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The Friday Files - by The Callen Collective

The Friday Files introduces you to the artists of the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria.

This week I am introducing you to Catherine Lawlor, an abstract expressionist artist based on the Mornington Peninsula. Catherine is currently preparing for her solo exhibition “Reflections”, which will run for three weeks at 26 Advantage Gallery in Highett. Opening night is 3rd March from 6-8pm.

I visited Catherine in her home studio to talk about her background, her art, and the process she uses to start a new work and how she balances all this with family and work.

For most of her life, Catherine has worked as a nurse and artist. As a nurse educator, Catherine’s normal week sees her driving between client sites all over the southeast corridor of Melbourne and the Peninsula where she educates health care professionals about chronic disease management. Outside of working hours, you will find Catherine hard at work on her art.

Catherine has a strong dedication to art that has seen her undertake a Diploma of Visual Art, a Bachelor of Fine Art, drawing at RMIT in Melbourne and many CAE college classes, including a Certificate IV in Teaching, while a single parent, simultaneously raising 6 children and working full time. With this abundance of knowledge and education at her fingertips, it has been the constant and continual daily practice of making art that has seen her work grow, bloom and come alive with colour and movement. She is prolific. How does she do it?

To wind herself down after a very full day, Catherine uses meditation and music to calm her mind and mood and set her thoughts to the images, shapes, feelings and the colour palette that she wants to create. Her colour palette is one of the elements of her paintings that she determines first. To start a new work on a brand-new white canvas, Catherine often begins with the music on and applies ink or watercolour to the first layers. She assured me there is no hesitation in starting on a blank white surface. Making her first marks, she works on the floor, over a large canvas with washes and splashes. Catherine will work over these underlayers using house paint, impasto and artist quality acrylic to build up the texture and opacity keeping any areas of fluidity and transparency that help to tell the story of the work as it progresses.

Catherine spoke to me about her Irish heritage, and she uses her own internal story and connection to that heritage to make marks and points of focus within or over the top of sections of her paintings.

As the viewer standing back from these colourful, abstract expressionist works, you can see and feel the combination of energy, emotions and movement here. Catherine is communicating this through her marks, shapes and the harmony of colours. Her paintings are positive, energetic, full of colour and beauty, sometimes like gorgeous fabric and silks. She is very influenced by fashion, what people are wearing and the colours they combine. Like many artists there are always pockets within the paintings that stand out as her favourite sections and she will feature these on her very vibrant Instagram feed like these images below.

Snippets of Catherine's artwork from her instagram feed, with permission from the artist.

Catherine’s artwork is large, some pieces are over 1.5m wide, beautifully framed and presented. She works in both landscape and portrait format. These large artworks take up quite a bit of wall space and are perfect statement pieces to sit over furniture and feature walls.

Highlighted in many of the fashion retail outlets on the Main Street of Mornington during the Drift Festival in 2022, Catherine’s work has also been showcased at DE.MO at MADS art gallery in Milan and Fuerteventura, during Fashion week 2021. Catherine was awarded Best Contemporary Work at the Mornington Rotary Art Show 2022. Her work is available through Gallery247 or by contacting her via direct message on Instagram.

Catherine teaches art and expressive painting classes and workshops. In 2022 she taught at Spare Parts Art and also at the Mornington Yacht Club. This year Catherine is scheduled to do a pastel drawing class in collaboration with Callacollective at Dromana. Stay tuned to find out those dates and booking details.

Catherine’s solo exhibition “Reflections” is on at 26 Advantage Gallery, from 3rd March through to the 21stMarch. 26 Advantage Gallery is at 26 Advantage Rd, Highett.

You can see more of Catherine’s work on her Instagram site

To find out opening times and exhibition details at 26 Advantage, click the link below

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