Belinda Fox

Belinda Fox’s art is arresting in its intricate layering of detail and colour. Her intriguing hybrid practice is entirely unique, incorporating an array of art styles from printmaking to watercolour, and experimenting with the three dimensional aspect of sculpture.  Interconnecting these different art forms in a collective dialogue creates complex conceptual impact. As a result her compositions – delicate balances of lace-like patterns and earthy tonal washes – transport the viewer into meditations on moments of transition and transformation.

Transformation is a recurrent theme in your works – images of a budding lotus, a flowering branch or birds in flight. What is its significance for you?
A lot of my work is about potential and transition.  Whether something is opening up or dying, or leaving or arriving, it’s all connected to this balancing act of life.  I also get great inspiration from the broader human frailties. Transformation is constantly a part of my everyday life, but also my journey developing as an artist. My work expresses this constant flux and desire for movement, improvement and change.

You initially trained in printmaking but your practice has expanded to incorporate watercolour and ceramics. How has your practice evolved and what influence has your training had on this evolution?
I always think I paint like a printmaker! I love making things, I love materials, and how materials have intrinsic qualities that can be manipulated to create unexpected results. For me making is meaning. Ideas are formed through the hand.  I am learning to value that intuition. I follow a hunch; I love to try something new.

I studied printmaking at VCA and later worked as a studio master printer at Port Jackson Press Australia. I think printmaking has made me value a craft and to be disciplined. Printmaking is a slow and often tedious journey. You must follow the steps to get the best result.  Whether I am working on a ceramic form, a drawing, print, a painting or a sculpture it is often actually about line, form and intent.

What challenges did the extension of your practice present? How did you resolve these challenges – experimentation, collaboration?
I started painting for the practical reason I was pregnant and worried about the chemicals, the labour intensive act of large-scale printmaking and access to studio resources. Once Billie was born I had to find a new way to work.  It was not easy until a friend put me onto clay boards. This surface worked with my style. It has a similar quality to paper so I had found familiar ground. As for collaboration I have always loved working with people. It is refreshing to have other ideas, opinions, and aesthetics to bounce off. You can learn so much from working with another artist.

More practically, can you tell me about your practice, what it involves from conception to reality?
Often past work will start me off for a new series, so something I liked from my past show will be the starting point for a new body of work. Through my experimenting, and once I have a title, a story starts to develop in my head about what I want to say. I often make models of the gallery spaces to get a feel of how a story might unfold as you walk around the space. This is important – how the work connects and feeds off each other.  My ideas are never captured in one image – it’s the collective experience that gives you a true sense of the idea.

What initiated your development of sculpture into your practice?
I have always been interested in 3D work.  In 2010 I did a residency in Greece and was able to do a small ceramic pot with a local potter. It was so enjoyable that I looked to work in ceramics when I returned home, and have collaborated with Neville French for 3 years on ceramic forms.  Making sculptures started out as practical solution but has been really interesting and exciting.

What’s feeding your current work? Are you looking at any particular artists or periods of art making to inspire your current practice?
This year’s exhibitions are titled ‘Excavate’. Excavate relates so heavily to ‘work’ – digging, unearthing and finding new things from old relics. This is particularly relevant as the works are using collage on paper and past prints made into paper models, then cast into bronze sculptures. Both the works on paper and sculptures are often reconstructions of endangered birds from Singapore. By re-creating them from my own past artworks I feel like I am willing them back into being.  Although the paintings do not include past prints they do reinvent a very old motif of mine – the web. It now represents my past, present and future.

I have been reading a great book on Brancusi and Serra that is most helpful for my sculpture works. Also in Hong Kong Basel last year I saw the works of printmakers Uwe and Gert Tobias, I love how they construct their exhibition spaces. I have been revisiting Ann Hamilton of late, she is an amazing artist. Her quiet intense sense of materials and space is admirable and many great lessons can be gleaned from her work.

This article was originally published in Artist Profile, Issue 28, 2014

Belinda Fox: Fragment(ed)
23 July – 22 August 2020
Gallerysmith, Melbourne

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