Award-winning artist Mandi Glynn-Jones isn’t getting much sleep at the moment. She’s busy preparing for this month’s SALA (South Australian Living Artists) Festival and the upcoming Port Festival as well as working on several commissioned pieces and planning a youth arts festival. She’s up to her ears in deadlines, but as she told me, the hardest part is remembering to make sure the car has oil.
Can you tell us about the pieces you’ll be showing as part of the SALA Festival?
My latest artwork focuses on multi coloured portraits of women – I was inspired to use pattern and portraits together, interweaving two aspects of my art. I like the blend of nature and patterns.
How important is something like SALA for local artists?
It’s of huge importance, it offers opportunities for artists to exhibit not just in established galleries, but in a variety of spaces all over SA. It also encourages businesses to develop links with artists and it encourages people to get out and see the amazing creativity that exists here in SA.
A lot of Adelaide artists seem drawn to the Port/Semaphore area. Why do you think that is?
I came to live here 30 years ago – I was drawn to the people, their attitudes, their ability to accept everyone, the multicultural environment and to the history. The Port is a unique space where creativity is welcomed with open arms.
What inspires you?
Art – other people’s art, art galleries, I am inspired by MC Escher and Gustav Klimt in particular, the distorted perspective, fine pen drawing and pattern, and the vibrancy of colour. I’m inspired by architecture and history – but obsessed with pattern! I see pattern in absolutely everything.
Can you describe your style?
My style is best described as a blend of perspective and pattern in black ink – the repetition of certain objects and patterns drawing the work together. I’ve also worked on big canvases, splashing acrylics into loose flowing movements.
While sitting at my very first solo show – where both the bold canvases and fine pen and ink drawings were shown together – I developed a totally new style of drawing in pen and colour and pattern. It was as if having all the work around me, I was able to focus it all into this new style which is such a thrill and I see so much ahead with it!
What initially drew you to making art and where does your love for it come from?
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t draw. I can remember drawing on the inside blank covers of my parents’ novels if I couldn’t find anything else. My grandfather was a wonderful artist and taught me to draw when I was quite young. My father designed creative objects and architectural models of buildings as a hobby and I was always part of his fascinating world of creativity.
Art has always played a role in my life, although rarely the major role, but always there. Art is natural to me – it just seems instinctive! Now that I am absolutely and totally focused on my art it’s all I want to do.
What’s the hardest thing about being an artist?
Remembering to do all the other things that life demands – the cleaning, the gardening, putting oil in the car! The lack of money is an obvious ‘hardship’ at times, but it’s never insurmountable and once I sit at the drawing table and begin – I don’t want to move. I’m beyond content. I could say that there are hard times when that blank moment comes – but once I’ve beaten it, it seems more of a challenge than a hardship.
Do you ever doubt yourself?
I don’t doubt myself as such – but if I feel that the finished result is not good enough, then I can get annoyed with myself for not trying harder or for settling when I could have redone the entire piece. In a strange way I actually enjoy the challenge when it seems to be going wrong! Because I know I have to fix it – it’s a love/hate situation – but the feeling of success is awesome.
What brought you from the UK to Australia? Did moving affect your art?
I immigrated here with my (then) husband, whose family lived here. I’d never been to Australia and really had no idea where I was coming to live.
Yes, the moving affected my art – I have no idea what I would be doing now if I hadn’t left Wales. Without any kind of comparison it’s impossible to assess how my art may have differed – but I am incredibly happy so I have no regrets!
Devil’s advocate for a second. Why is art important?
To me it’s everything. My right hand was accidently trapped under the bonnet of the car a few years ago, I was totally isolated and had no idea what to do, and began to realise that my fingers may not survive. It was a huge awakening – I feel as though my creativity is almost a gift and I need to make the most of that.
How did you break into the art scene?
I put my art life on hold to bring up my three awesome kids, although art always played a part, it most certainly wouldn’t have paid all the bills. Once my three left on their own journeys I headed out to find local art groups. I began with a few drawing lessons to remind myself that I could actually do it – and to test out my skill level. I went on to put a token piece in a local art show, and won a merit award. I felt a buzz of pleasure and decided to try to draw more – and on and on and on.
How can people find out more about you and your work?
My work will be on show during SALA and I have a Facebook page. I’m also Deputy Chairperson of the Port Community Arts Centre and run a pop up studio there – feel free to email and call into the studio.
During SALA Mandi has solo shows at ‘Jurlique’ in Rundle Mall and ‘Chatty at Heart Hair and Beauty’ in Semaphore as well as work appearing at the Port Community Arts Centre group exhibition and Sarah’s Sisters Group Art Show. If that wasn’t enough, she will also have work projected onto a building in the Port as part of the Night Mural Picnic – details on Facebook – and will have an artist marquee at the Port Festival on 19 and 20 October 2013.