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Portsea in Technicolour Texta

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If you live in Australia then chances are you have discussed nationality at some point.  If you are a white Australian, although you may jump at the chance to share your fascinating mix of Anglo-Saxon/European heritage, people generally just consider you Australian and don’t ask.  Growing up as a non-white Australian however, means you are questioned about your nationality or heritage on an almost daily basis. This is something that has always interested Texta Queen and has informed her artwork since her beginnings as an artist. 

Texta was born and raised in Perth and both her parents are from Goa, India.  When she finished art and photography studies in the late 90s, lack of equipment and resources led her to drawing. When a friend gave her a packet of textas, she was inspired and has never looked back.  She began by creating a series of texta nudes that developed a cult following and led to her being shown and exhibited all over the country and overseas.

Most recently she has been in Varanasi, India on a three month art residency, and has divided her time between New York/LA and Melbourne for the past few years.  We spoke to her in the lead up to her starting a residency in the Gatekeepers Cottage at Police Point in Portsea.

Can you give us a sneak peek into what you will be working on at Police Point?

I have been working on series of hybrid landscapes that I started in Eltham last year.  Combining elements of the landscape I am in with flora and fauna and symbolism of India.  Transposing them into the local landscape.

Others are self-portraiture where I am surrounded by elements of the landscape that are hybrids or symbolism. Its supposed to be sort of a surreal meditation on having a hybrid identity.  Reflecting on being of Indian heritage but being raised on land a long way from there.  What does that mean for me who is a neocoloniser on indigenous land in Australia.  It’s about identity and how a place informs identity and vice versa.

I am never entirely sure until I am in the landscape what will happen but it will be an extension of those ideas.

What other artists are you inspired by at the moment?

I have just been a part of this show in San Francisco by Black Salt Collective. They are four women of colour who do visual art and performance. They did a curatorial project featuring 30 different artists of colour. ‘Vision into infinite archives’ was the theme, reflecting on ancestry.  They are doing really inspiring work.

What impact do you think technology has had on the art world since you finished studying?

It is so much stranger now than when I finished art school.  Now that there is social media and there is this number count as a tangible popularity measure, its very strange.  It was so different at the beginning of my career.  Popularity as an artist was very abstract and something you could sense. I work more in isolation now than I ever did before.  I’m not the social person that I was when I began drawing everywhere and was known for doing that.  Nowyou don’t need to be seen physically to have your work seen everywhere.

Do you see these changes as a positive?

I don’t think its ultimately negative or ultimately positive but it makes art a lot more accessible to a lot more people.  People can be making art and selling work and having it seen by a lot of people without having art world approval.

Do you think people should get signed by a gallery before people know about them as was traditionally the case?

No, well that’s not what happened to me. I got picked up by a gallery because they saw how many people, that never went to galleries, came to my shows.  So its not a bad thing its just different.

So when will we get to see the works you create at Police Point?

Being a two month stint, I doubt I will finish anything in that time but in 2017 Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery is running travelling exhibition of my work, and it will include those that I start at the Police Point residency.

Meet Texta Queen

Sunday April 17 10am-12pm

GateKeepers Cottage

Police Point, Portsea

Tickets $12

By Penny Ivison

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