Interview with Australian Artist Patricia Casey

Patricia Casey is an Australian artist whose work combines photographic montages with embroidery, to create complex images that are both seductively beautiful and psychologically unsettling. Exploring the themes of memory, dreams and imagination, her work has been exhibited and collected internationally. Patricia’s work makes reference to the historical tradition of memento mori in which a lock of human hair, embroidery, fabric, or ribbon are used to decorate the frame or surface area around a treasured photograph, thus transforming the image from a thing of the past to an object of the present. The photographs are handled and touched, the surface disrupted by the stitching. Aesthetica spoke to Patricia to find out more about her work and her future plans.

A: Firstly, what do you draw your inspiration from in your artwork?

PC: There are a number of sources that nurture my art practice but mostly it is my own life and memories that I draw on. I look back to my childhood and younger life at that time when you are discovering yourself as a person, separate to your family yet still have the luxury of allowing your mind to wander. Literary fiction, music, philosophy and spending time in the landscape, also feed my work.

A: You work with photography and mixed media, how do you find these mediums are able to express your artistic vision?

PC: Combining embroidery and mixed media with photographic imagery seemed a natural marriage of mediums. I have always loved to draw and I consider my embroidery as a form of drawing on the photographic surface. Photography and digital imaging are mediums that do not traditionally allow direct contact with the ‘artists’ hand’ and this combination allows me a more intimate relationship with my work, by providing a means of inserting self into the imagery.

A: What is the starting point for one of your works?

PC: I undertake a period of research prior to physically commencing a body of work. I make works as part of series that relate to a specific idea or theme. I will write concepts and draw images before I actually pick up the camera. Field trips are important to my work as I am always photographing landscapes – skies, bodies of water. It is then that I will begin to photograph my subjects and combine them with the landscapes.

A: You focus largely on memory, imagination and dream like states, can you expand on this further? What it is about these themes you are drawn to?

PC: Photography is intrinsically linked with memory. I am always questioning the veracity of the photographic truth in terms of its ability to represent a truth. There is an interesting slippage that exists between different recounts of the one event and this ties in with imagination and dreams. There is a struggle between absence and presence in photography, and in my images between beauty and unease.

A: What do you have planned for the future?

PC: I am just completing a series titled Little Secrets, which explores more directly our interior world; the secret self that we do not reveal to others. There is always a kernel within us that we do not reveal even to those we are closest to. In this series, which will be exhibited in Sydney in March 2014, my subjects are captured moments of intimate reverie, veiled by elements of the natural world. I am always reaching for the next series just as I am finishing the last. |

See Patricia’s artwork in the current issue of Aesthetica out now


1. The Reclusive Impulse, courtesy Patricia Casey
2. The Whispered Response, courtesy Patricia Casey