World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 23 - Diane O’Dwyer

Diana O’Dwyer (Australia, originally UK) moves around the world, staying in art residencies. It has become a way of life. In the first half of 2014 she was in the Netherlands, at an Art Residency in Renkum, near the River Rhine and the Veluwe forest. She was there with Lynne Sung, also a painter from Australia.

‘While staying in the Netherlands my central theme was to discover the contrasting effects of water on the land and environment between Australia and the Netherlands. I did sit one day by the Rhine River, and in my solitude was able to reflect on the engineering of the waterways and how the Dutch people care very much about encouraging nature back for all people to enjoy.’

Her theme changed somewhat in the course of the months. ‘The deeper I dug, the more I uncovered about the environment of the Netherlands. As I watched a wasp in my studio, I started to think about where insects fit into our World, and climate change.’

Vast Ancient Land 

Two years earlier, she made an exploratory trip to Central Australia. ‘It’s a vast Ancient Land, with harsh dry conditions and very little water. A week was long enough to stay. We slept under the night stars and listened to dingoes howling. They roamed our camp site as we could see clearly their urine patches and paw prints.

We were in no danger. The evenings were cool and days very hot. Our only relief was to strip off and soak in the quite cold waterhole. The water is stored beneath in a basin, so is cool. There are fish in the water, birdlife and greenery. It looks like paradise in the middle of a desert of rusty red-coloured sand.

This area was the beginning of the Finke River and is a protected region. Soap and shampoo are prohibited, as absolutely nothing is allowed to contaminate the water in order to protect local animal species. We certainly looked forward to our hotel in Alice Springs for a hot shower! Even then the fluffy towels showed remnants of red brown colour - no amount of scrubbing would wash it away.’

The pollinating bumble bee

There was the rub. ‘The idea to go to a completely different country for inspiration! I needed to learn about the Netherlands, and started asking questions. There were scientists, engineers and artists who had devoted their professional lives to keeping their country safely preserved. So I started to see the bigger picture. My oeuvre started to turn to environmental thought in regard to insect populations and where they fit as a flow-on from rising water levels.’

The key piece in her oeuvre became the pollinating bumble bee. ‘I felt that this very small creature was the symbol of a powerful and important creature that, if eradicated, would cause a major world food shortage. I did not know that the global bee population is in decline and that the wild flowers all over the Netherlands and England are also in decline. I noticed the wild flowers growing in the Netherlands, and now have learned that they are being purposely grown to increase bumble bee populations.’ 

She started her work. ‘The difficulty was finding a bee to keep still, not even still enough for a photograph. My partner in residency (Lynne Sung) found a dead bee and she gave it to me as a present. Here with this lovely fluffy creature I could sketch in any pose I desired and eventually made one Big Bee, 120 x 140 cm.’

Many art triggers

Diane O’Dwyer commenced her Fine Arts Diploma at Sydney Gallery School in 2002 with distinctions in painting and drawing. ‘I continued to school myself by being mentored by several well known artists after that, for another 4 – 5 years. I started exhibiting with a group bi-annually in 2004, while still at college, and continue exhibits every year.’

Her experience of art continues as a way of life. ‘I like to move around the world and stay in art residencies. There are so many art triggers which come to me to inspire thought while travelling, so much to learn and experience. I see new art trends, meet artists who inform me, experience lands and environments and start to see the bigger picture.’

Letting go

‘This is a wonderful way to perceive the World we live in and, as an artist, it is truly an inspiring way of life. While on an art trail, I met a fellow artist in his studio. He gave me some paint he had made from a stash of buckets of pigment in his cellar. He showed me his studio and explained that he worked with mentally handicapped persons. He assists them with art works, he produces books which show their artwork. Their artwork sells, it is called ‘Outsider Art.’

The way to keep in touch with her own philosophy is to keep reading what the old and new philosophers have to say. ‘Life can just get a little too serious sometimes, so the beautiful literature of the philosophers is most uplifting.’

‘My philosophy is in letting go, in order for the big picture to become clear. I would say a metaphor for life. I ask myself the hard questions which frazzle me, and sooner or later the answer just pops into my head. This can only happen if I let go. Letting the painting rest is also a way of letting go. Sometimes it is already finished.’




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