Audrey Newton

Fantastical. Resin and latex. Guided by her materials. An installation inspired by a vision drawn from the artist’s subconscious. Working across sculptural installation and creative writing, Audrey Newton’s artwork feels a bit like going on a magical journey.

Audrey Newton delves into the subconscious. Her creative process, she tells me, often begins with “extracting ideas from altered states, such as dreams, meditation, or any trance-like state, and giving them a physical form.” This may be as an installation or as creative writing; she works across both practices. 

A pivotal moment occurred while on a writers’ residency at Can Serrat in Barcelona in 2018, when Newton met a fellow writer who pointed out the elements of magical realism at play in her work. This new awareness allowed growth, and provided a conceptual frame to bridge her installations and fiction writing. The literary genre of magical realism brings personal or everyday experiences into a fantastical realm, while still being grounded in reality. 

I visit Newton in her studio at Our Neon Foe, an artist-run initiative in Leichhardt, Sydney. Newton graduated from the well-respected but now defunct Bachelor of Fine Arts program at Western Sydney University. The experimental nature of this program, Newton tells me, where “wild installations and big work” were encouraged, gave her a strong foundation. She continued her studies under Mikala Dwyer at Sydney College of the Arts, gaining a Master of Fine Arts in 2018. 

Artworks central to Newton’s current direction include installations of fresh flowers coated with resin and latex. This process arrests, or at least slows, the deterioration of the flowers, but the passage of time still acts upon them, causing them to shrivel and decompose, leaving behind a cracked resin casing. Newton first showed this work in the exhibition 4Eva at Firstdraft Gallery in 2018. It was in part an homage to German-born, American sculptor Eva Hesse, who also used resin and plastics in her work.

Following this was a period of development and refinement, with Newton showing the large-scale work A rosebud bloomed with each step that I took in 2022. It covers an entire gallery wall with 150 fresh red roses coated with resin and latex – in this work the roses appear to quite literally grow out of the wall. It was recently shown in New Energy at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney. While this work continues a conceptual exploration of the passage of time and the gendering of objects and materials, it also entwines the personal significance of roses for Newton with these broader ideas. Born in Pakistan, she grew up in a Catholic household where this flower was endeared and involved in many ceremonies to do with death and life, spirituality, and religion. The work itself was inspired by a vision drawn from Newton’s subconscious accessed during a dream workshop.

Newton stresses the importance of the agency of her materials, and in so doing she builds a form of communication with her work. Fascinated by how materials can shift their state, Newton enjoys working with liquid latex and resin, pouring and moulding these materials. She allows them to draw their own path as co-creators of her work, before resting in their final solid state. Newton’s installations incorporate the gestural and the painterly, with shadow and light being important considerations. 

Newton is looking forward to participating in an exhibition at Durden and Ray in downtown Los Angeles in September this year – this will be a collaborative exhibition with Our Neon Foe.   

This article was originally published in Artist Profile, Issue 60, 2022.
Images courtesy the artist and 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney.

10 September – 1 October 2022
Durden and Ray, Los Angeles, in partnership with Our Neon Foe, Sydney

Fauvette Loureiro Memorial Scholarship Finalists Exhibition
29 September – 29 October 2022
Old Teachers’ College, University of Sydney, Sydney

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