied, I also worked in galleries to try to connect back into the art scene. Eventually my path lead me back to painting. My hop scotch “career” has all been worth it. I am a better artist for it. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? This time next year you’ll wish you started today. So, start now!

What’s your proudest career achievement? My first solo show was a huge hurdle for me. Emotionally, physically - I was eight months pregnant - and career wise. I forced myself to be brave. It was a sell-out success and gave me the self-belief and courage to continue with my art practice. 

What’s been your best decision? To stop seeking some other creative corporate career in design that would have been great, but not really for me. The moment I pulled out my paints again was heaven.

Who inspires you? Many artists: Fred Williams, Yvonne Audette, Mark Rothko, Ben Quilty, Guy Maestri, Kate Tucker, to name but only a few. Musicians and people who speak many languages. I am inspired and jealous! Anyone who works from home whilst raising kids. It’s madness! Positive people. They are gold. 

What are you passionate about? Melbourne. I love everything this city offers — its cultural diversity, its architecture, the food on offer, coffee, sport, parks, gardens... the list goes on.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Definitely Emanuel Phillips Fox, my Great Grand Uncle. He was one of the most gifted colourists and figure painters among the Australian Impressionists. Sadly, he was perhaps not as recognised here as some of our other late 19th/early 20th century artists. Emanuel was too busy mixing it with the greats over in Paris. Oh, the stories he could tell. 

What dream do you still want to fulfil? My dream is to keep painting. I am lucky right now, so if I can keep it up and develop my art practice further I will be happy. I am keen to see where my art goes and what opportunities arise. I am open to change. I would love to try my hand at ceramics, sculpture, welding... Travel wise, my dream is to get to New York. 

What are you reading? A complete mixed bag. Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph. I have three boys under five and they are a mystery to my all-female upbringing. Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.

images courtesy of hannah fox