Ruth Stone lives in Carcoar, one of the most beautiful, little, historic towns in NSW. Carcoar is nestled down in a small valley between Blayney and Cowra, a mere 35 minutes drive from Orange, frankly I can't believe it's not more of a tourist hot spot like Millthorpe! The old shop fronts, hotels, buildings and homes are amazing, you feel like you've traveled in time! Make sure you pack a picnic and get yourselves there for a day trip pronto!!!
Ruth Stone lives in one of these magnificent century old homes perched on a hill side over looking a valley with magnificent views. The interior is warm and cosy and Ruth's older artworks hang on every wall. Down stairs in a sunlit ex-carport is where the magic happens. There's plenty of storage, light, and space to get messy down here. Ruth shows me through her process from initial sketches drawn several years ago, through to painting the finished pieces and framing the works herself.
You’ve had quite an extensive career in the art world. Tell us about your background and training.
I did my undergraduate degree at the National Art School in Sydney starting in 1996, which started as a Cert IV in fine arts and was so excited... I couldn’t stop! From NAS I then went straight into Honours and Masters Fine Arts, Painting (Research) at COFA Six years at Uni...could have been a doctor. But I can’t imagine being anything else, creativity simply must be expressed. Being an artist brings me such joy, I'm a great believer in following ones passion!
In 2014 you were selected for the Hill End Artist in Residency Program. Tell us more about that experience and the effect it has had on your new work.
I had a month in Hill End at Murray's Cottage. I took some leave without pay to do so. I did a massive shop and headed for the Hills, not coming out for a month. This total emersion in Hill End was a very seminal experience for me and has had a huge impact on my work and process. I remember the artist John Beard in an interview talking about his residency in Lisbon. He talked about the total immersion experience and how it becomes a part of your DNA...the affect is that the work comes through for years after and in the most surprising of ways. Hill End left such an imprint and I can still place myself there just by closing my eyes. My work was very affected by the experience and I came into deeper confidence of my own artists truth.
Ghostly figures appear in all of your latest landscape paintings. Why is that? What does that mean to you?
My new work is very much about Hill End, however the landscape for me can’t exist without the figure and the ghostly figures which emerge seem to jostle uncalled... for a place in my paintings.
The up-coming exhibition at The Corner Store Gallery is titled “Journey’s End”. Is this related to your Hill End Residency? The paintings in this exhibition are quite different to those from your solo exhibition at Bathurst Regional Gallery, although they are a continuation of the Hill End journey. Why do you think that is?
Yes fundamentally connected to Hill End! 'Journeys End’, refers to Hill End, the end ...and the next phase...comes a beginning.
The paintings at Bathurst Regional were a part of the journey... a contraction, in a positive sense which focussed microscopically on the immersive nature of my residency. Expansion then follows as the process becomes deeply absorbed in the psyche... This new work is a passionate expression of my connection to this profoundly historical and amazing place. There is a magic there. It is as if Hill End invites artists in to tell its story.
Talk us through the steps of your artistic practice. Do you work from drawings, photographs or the imagination?
I went bush every day in HE walking kilometres with my dog. I gathered a lot of research material, many sketches, small paintings and photo images. However, I know the place so well that it seems to spill out whilst I'm working in a very spontaneous fashion and are very imaginal one. The new found confidence which comes through a deeper understanding of the content and myself.