Brazen hussies? Ladies of the night? Like the foxy women on a Duran Duran video clip they caught my eye on the stand and I pocketed a handful. The two feline apparitions in jade, with plunging necklines encrusted in bling, certainly drew me as I passed them, climbing the stairs to view some exhibitions at the Salamanca Arts Centre. They had attitude, this duo. Were they out to tempt a cashed up john or simply making themselves available for the main chance? They were patently creatures of the night, undoubtedly falling away into the shadows when a pale dawn approached. Or, at least, that’s how I imagined the situation portrayed to be when I returned back to my abode by the river, as I placed them with the other Avant cards I had gathered here, there and everywhere over time. Then, later on, as they were still staying with me, I extracted them and put them aside to check out their provenance the next time I ventured into the ether. And this is what I discovered.
It turns out their creator is one Jane Stradwick, a pencil and ink conjurer of most appealing images. This one, ‘Late Night Hotel’, is part of a series of hers put together to illustrate some short stories, collectively entitled ‘Girls on Film’, thus the reference to Simon Le Bon and his lads from the eighties. The artist is Aussie born, but raised in NZ, doing her training at Auckland’s Whitecliffe College of Art and Design. After vocational dalliances with costuming, hairdressing and make-up consultancy, she became a site planner for archaeological digs. This career took her to Thailand, Ireland and lands closer to home. Her illustrations of artifacts from this period of her life appear on her website and in various journals devoted to this calling.
The birth of a child in 2013 caused Jane, now a resident of Melbourne, to change direction and return to her first love, drawing. Since that time she has exhibited widely, mostly around Yarra City, but in the US as well. Of her work she opines that she attempts, ‘...to extract the most beauty I can with every piece, and with coloured pencils you can layer the shades so there is a wonderful depth and opportunity to create a gorgeous colour palette.’
As for the image and others from the series that I was drawn to, she continues, ‘I have had a love affair with fashion magazines ever since discovering them as a kid in the 80s. They featured fiercely strong women, glamour, exotic locations and escape from my hometown in NZ. Strong geometric lines on one page; glaring desert sun location shots on the next. Anything was possible between those covers. Girls on Film is my homage to the memories of those pages and a celebration of the fashion of an era.’
Ms Stradwick is more than just ‘Ladies of the Night’ though, working across a variety of themes including, ‘...self-expression and identity, repetition and scale, historic fashion imagery and literary characters.’ On her website, if you care to visit as I did, there is much to please the senses from this forty-four year old, an artist who, in her own words, ‘...aims to be present in every experience and not to judge herself for whatever I feel.’ She is inspired by, ‘…people that (sic) are unafraid to be their truest selves.’
As she has showings frequently in a city I visit regularly I intend to be on the lookout for her with future sojourns. But for now, a ‘Late Night Hotel’ card has its place in my man cave.
The artist’s website = http://www.janestradwick.com/