(art.inspiration) diana prichard

Diana Prichard (left) and Gail Affleck
There is almost nothing so pleasing as seeing good things happen to a beautiful person. That's what happened when I saw friend and colleague Diana Prichard on the opening night of her second joint exhibition at the Bondi Pavilion Gallery on Wednesday. (Gail Affleck is exhibiting alongside her.) While Diana works as a journalist she spends many spare hours creating gorgeous artworks that very much evoke the suburb where we both live - Bondi.

Which five words best describe you? Optimistic, happy, driven, determined, grateful.
What was your first job and what path have you taken since then? My first job was chambermaid in a London hotel between finishing high school in the UK (moved from Sydney to Surrey when aged 13) and starting an arts degree in Sydney six months later. But I dropped out of uni after a year, worked in a community radio station, travelled and returned to uni a couple of years later to study communications. I've worked as a print journalist ever since. But a couple of years ago I also started painting, after finding some dumped timber shelves, floorboards and pallets on our council verge. For some unknown reason I thought they would make great canvases. I love wood - its grain and texture - and I also loved that this found timber had a sense of mystery attached to it: what had it been used for, where had it been, and how did it end up in Bondi? I also love turning utilitarian objects into artworks, and particularly like pallets as a canvas. The spaces between the slats provide a lightness and airiness to the work, and also suggest something by their very absence. After I found the wood, I began to paint what I knew: my Bondi neighbourhood. Looking out my sunroom/studio window I am constantly inspired by the little portraits of everyday life: my sons and their friends juggling footballs and skateboarding; surfers, with boards under their arms, running down the road to the beach; willy wagtails hopping around the front garden; and bottlebrush and flannel flowers waving in the sea breeze.
What's your proudest achievement? Helping to grow two beautiful, energetic, sensitive, thoughtful and good-humoured sons.
What's been your best decision? Returning to Sydney in 1998 after living in the literal (and stunning) wilderness of Tasmania for nine years. Tassie is a sensational state, but I missed the frenetic, invigorating and inspirational energy of a busier place. I'm excited by the possibilities here.
What was the starting point for this exhibition? I painted so much timber, and ran out of space at home, so had my first exhibition at the Bondi Pavilion Gallery two years ago. I was really thrilled to find my work struck a chord with others, but I knew I had so much to learn, and my obsession to learn more was growing. I painted at every opportunity, learning about colour, form, composition, texture and perspective as I went; broadening my range of subjects; and developing my style. I was running out of space again, and held another exhibition at the pavilion gallery, which is on at the moment. I love painting, I think about it all the time, and if I don't paint for a few days, I get twitchy!
Who inspires you? My sons and their friends inspire me every day, whether they're surfing, skateboarding, juggling footballs in front of the garage, wrestling, teasing, or laughing. They embrace life with incredible energy, honesty, thoughtfulness, humour and sensitivity - these boys are simply glorious - and I'm hopeful for the future in their hands. And my darling husband, also a water man - a surfer and a skipper - always inspires me, as well as artists Rosalie Gascoigne, Euan Macleod and Picasso!
What are you passionate about? Leaving a healthy planet for our kids; looking after those less fortunate than ourselves; standing up for what we believe in; family, friends, painting, and chocolate! Chocolate and a glass or red wine a day are excellent for our spirits, and good for our hearts!
What's the best lesson you've learnt? To believe in yourself and to follow your dreams. To go for it! You'll never know unless you try. And if you fall down, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again... but never, ever give up. And to try and live generously and to curb jealousy - it ultimately only destroys yourself.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My great, great... (not sure how many greats) aunt Florence Rodway, who was a very talented portrait painter, but stopped painting the minute she married. I'd love to ask her why: did she really want to, or was it the social norm? If it was the first, I'd love to encourage her to buck the patriarchal system and follow her passion.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? To be good enough...
What are you reading? I haven't read a book for a few months, frantic with getting this exhibition together, but can't wait to start The Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood by Rachel Power, which is apparently about the conflict between being a mum and trying to create! A friend lent it to me (!). It sounds like a very, very appropriate read. I feel I've neglected my kids somewhat in my pursuit of painting (although my teenager said he likes being neglected!!!). I'll take the book down to the gallery next week, to read while I'm sitting behind the desk.

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