In an art world where having a singular artistic refrain or preoccupation is an effective way to get noticed, Adelaide-based artist (and curator, writer) Brigid Noone exalts the merits of inhabiting multiple roles. “It’s apparent to me that contemporary artists, particularly women artists, have complex lives and practices, in spite of the pressure on them to pick one focus or brand themselves,” she says. “I’m trying to appreciate complexity, rather than seeing it as a weakness.”
Noone’s latest project, Authentic Determination, combines curatorial work, painting and a research residency at Perth’s singular Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art. During intensive archive sessions, Noone fossicked with “gloves on, in the basement, unwrapping, discovering and discussing.” Digging out the likes of Ann Newmarch and Pamela Harris, she was up close to works that marked out the women’s rights movement – works that balance painterly enterprise with expressions of lived history.
Noone’s recent oils will hang amidst a chorus of voices selected from the Collection, in retrospective solidarity.
Her work reiterates two sub-plots in the Collection: “colour and relationships. My paintings are about people, but also about loving paint.” Revelling in paint’s potential for comfort and intimacy, Noone’s work croons in lilting lines and soft colours that blush, rather than bluster, into moments of brightness.
To convene, interpret and honour her predecessors was “a challenge, requiring generosity and space without dictating how these works should be read,” says Noone. Established in 1974 by Lady Sheila Cruthers, the Collection’s contemporary projects build towards an ameliorated, knotty history of female Australian artists. “It’s quite radical,” says Noone, “to acknowledge that women artists lead complex lives.
I feel the impact of that liberation now. My work can be personal or political. It can be driven by love and vulnerability.”