Today we introduce the first of our new Feature Artist series. Every month or so we will bring together a series of artwork focusing on some of our fave local artists and designers.

We debut the series with Madeleine Cruise, a name that has been circulating around Modern Times for a few months now!

Since completing her Masters in Painting at The National Art School in Sydney, Madeleine has since been practicing from her studio in Newcastle. She is also the founder of an artist run initiative ‘NANA’, a not for profit gallery, shop and performance space located in the CBD of Newcastle.

Best known for her energising palettes and lively compositions her paintings are filled with personality. Working with acrylic paint, Madeleine paints effortlessly with bold brush strokes, layering her canvases with plentiful colour and detail.

In this series of paintings for Modern Times, Madeleine is richly influenced by emotional experiences in contemporary life, whilst maintaining a playful and engaging aesthetic.

Madeleine’s work combines abstract shapes with those borrowed from nature so that the eye can journey through the work and piece together its own unique interpretation.

Playful yet considered they have that simple balance. Using mixed mediums she layers and reworks the surface until the warmth and textural qualities are harmonious.

Madeleine’s works are truly amazing up-close. The scale of the artwork is generous, and you can easily imagine how her palette of bright colours, alongside bold dark and neutral pastels could lift any contemporary space.

Madeleine took the time to have a chat with us about her process, inspiration and gave us a few insights of her day-to-day life. Truly a rising star!

1, M-Cruise-Profile

Tell us a bit about your background. Ie where did you grow up, what did you originally study?

I grew up in the country towns Camden and Bowral in New South Wales. I left home when I was 18 to study at The National Art School in Sydney, for a small town girl the city lights blew my mind and it was an important time of self-discovery. After majoring in Painting I won a Scholarship to complete Honours and graduated in 2010.

Can you give us a little insight about the body of works in this series? This series is the result of a significant period of creative development and comes as the answer to the question I asked myself: What can paint do?

A couple of years ago I decided to work with less intention, in a more playful and experimental way, in the hope of locating my own language and a greater understanding of what I wanted to paint. Working without pre conceived ideas or the pressure to complete, I was able to work ‘with’ the medium and discovered some wonderful techniques. Most significantly though, the process revealed pathways to my subconscious and with it, a world that I am compelled to paint. These discoveries have informed my current mode of practice and can been seen in this series.

I like to think of these works as psychological landscapes, in the sense that they represent internal experiences and give form to sensation and emotions. They are deliberately ambiguous so as to operate as spaces for contemplation. I have combined abstract shapes with those borrowed from nature so that the eye can journey through the work and piece together its own unique interpretation.


Where abouts are you based? And, how does your creative process usually unfold?

I am based in Newcastle NSW. My creative practice is most often based around a series that I will work on for a number of weeks or months. However I have noticed that there is a limit to which I can focus on one idea or way of working, so I will often develop another very different series alongside it. Sometimes it feels like I have split painting personality but I think that perhaps it is a way of extending ideas and reduces the possibility of overworking individual paintings or becoming bored with them – which never leads to a good end result!

What does a typical day in the life of Madeleine Cruise involve?

I work from home where I have a studio out the back of my share house. I will most often sleep in and wait for my housemates to go to work before I get up so that I can have the house to myself. I then drink coffee, do some internet research, check emails and work on any art applications that I might have underway. When I get to the studio I will select some music and then lead a fairly regimented day – stopping for lunch but working through till late afternoon. My Australian Terrier Louis and I will then walk to the dog park where I’ll buy a takeaway from the conveniently located bottle shop next door and we’ll both catch up with our ‘friends’ and unwind till sunset.

Which other creatives are you inspired by / loving at the moment?

I am really inspired by fashion at the moment and have come to appreciate the amazing historic lineage of fashion houses and their reflection of contemporary culture. I love the continuous re invention of tradition, the wear ability of such amazing creations and the spectacle of the catwalk and promotional campaigns. The whole oeuvre of a season collection, in clothing, make up, set and sound is so immersive and powerful. Some of my favourite designers at the moment are Gucci and Dolce and Gabbana.

What would be your dream creative project?

I would love to collaborate with a Synth Pop musician someone like Grimes or Tame Impala, so as to create the backdrops to their live performances. I imagine making giant animated paintings that change colour and formation with the music. I could imagine that this type of collaboration would really satisfy my pursuit of creating immersive spaces as well as my alter ego of being a pop star.

What is your proudest career achievement to date?

It would probably be founding and directing the artist run initiative NANA contemporary art space. NANA was a not for profit gallery, shop and performance space located in the CBD of Newcastle, which operated from 2013 for two and a half years. As an emerging artist new to the city NANA was a project designed to facilitate community and exposure for like-minded contemporary artists in Newcastle. My role as director encompassed many unexpected responsibilities and I found myself juggling the role of curator, photographer, caterer, install team, secretary, graphic designer, mediator and cleaner at any one time – whilst trying to maintain a personal art practice and hold down a paid job! It was a big project and I am proud of all that NANA achieved.

Is there any new inspirations / new art pieces on the horizon?

I am working on a new series of paintings that work closely with music and are an extension of my current collection at Modern Times.




View Madeleine’s work via the Modern Times website.

Have you heard of Art Money?

Interest free loans are available for artworks priced from $750 to $20,000. After paying a 10% deposit, you can take your artwork home and pay the remaining balance over 9 months, interest free! Apply online for instant approval, take your art home and pay for it later. It’s super easy and simple to apply.

Related content