This week we're speaking to Melbourne painter Libby Haines about the stuff of life: good art and good food.
Centred on food and domestic interiors, Libby's oil paintings are rhythmic, somewhat impressionistic, and speak directly to the senses.
Their feel might be associated with work by local food illustrator Loretta-Ryan Krawczyk, the pink bathroom interiors of Prudence Flint or the springtime late afternoon vibes of David Hockney.
Lobster, olives, wine, sunny slices of lemon - it seems a lot like your paintings are aimed our tastebuds. How would you describe the thoughts and feelings you want your paintings to evoke?
Hunger? Nahhhh. I mean hunger is fine, but for me it's probably more about nostalgia and the concept of taking a moment in time and elevating it through painting.
I think now more so than ever, people are dreaming of places they have been or want to go, and often their most special memories are around food. That's certainly the case for me, I love to cook and I love to eat, and I have so many joyous moments that are based around meals with people I love. So by painting these moments in time I feel I can honour those memories and immortalise these ordinary but ultimately cherished objects.
Chef Anthony Bourdain once wrote - “That without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, moribund.”
With this in mind, do you think there's a similarity between painting and making food?
I love to cook and I love to paint so I can definitely see similarities between the two. With my cooking I love to try new recipes and ideas and once I have one I love I really lock onto it for a long time until I’m very much over it and then move on. I suppose I’m similar with painting, I get locked onto a concept colour or theme for a long time and paint that compulsively until I feel like it’s really reached it’s end for me. The way I am painting at the moment, releasing a few small paintings a week gives me the perfect chance to experiment and paint whatever I am feeling that day.
We can see your pattern making origins play out in your paintings - in your compositions, in the positioning of food or furniture. What's special to you about repetition?
I think with still life I like the concept of letting something ordinary take centre stage. By simplifying elements and exaggerating others it brings focus to my subject matter. When creating a pattern in a painting and using repetition, it further elevated these objects, adding a liveliness and movement to a painting, an element of fun. The subject takes on a star like status that you probably wouldn’t see in such uniformity in real life. I also like the idea that there are things going on outside of the painting… a shadow falling In or just half of an object showing, hinting that the painting is just a taste of a much bigger world outside the canvas.
I think all those years away from painting gave me perspective and when I started again there was no pressure. I was painting for me and whatever subject matter I wanted.
Libby wears our Souq Knit