I keep thinking about a conversation I had with Patricia Casey recently. We were at a lunch at NG Art Gallery - where she is about to hold her latest exhibition - and she was telling me the story about how she became an artist. Patricia was married with young children and lived a "regular" life. But there was part of herself that she realised she had been suppressing - her artist side. And so when all her friends were settling down, Patricia turned her life around and enrolled in art college. It wasn't an easy transition but she said she felt an enormous weight lift when she followed the internal pull to create - as well as a sense of contentment.
Which five words best describe you? Eccentric, enthusiastic, empathetic, faithful & funny.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since? My first job was part-time at age 15 in Woolworths on the cigarette counter. I wore a uniform with a zipper up the front and cork platform shoes. Thursday nights, Saturday mornings and school holidays were spent at the cash register. Since then I've been a secretary, worked for a politician, as a recruiter and I've even done some factory work to make ends meet. Now my art practice and teaching occupies me full time.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Listen to my inner voice - it's usually right. Intuition is a powerful thing.
What’s your proudest career achievement? I'm proud of my life as an artist. The good times are matched with the leaner times, but it's an authentic life. I've won a few art prizes and been included in some prestigious exhibitions, but meeting people who understand my work and find it meaningful to them is one of the most rewarding aspects of my career.
What was the starting point for this exhibition? I read a lot of literary fiction and have just finished re-reading the works of Janet Frame. Her novels deal with remembering, forgetting, secret worlds and private spaces and I was inspired by these themes. The link between memory and imagination is also intriguing and I explored these ideas with this body of work.
What’s been your best decision? Apart from marrying my husband, my best decision has been to embrace my life as an artist. I went to art school as a mature age student of 35, with three small children, which was a huge undertaking in so many ways, but it has enriched my life.
Who inspires you? My husband - he is a genuinely good person. I admire my mother's strength.
What are you passionate about? Family, art, sleeping in, chocolate, reading, summer at the beach and my dog.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Siri Hustvedt and Paul Auster - New York's foremost literary couple.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I'd love to travel and to be able to take my time exploring.
What are you reading? On my bedside table I have Janet Frame's Scented Gardens for the Blind, Steig Larsson The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Siri Hustvedt The Shaking Woman (Or a History of My Nerves).
images courtesy of patricia casey and ng art gallery