It’s really important to have a central hub for Western Sydney artists, and Blacktown Arts Centre’s Creative Residency Program is a fantastic initiative that I’m really excited to be a part of.
My time in the studio is really about connecting, and the connection to space and place. For me, having grown up in Blacktown and feeling very comfortable here, it’s really exciting to be amongst other artists as well working in a space that is familiar.
It’s quite a lonely life as an artist being in a studio doing your work, so it’s great to be part of a community where people can just walk past your door and chat to you. That is also what I experience through the Iranian Women Visual Artists Collective which is based at cre8tiv studios, St Leonards. I travel all the way there because it is a space where other artists are, so they do walk past your door and come in and comment, or show you what they’re doing, and that’s invaluable.
This studio residency gives me the opportunity to connect to Blacktown Arts Centre and meet the staff, and to see what’s happening and have the same kind of conversations with our artistic neighbours.
Khadim Ali, my neighbour in the Main Street studio, is a very established artist, so to be able to meet him and have an informal mentorship is really important to me. To develop professionally as an artist, and in any creative industry, you need to have guidance and teachers all the way through your career, not just when you’re at university and you’re thinking “What do I do now?”
The opportunity for professional development is really important, as I’ve had a really long break from art making. I started my teaching career and began teaching full-time. I’ve had about a seven-year break, so I almost feel like I’m starting again.
It’s important to not have that idea that everything is in the city and if you’re not there, then you’re not part of the community. Having the studio in Blacktown allows for engagement with other artists, and more critical engagement with art that’s happening in Western Sydney. I am not bound by geography.
By Emily McTaggart
Azadi II, 2015, 50cm x 50cm, collage, Progresso pencil and oil paint.
Destination?, 2015, installation, felt mat, paper boats
In Transit (Diptych), 2015, 40cm x 40cm, MDF board, oil paint, LED strip lights, battery back
Freedom Journey, 2015, 80cm x 150cm, pastel, charcoal, Progresso pencil, oil paint and pen on Fabriano Academic paper
N.O.H (nope . open . hope), 2015, installation, ceramic rabbits
My Story, 2015, 13cm x 20cm, pen and pencil on watercolour paper