Five years ago, Melbourne-based artist Kerry Armstrong made the decision to change her life path, and she now creates artworks evocative of that path – past, present and future. Her abstract expressionist works are filled with energy, instinct and a dynamic sense of movement. They capture moments of emotion and honesty on Kerry’s way towards self-understanding and growth. We chat to Kerry about her move into the art world, her approach, choice of materials and what comes next.
Kerry worked in the corporate world until 2013 when a benign brain tumour became a catalyst for reconsidering her direction in life. “It gave me the push I needed to jump headlong into a full-time career in art. Being so altered by fear of the operation – and even more, fear of living a life without being honest enough to do what I’m here to do – motivated me to go professional,” Kerry explains.
Even as a child, art made a strong impression on Kerry, and today her paintings document and expand on her experiences, memories and thoughts. “It feels like I’m drawing the needle back and forth over my life with resolution and self-understanding. Some of the narratives are complex and the paintings are very personal,” she says. However, while many of her works have been retrospective, her latest series, “Paddocks for Ponies,” is a forward life plan. “I feel like I must be in a very good place in my life to be looking forward.”
The origins and meanings of Kerry’s paintings make them deeply poignant for the artist, as well as for collectors. They often praise those she feels are the most ‘awkward’ and ‘raw’ as being the best pieces. “I’ve learnt to stand still in my own truth regarding the narrative and take the risks necessary with regards to the work I exhibit,” Kerry says.
Kerry’s recent photography shoot featured the Ligne Roset Anda Armchair
Kerry works almost exclusively on Belgian linen. “The heavy texture, traditional aspect and tactile nature of the raw product marks the perfect starting point,” Kerry describes. Painting with acrylics and oils, she creates thick, dynamic brushstrokes with movement and energy. “Oils of late have been a strong, addictive draw. The pure pigments and history associated with oils I feel can bring more emotional weight to the work,” she says.
Starting a new work requires a high degree of spontaneity and Kerry keeps plenty of linen and paint at the ready. “In saying that, once started I usually have that beautiful familiar feeling that the piece has been painted well before I have hit the linen,” Kerry explains.
Kerry is currently preparing for a solo show at fortyfivedownstairs in Melbourne in April 2018, and a solo show in Sydney later next year. She is also a contributing Artist and Director of Studio Gallery Melbourne, an art practice that works with a wide range of artists to produce originals and museum-grade, archival-quality exclusive limited editions.
Credits for photographs:
Styling: Bek Sheppard
Photography: James Geer and Tania Savage