Louisa Chircop

Fingers in her Anguish - (Self Portrait as a Grotto), 2021

29 × 24 × 32 cm
Inspiration for this work came from a subconscious collision of the pandemic with a recollection of memories about building fountains and grottos around my home as a child. The concept of the virus as foreign, harmful and dirty, manifested as fear, anxiety and stress in my body. Feelings that mingled with the pleasures of being isolated and cocooned in the fantasy world of my studio, organically evolving from a perfect storm of elements. ‘Fingers in her anguish’ (self portrait as a grotto) explores the idea of my body, mind and soul taking form in the shape of a grotto. The grotto (self) becomes a place of ritual re-cleansing and meditation – a shrine to the artist’s soul where the viewer is simultaneously invited into my world but is also locked out. The work becomes part of a public arena, dealing with personal truths collected from an insular experience growing up in an immigrant family in Australia. The grotto is a pun about many things. Thinking of the cultural significance of grottos in the European landscape, it’s hard to imagine their reconstruction as sacred shrines in Australia. Their alien-like presence and shady appearance alludes to themes of intrusion, otherworldliness, perversion, ritual, moral cleansing, and existential questioning of the unknown, representing a consecrated visual expression of creativity that is possibly immune from being judged. I continue as a grotto.
Born in Sydney, Chircop holds an Associate Diploma in Fine Arts from St George TAFE and was awarded the NSW State Commission medal for fine arts. She has won the Basil Muriel and Hooper Scholarship at the Art Gallery of NSW. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours Class1 and a Master of Fine Arts Research degree in painting both from the College of Fine Arts UNSW assisted by an Australian Post Graduate Award Scholarship. Chircop won the Paddington Art Prize Highly Commended Award in 2021 and is currently a current finalist in the Adelaide Perry Prize. Chircop has also been a finalist in the Dobell Prize AGNSW; the Portia Geach Memorial Award exhibited at the SH Ervin Gallery; Adelaide Perry Drawing Prize (PLC Sydney); Hazelhurst Art on Paper Award Hazelhurst Arts Centre and Paddington Art Prize Sydney. Her work was acquired from the Kedumba Drawing Award for the Kedumba Collection of Australian Drawings which is considered one of the most significant and important collections in Australia. She has won the James Gleeson Prize for Surrealism at Campbelltown Arts Centre twice, the FOH Hazelhurst Art on Paper Award, the John Copes Portrait Prize and twice been the Critics’ Choice of Guardian Art Critic and ABC Arts Presenter Andrew Frost. In 2015 she was a feature artist in Artist Profile magazine and most recently in 2018 she was awarded both the coveted Bundanon Trust Artist-in-residence as well as residencies with Hurstville Regional Art Gallery and Museum in 2021. She was recently a recipient of the DRAWinternational Residency in France which she is due to commence in 2022. Chircop has twice recently been invited as a podcast guest on Maria Stoljar’s highly esteemed and very popular ‘Talking with Painters’ Australian podcast series. She is currently a finalist in the triennial McClelland Contemporary Watercolour Award held at McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery in Victoria Australia. The acquisitive award is supported by the Fornari Bequest and will be judged in September 2021.

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