- Poet, Artist & Designer -
Welcome to an interview conducted with another multi-talented Aussie - BEE WILLIAMSON.
Welcome, Bee ...
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR ARTISTIC JOURNEY.
I woke up quite young to music being played around me – festivals and concerts in the late 70s in England. My Dad, Harry is a great musician and we were encircled in a life of exquisite works, like his Tarka symphony, that topped the UK Classical charts in ’88. My Mother danced in their interpretation of the Egyptian Book of the Dead at the Edinburgh Festival – I danced in the wings, committing to memory at 4 years the whole choreography. So began my artistic response to life.
Drunk at 14, I would dance out the demons and dance in the soul of artists like Stevie Wonder and Bob Marley. I was told I was “too tall to be a dancer”, but I did go on to dance at Deakin Uni, then did contact impro at VCA.
I found art in the minutiae of life – in daisy chains and sea shells. I found fine art properly in high school. A great teacher with a kind heart took me under her wing. I studied the book ‘Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain’ and literally learned from there. This meant I would basically just turn my drawings upside down to trick my mind and I use this very technique to this day!
Since 2003 I have been involved in 21 exhibitions around Melbourne. Mainly group comps. I did do a duo show with Kate LePlastrier at Synergy Gallery in Northcote. That was the highlight so far in exhibiting!
WERE YOU GOOD AT DRAWING AS A KID?
Old Woman (14 year old) drawing.
Looks like Mrs Doubtfire!
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING AN ARTIST?
Absolute freedom. I grew up in Melbourne, when we all moved from England in ’81.
I grew up going to poetry readings and met my best friend Kelly, in the café, The Jammin’, where socialists and anarchists met with poets and musicians. My stepmother, Gilli Smyth from Gong, influenced me with her dedication and perseverance with her commitment to performance poetry. Very often bored, swinging my feet under the chairs, wanting desperately to escape these readings. Something must of clicked, after going week after week, as my brother is a poet too. Freedom to think whatever I want, write what ever I want and read these pieces without fear of being locked up.
It’s not the same all over the world. We are very lucky.
No lecturer or boss is ever telling me what to paint, no authority admonishing me for my risqué love poetry.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING AN ARTIST?
I know it’s a cliché but the loneliness is the hardest thing about being an artist.
I write poetry and combine it with artworks and photography in books that I design.
This is fun, yes, but it requires self-discipline. I have to go to work in my studio when the pay is either totally absent or just a maybe. You go to work, not necessarily knowing if you will produce anything of value, that will then go in the book, or just sit on a shelf of No’s. There are 10 people at my studios, we have a room each, with floor to ceiling walls, but no sound privacy. My friend on my right is a Gothic who loves death metal but is evolving to Peter Gabriel! You have to be able to go to work, day after day, with no incentive, no pay, and keep going, when it’s dark and raining and you have to forgo a coffee because you need to bus to go home. You have to be your own coach and believe in your artistic practise.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I’ve been working on a large book of poems and pencil portraits, called “Torment & Soul”.
In my fifth book I wanted to simplify, go from having full colour plates in “Nature – a gift” to simple pencil portraits. I haven’t drawn a portrait for a year – which is a long time, but I am writing a lot so that is a relief! At least one bow is working. The book is sectioned into big themes – I wanted to tackle themes like God, Love, Madness, Nature, War and Life.
At 38, I hope this will be my magnum opus ... well, I hope so!
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Everything Nature makes including us. Flowers have always seduced me with their naked beauty - goes back to the daisy chain in Devon – sitting there crying because I couldn’t see much at all – squinting at the daisies. I am always inspired by the curves and beauty of women. I also have a series on dance I exhibited in shops and galleries around Melbourne. My first series while being at my studio since 2007 - Women, Dance and Flowers are my constant inspiration.
Isadora - © Bee Williamson
watercolour, pencil and paper.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR EMERGING ARTISTS?
For emerging artists I would say, “it’s not that hard”.
It’s not too hard to get exhibited. It is not as difficult as we think. I started small, a “micro” exhibition at my local café, then competitions and group exhibitions have a litany of rules and specifications, but if you can have the courage to submit and the patience to read all the specs you’ll find the world is kind to emerging artists. I don’t qualify anymore, so miss out! But don’t let hazards of creativity, like depression and anxiety push you around. People will say nice things about your work, you’ll be amazed. There are charlatans along the road, black days of rain and no inspiration, but you are not alone.
WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED?
My favourite compliment was an action not words. My local café, Pheast48 in Armadale, took me on as a poet-in-residence for two years and were happy to launch the book, ‘Nature – a gift” at their café and at their expense. I would sit there, among the chandeliers, huge rose paintings and write for hours. Here is the link to the books for sale – e-book or hardcopy. It has 30 poems and 45 illustrations and costs $20 (hardcopy)
Blossoms & Dancer
Taken from Nature – a gift
The Dance short film: -
Clancy's comment: Thank you, Bee. More than interesting.
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