news 4 June 2018

Artist In Residence – Rebecca Cunningham

Created around the same premise as our BLA! (Brewing Local Artists) event, the Artist in Residence program is here to help generate exposure for Gold Coast artists, and to engage and inspire our community with the depth of creative talent that exists here on the Coast. This month, our Artist in Residence is the incredible Rebecca Cunningham.


Local artist Rebecca Cunningham grew up with a love of drawing and hasn’t stopped since. Creating has always been a large part of Rebecca’s life, therefore her career was an organic evolution. You can regularly find her painting live at gigs or guiding life drawing sessions for fellow artists on the Gold Coast.


At what point did you realise that you had a love for, and exceptional talent for creating art?
Observing art and nature has always brought me much peace. I remember when I was as young as 7 or 8 my Mum used to host craft days at our home for other women and I used to pretend I was sick so I could stay home and get crafty! Since I can remember I have loved drawing and I just never stopped creating and that is in any way I can. I guess when you spend your whole life doing something you get good at it in your own way.

Was there a conscious decision to pursue art as a profession or did this evolve organically?
I don’t recall a moment or an exact point in time. Creating has always been a necessity for me, or more so it has been a large part of who I am. Sort of like a personality trait, you can’t choose all aspects of yourself, sometimes you are just the way you are! My art career has definitely been an organic evolution, from painting, drawing and sculpting to hosting art and music events since I was in my late teens, anything that involves my ability to be creative I have been willing to give it a go.

A lot of native wildlife features in your work as subject matter – particularly our bird life. What draws you to this particular type of subject matter?
When I look at my paintings of the birds I am always intrigued by the personalities that they convey. I love their uniqueness! In my art, I have always sought out ways to humanise animals to remind people that they too are intelligent. I think we forget that we live on a planet that exists without our assistance, we are surrounded by such a fast paced, egocentric lifestyle with instantaneous technology that we lose sight of where we really are.

You also specialise in life drawing. Can you tell us about how you approach capturing or representing the human form?
For me personally I prefer to be spontaneous. I like to use a technique called blind drawing where I don’t watch what I am drawing on the page and focus on what it is I am trying to capture. I feel I have developed a relationship between my eyes and my hands where I can feel the line that I am seeing and then I transfer that onto the paper.

You run Life Drawing Sessions for the public. What has the reaction been like to the classes? And do you see this type of creative escape as important given the busy nature of people’s lives now days?
I have been running Life Drawing Sessions at the Dust Temple for almost four years now. In that time, it has grown to be a big and beautiful community. My sessions are unique because I incorporate live music with the drawing session. People love it, it really allows you to drop into the space and the act of creating whilst switching off from the outside world. A lot of the drawers walk out claiming it’s their therapy or that they feel like they have meditated for two hours. It’s quite a remarkable experience for everyone to be sitting and creating in such responsive and calm environment.

Each year you’re involved with the Byron Bay Blues Fest in a live art capacity. You also featured as a live artist at Burleigh Brewing’s BLA! Do you feel the nerves when performing in front of a crowd or are you able to find a sense of comfort amongst everything else that is going on around you?
No matter how many paintings I’ve done, or the amount of live paintings I have done I aways get nervous! Once I start painting though, especially to live music I just go into another world and I am so, so happy. I really know that I am living the dream life when I get to paint to live music. I have always been surrounded by musicians and never been able to play that well so I just brought my own skills to the table and that way I can be involved by doing something that I am good at.

Do you ever relax and watch the telly like rest of us or do your art projects provide all the escape that you need?
I don’t own a television and I haven’t lived in a house with one for over seven years. I don’t even usually know how to turn them on anymore! I definitely love switching off when I get the chance. Reading books, time spent at the beach with my dog Oak or walking in the dog park is a holiday for my mind! I definitely savour those serene moments because I am usually working on so many different projects.


Find out more:
Instagram: @rebeccacunninghamart

Artist in Residence Burleigh Brewing, Brewing Local Artists


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