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Esther Stewart

Studio

Siân Darling

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Studio

It was a wet and cold day when we recently visited 2016 Sulman prizewinner Esther Stewart at her studio. With the fire blazing, she discussed her brightly geometric works, fondness for 70s and 80s DIY home manuals and the importance of a comfortable studio space.

Video production by Sian Darling.

Esther: It’s really important for me to be able to control what’s coming in – good light, temperature control – so that it’s warm or cold and you’re comfortable. Silence is really important for me. It’s quite interchangeable; studio is kind of life. Because our house is next door to the studio it means that you can come and go all day.

I think it’s nice to have things that you’ve seen but then bubble away in your mind so you have to use your memory rather than having it there in front of you.

I get most of my visual influences from books so I have a lot of them, but I like to have them away and then pull them out when I’m ready to look again. I think it’s nice to have things that you’ve seen but then bubble away in your mind so you have to use your memory rather than having it there in front of you.

I’m really interested in DIY 70s and 80s magazines. It’s not difficult to look through them and think about the optimism and the ambition of those sorts of projects and think about what it is I’m trying to address in my work. I’ve always been interested in miniatures. I was making miniature things before I was making art as an art practice.

Within the exhibition at Heide I’ve been exploring ideas around dolls houses and paper folding models. I’m interested in the way that it can change with scale. I wanted to convey an idea of how we live in spaces and how we’ve been told about spaces from a young age and what it means in the long run about how we engage with our own homes. I think that art has a place to be able to change what people think gender roles are – it can be subversive. It’s not about trying to make a dream home.

Esther Stewart: How to Decorate a Dump
Heide Museum of Modern Art
4 June – 11 September

Produced by Art Guide Australia in partnership with Heide Museum of Modern Art.

Siân Darling

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