Chaos and The Psyche, our current exhibition until 25 July, pairs Liam Haley's vortex of vivid colour and fragmented forms with Joana Partyka's frills and pinched patterns of her bold, organic shapes.
Perhaps an unlikely coupling at first glance, the differing practices combine to bring forth a symbiotic relationship, one that explores the profound connection between one's self and the gnostic state of mind.
We shared a conversation with Haley and Partyka covering their planning methods and exploration of their inner psyche. Read it all below!
Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind your collection, and how it relates to the ‘psyche’?
Liam: The inspiration behind my collection stems from an inner dialogue, a never-ending poetic conversation with myself that I use to cultivate a visual language for art making. I have developed a fascination for human behaviour and the exploration of internal landscapes. The collection reflects an introspective journey, where I navigate both the internal and external realms, contemplating the protective nature of the exterior and its profound impact on the interior. By exploring personal and ritualistic themes, I create nurturing environments for self-expression, acknowledging its vital role in human development.
Joana: This body of work feels almost like a literal representation of the gnostic state. There’s a gulf of more than six months between the creation of the vessels and their ultimate completion - one that was occupied by a trance-like state wherein I was almost exclusively focused on my climate activism. I feel that these pieces - like all my work - is the inside of my mind on display to the outside world.
Liam, in this series you have used recycled wax awnings as the canvas for your paintings. Can you elaborate on the significance behind this choice of material?
The choice of the recycled waxed canvas began as just that, a way to reuse and recycle something that I found beautiful and interesting. Originally intended for window awnings and umbrellas, this resilient and adaptable material became the foundation for my creative exploration. It began to symbolise the concept behind my project, highlighting the protective nature of the exterior and its potential for transformation. This upcycled medium carries multiple layers of meaning—it represents a sanctuary, a protected space, and a playground for therapeutic self-expression.
Joana, your vessels have unique personalities and showcase a mastery of form and texture. Could you share with us a little more about the creative process behind these 3-dimensional details?
I use a coil-building method, which affords a great deal of flexibility, creativity and freedom. I make all my pieces intuitively; rarely do I have an idea or plan of what I’m going to make beforehand. My process is generally quite protracted because my kiln is huge and I need to make enough work to fill it up. It usually takes perhaps a few months from wet clay to finished piece, though this body of work has had the longest lag to date.The vessels themselves I made towards the end of 2022 - I had bisque-fired them but they remained naked and waiting for more than six months. I didn’t feel ready to reconnect with them - plus I became quite intensively swept up in the climate campaign I'm working on, Disrupt Burrup Hub, and simply didn’t have time (and still don’t!).
Liam, you speak about your paintings delving into the intricacies of the mind and emotions. How do you approach translating such intangible concepts into a visual form?
I believe in the notion that the intricacies of the mind and emotions, despite their intangible nature, possess a very tangible quality. While they cannot be physically grasped, they manifest themselves through the realm of physicality, as they can be manipulable, malleable, and profoundly felt in physicality. These ethereal aspects reveal themselves within the body, emerging through shifting moods and expressive gestures, ultimately becoming an extension of one's very being. It is within this realisation that I draw profound inspiration for my artistic practice—the transformative power of painting has the capacity to effect drastic shifts in my mental and emotional landscape. The act of painting becomes a conduit for change, an avenue through which my mind and emotions intertwine, evolve, and find catharsis.
As I create each artwork, there is a pivotal moment where the painting assumes a life of its own. The symbiotic relationship between my psyche, mark-making, and colour influences the unfolding layers, and the artwork manifests itself through my embodiment. Through these expressive elements, I strive to capture and convey the intricate nuances of the mind and emotions, translating them into a visual language that aims to resonate with viewers.
Joana, how would you say your political activism informs your work? Do you have any specific messages or narratives you intend to convey?
It’s important to me that my work invokes thought, arousal, reflection, interrogation, rage, discomfort. I try to transfer the energy I’m holding around the issues troubling me in that moment into the clay. That might be about the climate, it might be about Christian Porter’s transgressions, it might be about the swirling pit of emotions born of being a constant target of police.
So I like to think my pieces speak truth to power, or at least capture a moment in time. A curator once called my work a “warped calendar charting time by the scale and impact of the changes or events that were taking place”. I love that.
Come into the gallery to view Chaos and The Psyche, exhibiting until 25 July!