Stacey McCall on the domesticity of painting

Stacey McCall’s work celebrates the domestic. The Melbourne-based artist’s paintings depict everyday objects with a distinctly handmade touch; brush strokes are evident, as is a strong sense of home. “I’m very intent on making things by hand—I knit and I cook, so I think my painting comes from that place of domestic chores and life. There’s nothing particularly slick about it—it’s quite vernacular,” she says.

“One of my favorite painters, Ben Nicholson, described his work as being as important and ordinary as housework…That’s the narrative that I’m putting forward in my work.”

McCall’s latest exhibition, Breathwork, continues this theme. Its name comes from the meditative process of creation that has been a fixture of McCall’s career, from making bespoke jewellery to landscape and still life painting. “I love the idea that my work comes from a calm consciousness of breathing slowly,” she says. “I approach painting with a fairly gentle touch.”

Stacey McCall, Honey Pears, 2024, oil on board, 21 x 25 cm, framed.

The artist’s process begins with a sketch of the object under a light; she then paints from the sketch. What results is an impression of an impression—even more so as she moves into abstraction. “I bought Amber Creswell Bell’s book Australian Abstract, and I just loved it,” she says. “I’m moving more and more away from realism.”

Breathwork is the first show where this new technique is evident. It also includes objects that have not been depicted before, such as shells, but McCall’s affinity for earthy tones remains. “My palette has always been very muted and drawn from the Australian bush,” she says. “My objects are earthenware, pots, gum leaves, handmade ceramics, lemons…It’s more about the way they’re painted rather than the actual objects.”

Stacey McCall

Michael Reid Murrurundi
On now—30 June

This article was originally published in the May/June 2024 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Preview Words by Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen