FACE PAINT­ING

Australian House & Garden - - DOMESTIC BLISS -

Artist Robyn Sweaney spent her child­hood in sub­ur­ban Mel­bourne dur­ing an up­surge in af­ford­able Mod­ernist ar­chi­tec­ture. “The small-house move­ment,” she says, “was ahead of its time. I al­ways no­ticed that these homes held a proud self-posses­sion, prob­a­bly be­cause they were so ex­posed to the street,” she says. “Sub­tle de­tails gave signs of the lives lived within.”

In­flu­enced by piv­otal painters of the Aus­tralian scene – such as Jef­frey Smart and Howard Arkley – Robyn has fused those me­mories of the early 1970s with her cur­rent fam­ily life in Mul­lumbimby, NSW, and made houses her theme of choice. En route to her stu­dio, she passes many of her sub­jects and revels in their com­pact beauty. The flat planes of their walls, win­dows and lawns catch the shifts in light that she seeks.

Robyn has con­tem­plated de­pict­ing more con­tem­po­rary houses: the swollen fortresses be­hind roller-door garages and chunky col­umns. But they’re not this artist’s ter­rain. “Mod­ern replica houses give no hint of the peo­ple who live in­side them,” she ex­plains. In the eyes of this artist, to have a soul, a house must also have a face.

Hold­ing Pat­tern ( acrylic on poly-cot­ton, 53x73cm), one of the in­trigu­ing works in Robyn Sweaney’s Back­wards Mov­ing For­wards solo show at Syd­ney’s Art­house Gallery.

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