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Written by Anna Itkonen
Alicia Cornwell paints in her studio in a 100-year-old home on top of a mountain in Olinda, Victoria. She is a visual artist painting still lives of her surroundings; the big gardens with the local flora, the vintage treasures she has collected over the years and striking fabrics from the early twentieth century.
“The objects [I paint] are from op shops or my own collections. I am big on collecting vintage fabrics, so I often start with the fabrics. Next, I add vases and flowers that are in season,” Alicia described. “It is less about the botanical painting, more about the sculptural composition. For example, at the moment, I am exploring flowers pointing in the direction I want the gaze to go; a line in the table cloth or perhaps a pattern in the fabric. My paintings are much more planned out than they look!”
Alicia has drawn throughout her life. When she was young, drawing was her escape and her downtime. In her early twenties, she completed a degree in fine art, but at the time, a career in visual art did not seem feasible. After working a nine-to-five job, Alicia made a twenty-year-long career in the antique business. A business that allowed her to practise her love of collecting and her keen interest in old and vintage objects. It was the antique business that served as a great Segway to go into art full time as well.
“I approached art the ‘old fashioned way’, I guess, and oil paint felt like the obvious choice. I like the way it doesn’t dry quickly, and I still have the option to play with it and mix it around the canvas. It is the same with still lives. When I did my degree, I painted still lives, and I still do.”
Being authentic in her art is essential to Alicia. She does not want to be influenced and wants to stay true to her own art and style. “I try to avoid the in-vogue, the Instagram worthy.” For her, the artwork is “a passion with a value”, as she puts it. Where that value lies depends on the person.
Alicia is one of the artists featured in The Block this season. According to her own words, she is a big fan of the show and having her paintings presented in Scott Cam’s house was a dream come true. “My artworks are featured in Scott Cam’s house – Block royalty! Scott chose the works for his house himself, and they are featured throughout all the rooms. What I love most about my pieces being in Scotty’s house is that it is the original farmhouse on the property, and many features have been retained. That works well with my paintings which have a bit of a vintage feel to them. “
“I was given the opportunity to hand deliver my paintings, and boy did I jump at that chance. Not only did I get a sneaky peek, but I also was able to meet Scotty himself. Then the production team asked if I wanted to film the delivery. Before I knew it, I was mic’d up and filming a scene delivering the artwork. If that wasn’t enough of a highlight, Scotty was gracious enough to give me a personal tour of his house, still unfinished at that stage but looking jaw-droppingly amazing. It was such a memorable experience, one I’ll never forget being such a huge fan.”
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