My Obsession with Fur

I have been trying to work out how to draw fur for the last 15 years. In 1997 I was in Europe and I made my first sketch of fur. I was looking at a painting by Carlo Dulci called The Adoration of the King in the National Gallery in London

Drawing in my Filofax done in 1997 at the National Gallery in London.

This drawing is still in the back of my diary as a little reminder of ideas that I want to work out in my drawings. It references the sleeve of the king in the foreground. I love when two dimensional artworks give you the sensation of ‘touch’ – that you know and understand what it would feel like to touch that surface and feel the sensation of the texture against your skin.

Carlo Dolci, The Adoration of the Kings, National Gallery London

About 5 years later I came close to representing something that resembled fur, but in a more graphic and abstracted way. This image is from an exhibition title Pulse in 1992. The entire exhibition can be viewed on this website as well as the following exhibition, The Dialogue of Difference which continued with a similar theme.

Pulsate III, Ink on paper, 80h x 80w cm, 2002

In 2010, I started working with plant forms again – this work was referencing a series of work that I made from 1994 – 1996 which included the exhibitions, In the Garden of Eve and Paradise Lost. In the earlier work I was utilizing William Morris backgrounds and Greco-Roman Columns in the foreground as symbols of the Australian/Italian cultural experience. In this new work I went back to the original influences of William Morris and juxtaposed this with images of the Australian Native Orchid. I was trying to place myself as Australian born in a new cultural dialogue.

Wallflower - When the rain falls, Pastel on paper, 80h x 70w cm 2010

During the process of drawing Wallflower – When the rain falls, there is a delicate line of fur-like texture that I wanted to draw into the work. I had no idea how this was going to work and by slowly thinking about the layers of colour and texture necessary to creat the feeling of fur I began to put pastel to paper. I remember being really excited at being able to represent something as delicate and tactile as fur. The next drawing seems quite a big leap, yet the markings on the petal were directly taken from the orchid and I remember looking at these tiger-like markings and wondering if I could draw it to look like tiger fur. This is the drawing that resulted and it came straight after Wallflower – When the rain falls.

Wallflower - Meow, Meow, Lick Me, pastel on paper, 80h x 80w cm, 2010

Wallflower – Meow, Meow, Lick Me started a whole new direction in my artwork. The texture of the fur and the tension between animal and plant form has been a dynamic and textural way to explore the feeling of being inbetween, of being both Italian and Australian, inside and outside, plant and amimal, masculine and feminine.

Studio shot of the Wallflower Series - in progress

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