Artist: Rachelle Dusting
Painting: Highs and Lows
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Size: 120cm x 90cm | 2020
We had the pleasure of exploring the wonderful mind of Rachelle Dusting, a young Perth artist that has caught the eye of many with her breathtaking artwork.
What’s your coffee order?
These days it’s an almond cappuccino. Give me all of the chocolate sprinkles.
Where can you view her work?
Why did you choose this piece of artwork for the cup?
When I first discovered the project the images I had seen were a lot of abstract pieces and a lot of landscapes, which I thought was quite friendly to the orientation of the cup. It’s a lot harder to translate a portrait onto a round surface without it distorting. However, because the orientation of this canvas being so rectangular, it really allowed itself to compliment the shape of the cup, inviting viewers to turn the cup around and be more interactive with the piece.
What is the story behind this piece of art?
The story behind Highs and Lows. I collaborated with a brilliant photographer who is originally from Perth who is now living in Melbourne. When I first saw Max’s photography, I immediately was arrested by his work, which to me, resembled a painting. He captures light in a way that has a ‘paintily’ look to it, I don’t know if ‘paintily’ is a word but it’s a big part of my vocabulary. I reached out to Max to ask if he would work with me on a project and he was very excited about collaborating. So I made a trip out to Melbourne.
Max and I photographed one of his friends Millie who’s the model in the painting. She has a very interesting story and a very interesting presence. Millie’s a singer-songwriter and her writing at the time was a soothing & melancholic style of music, which I think reflects the mood of the painting. The series of photos were taken back in 2019 but they only really became actualised during the first lockdown that Perth experienced in 2020.
When WA shut down, it allowed me a bit more time to concentrate on developing a body of work that was really meaningful to my experience through Covid. Also, having come out of some serious heartbreak at the time, it had a big influence on the lens I was looking through.
Highs and Lows is really that tension between and the wrestling of this concept of creating beautiful things and having beautiful moments in life and the tension of carrying grief and an influx of emotions a lot of us hadn’t really dealt with before Covid. Trying to fall into it with grace yet also experiencing that great sadness that came with Covid for a lot of people. Losing a job, being away from family and trying to deal with grief was the reality for a lot of people. I’m quite a hopeful person and I would like to think that the experience people have with my work will always leave them feeling somewhat inspired or encouraged. This work was really challenging because I was trying to outwork my own disappointments and find resolution on how I can still be hopeful during a time when it was difficult.
What I find interesting in Highs and Lows is that there’s so much warmth in the colour, and warmth always alludes to things feeling quite happy yet, the composition of the painting is very somber. This visually describes the tension, with the warmer colours pulling you into a sense of nostalgia and a quaint memory but, the composition and the way that her body is gracefully falling alludes much more to sadness.
What appealed to you about this project?
I love how the project celebrates WA artists. I’m such a big advocate of other businesses getting on board to collaborate with artists and celebrating art. I personally love collaborating so that has been a real draw card for me.
As someone who loves coffee and spends a lot of time at my local Small Farms Wholefoods, having my artwork featured and coming in contact with more people in these cafe environments, it’s a lovely thought.
It’s been really nice to join different worlds together, the coffee world and the art world. It’s an easy and accessible way to have a dynamic conversation and begin talking about art. The art on the cups creates curiosity, starts a conversation and begins questions.
It’s more than a cup of coffee.
Why is it important to support the arts?
I think if the last few years have shown us anything, it is that the arts are essential to people’s wellbeing, to maintaining a healthy wellbeing. I don’t think people realise how much art is in their everyday life and when we’re stripped of creativity how much it impacts our day-to-day.
After coming out of Covid, I’ve seen my business, as an artist and art teacher, shift dramatically. I see people prioritising art in their life, and people coming back to creativity, these activities that make them happy and bring them joy.
Art sparks joy in the everyday and that’s why it’s essential for us to take part, to experience, to use art as a vehicle to have conversations you may have never had before with people you may have not otherwise talked to. Art makes us happy.