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artist profile: maria richardson

Maria Richardson, 'Daintree Lovers', 2013 Image copyright and courtesy of the artist.

Maria Richardson, ‘Daintree Lovers’, 2013
Image copyright and courtesy of the artist.


Maria Richardson is an eclectic Geelong-based artist who makes vibrant artworks inspired by the Australian landscape, amongst others things. Recently, I had a chat with Maria to find out more about her work as she prepares for her first solo show in November.

Can you tell me a little about your background?

I was born in Lorne, in the Otways down the Great Ocean Road, Victoria in 1991.

I grew up further down the coast in a small fishing town, Apollo Bay. My Dad, Mum, 3 sisters, brother and I lived in a beautiful, 20 x 30 foot timber house built by my Mum and Dad up in the green hills overlooking the Great Southern Ocean. My Dad is an incredible musician (Howlin’ Wind) and my Mum was a deckhand on Crayfishing boats along the rugged coast, and is a mighty singer songwriter and jeweller (TJ Rich).

We always had a lot of pets, from dogs, to ducks and chooks, aviary birds, to wild birds and sheep, I still adore animals. Growing up in such a wild, unique place, in a household of music and art, and something always on the go, certainly influenced what I do today, and who I am today. I was very fortunate.

How would you describe your work?

Wild, vibrant, unique.

What about your style. You work in an abstract manner. How did this emerge in your practice?

My style of art emerged through my experimentation whilst studying a Bachelor of Visual Art in Geelong. I came straight from high school into Uni, and loved the classes of not only painting, drawing and life drawing; but also especially loved the classes of old-fashioned print making, sculpture, analog photography and art history lectures and tutorials. These subjects opened up many doors of inspiration and ideas for me. Through some of my wonderful teachers, I was exposed to so many different artistic practices, methods, artists, cultures, styles and movements of art over time. I found this endless and such a thrill! I was researching, reading and looking at a lot of amazing artists’ work, who have inspired and influenced my art I make today. I’d always painted abstract animals, faces and plants and used vivid colours etc, however, it was during these 3 years at art school I began to forge my own abstract, electrified style of work.

How did you become interested in art?

I became interested in art from a pretty young toddler age. I was so fortunate to have such huge love and encouragement from my parents and family. I remember sitting outside on the verandah painting with my hands and some old scraggy brushes and sticks with Mum and some kids, and drawing on big sheets of butcher paper with crayons, and tracing things onto the paper. I loved it! It sparked something magic and inspiring inside me that is larger than ever today. I kept loads of sketch books growing up, I was always doodling, and started painting on canvas with tubes of paint when I was about 13. This is where it all began…

What/ who inspires you?

The land, where I grew up, mother nature, animals, people, family, friends, tropical electric colours, religion, the world, musicians: (The Verve, Howlin’ Wind, Moby, The Chemical Brothers, Free, The Space Keys, Rudimental, Led Zeppelin), festivals, films and film makers, poets, comedy, fashion, culture, history, anthropology, the gift of LIFE, and so much more.

I am hugely inspired by the following dazzling artists: Jackson Pollock’s incredible work, and his artistic process, the brilliant Aussie artist Brett Whiteley, John Olsen, Kseniya Simonova, TJ Rich, Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd, Paul Klee, Yayoi Kusama, Kandinsky, Peter Donnelly, Rimona Kedem, Del Kathryn Barton and so many more.

Tell me a bit about your working process 

I use oil, acrylic and watercolour paints on a range of surfaces: canvas, calico, board, cardboard and paper. I also use oil pastel sticks, charcoal, pencil, Indian ink and collage.

Sometimes I use acrylic paint to roughly sketch out the shapes and information in a painting, let it dry, then work with more detail and colour over it with oil paint. ‘Ocean of Trees’ is a work which was done in this manner, mainly because it is so big, and the freedom of a big surface deserved this method.

For my short film clips I use a simple digital point and shoot camera, in a plastic underwater case, and iMovie.

I also make soft sculptures: rabbits and birds, sewn and painted. I use calico material, needle and thread, sewing machine, and fabric and acrylic paints, sequins, feathers and flowers.


Maria Richardson, 'Ocean of Trees', 2013 Image copyright and courtesy of the artist

Maria Richardson, ‘Ocean of Trees’, 2013
Image copyright and courtesy of the artist

You also work with music and digital media. How do these creative endeavours impact on your visual art? Do you see them as separate undertakings?

I feel music and art go incredibly well together. I listen to music always when I’m working. They communicate and complement each other wonderfully. I don’t see my art, my music, and my digital work separate from one another.

I play electric and acoustic guitar and sing. I play in a band The Space Keys. We are currently working on our 2nd album, which I am doing the album artwork for. So, my music and my art do meet together quite often. The Space Keys music can develop into dreamy, cosmic rock n roll jams; which can be identified with many of my dreamy paintings.

I began making the digital short clips over last summer. I filmed a lot in the water whilst swimming, and adapted and effected the footage on the program iMovie, which offered an array of wild effects and power house colours! I found the colours this program offered were extremely inspiring for my painting work. Suddenly in these moving clips, I was seeing outrageous colours I’d only dreamed of mixing with paint, so currently I am trying to learn from the digital computer colours how to turn these glorious colours into real, vibrant and electric colours with paint. For me, colour is hugely inspiring.

Are there any recurrent themes or ideas that you explore in your work? 

My current recurring theme, idea, motif explored in my work is beauty and the dreamy, intoxicating and diverse nature of this great land Australia. From the far northern tropics, to the Otways, desert and major cities, as well as family and friends’ wonderful faces.

Where can people see your work?

On my website and on my Facebook page.

Your first solo exhibition coming up. What can audiences expect from it?

My exhibition will feature wild, electrifying landscapes, and faces in the landscapes, as well as my short film clip projections onto a wall of paintings. I hope audiences will like the exhibition. It will be held from 14th-28th of November, 2013, at Meraki Gallery in Geelong.

What are your other passions, beyond art?

I love music, craft, fashion, sea swimming, the beach, the environment, and people. I love meeting new people, and talking to them. I think everybody has a unique story to tell, and I find all this very inspiring, these stories and conversations of life go into the melting pot of what motivates me.

 Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Hopefully having had made a lot of work, and exhibited a lot of my work. I don’t ever want to give up on my art. It’s my passion and I adore it. I hope to keep producing the best works I possibly can for the rest of my life.

Tell me about some of your professional goals?

I hope to work up to exhibiting in the great galleries of Australia, and one day, the great art galleries of New York, Paris, London and all around the world. I’d love to get it out there for the world to see.

What are your working on at the moment?

At the moment I am working on an oil painting of birds in the tropical Queensland Daintree Rainforest. The work is called ‘Daintree Lovers’. The colours are lush and exotic, and so are the beautiful Australian rainforest birds, who are crowded around together sharing love and peace.


Maria Richardson’s solo exhibition will be showing from 14th-28th of November, 2013, at the Meraki Gallery, Courthouse ARTS, Geelong. To find out more about Maria and her art, head to her website.

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