When Military Art Program Australia (MAPA) took over the old Legacy building in Fremantle WA earlier this year, our vision was to eventually put an Artist in Residence (AIR) in place, further connecting us with local professional and emerging artists, and establishing an opportunity for artists to get closer to our veterans.
This month that dream became a reality. During September we put out a call to artists in WA for interest in our 2020 arts program that provides free art classes to support our current and former serving Defence Force members, little did we know we would meet our first AIR - Narelle Higgins.
An emerging visual artist developing a practice in 2D media including digital, oil pastel, acrylic paint and mixed media, Narelle's focus is on landscape, abstract works and portraiture.
Narelle's early years saw her in a gifted art programme in high school with her talent extending to music and in the late 80's to early 90's she was also a TV presenter for Here's Humphrey, C'mon Kids, Saturday Morning Cartoon Connection, and Adelaide Garden Show. An occupational therapist by day now, Narelle has really only been playing in this space in the last 18 months.
We asked Narelle in this process what it means to have access to a dedicated space to create:
"I did not visit MAPA with the hopes of being offered a studio space…I popped in to learn more about the program and offer to teach a class or two.
I arrived at the lovely building on Parry Street an occupational therapist who dabbled in art - and left feeling very much like an artist who also happens to be an OT. I could not have been more surprised, overwhelmed or elated!
I am only just finding my feet as an artist, having spent the majority of my working life doing other things. This last year has seen a stealthy take-over of my family’s lounge room with a too-big easels and an expanding assortment of art supplies (they’ll never notice, right?). The opportunity set up camp in a wonderful light-filled space and dedicate time and energy SOLELY to creating allows me to treat this as a legitimate day job, not just a hobby to fit in around other things."
My hopes for the next 6 months at MAPA? Show up. Go for broke. Bite off more than I can chew (creatively speaking). Find my voice…and the confidence to share what I learn with others.
My sincerest and warmest thanks to MAPA for this opportunity and the honour of being your first official “artist in residence” - Narelle
Narelle will be providing classes to our veterans over the coming 6 months and we look forward to helping showcase her work as we support our very first Artist in Residence.
You can find Narelle's art on instagram @narelle.h_art and you can drop in and see Narelle at MAPAs Veteran's Art Centre by appointment.