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Lola Cullen

Artist Lola Cullen

Tell us about your art practice, and the works in your exhibition, My Journey.

I have always been very fortunate to have my own studio space, which has given me the freedom to work unimpeded and without distraction. The works in my exhibition are the result of many field trips, study tours and art lessons (within Australia or overseas). I keep my sketch book and a camera handy whenever I go on a study tour because they are a necessary reminder for when I launch into my major works. Most of my work can be divided into three main categories: acrylic painting, print making and collage, examples of which are in this exhibition.

What have been the main influences on and inspiration for your art making? What effects have these had on your work both practically and conceptually?

I was born and raised in country Australia and as a consequence I have always been exposed to both domestic and native animals. That is where my real love affair with Australia’s amazing landscapes and animals began. This has also played a significant role in my creative development. Playing with my pet animals has helped me appreciate the fun and humour they add to one’s life. It is this humour I like to portray in my animal artwork.

The people who have played a major role in my art journey are Ross Davis, Garth Dickson and Bernadine Mueller. Ross was a long time tutor who also became a very close friend. He had the most significant influence not only on my art but also on me as a person. Ross always reminded his students to examine their feelings towards their art making and this was a pivotal turning point for me. Garth taught me the major aspects of what good drawing is using dots, lines and smudges. Bernadine was an excellent print making tutor and it was through her that I found my talent for this medium. I will always be grateful to them for their invaluable input into my art development.

My current studio is large enough for me to host workshops and to share this space with other artists. To be surrounded by artistic people has been an inspiration in itself.

Growing up in outback NSW, living on a working farm and having a family; can you tell us about the challenges and triumphs of juggling these responsibilities while making art?

I have had the moral and financial support of my husband throughout my entire art career and he is a very creative potter himself. Not having to worry about money has released me to pursue my artistic endeavours with a great deal of freedom. The usual challenges of family life and the sometimes harsh realities of farm life only gave me the impetus to persevere and to make my world an artistic paradise. A very large country garden was my first big artistic venture followed by my first studio. My biggest triumph has been the maintenance of a very tight schedule and not wavering from it. I made sure I used every spare moment in between the demands of family life.

How have you been able to sustain your practice as an artist for so many years and what advice would you give to younger artists?

I was raised to have a very strong work ethic. Laziness was frowned upon and if you didn’t pull your weight you would be reprimanded in no uncertain terms. This early training from my childhood has played out in all areas of my work. Also being the youngest of eight children has given me a certain feistiness and determination to succeed. These attributes combined with my passion and love of art has kept me focussed and forever reaching new goals. It has been important for me to keep lifting my vision and to improve on my skills. My advice to young artists would be for them find good tutors and if possible a strong role model or mentor who is interested in them and their art. I would strongly advise them to work consistently at their art, always looking for ways to improve. I have always worked on a daily basis – not a day would pass without me doing some art work.

View Lola's work