GILLIAN Adamson is a painter on a search, a search for a "simple life, well lived".
"It's only been in the last year, that's it's really kicked in, that I don't have to have this intense career, I can just slow down and paint what I want to paint now and not wait until I'm 80," Adamson says.
Painting for Adamson has taken on the role of what religion was for her grandparents. By painting interiors influenced by her grandparents' era of the 1960s and '70s, she has found a way to represent what she prioritises in a life well lived.
"I especially like going to my grandparents' house seeing the paintings on the walls there," she says. "They aren't paintings that have been chosen because they are beautiful, they are paintings that are reminders of how to live a good Catholic life.
"There's so many different representations of Jesus and crosses and different symbols...I'm not painting these interiors to make fun of this time, I'm painting these images because my grandparents' home was a place of safety and comfort.
"I had that upbringing that was rooted in Catholicism, where there is this explanation to everything and now that's not as apparent, there's this search to kind of fill the void."
This has found her painting variations of her grandparents' home from photographs and constructing new interiors pieced together from source materials she finds on old real estate websites, from photographs and from life.
There is a contentment in her paintings. There is a stillness, a quiet happiness that is often missing in our busy lives. That's what draws us into her works, the stillness.
Adamson makes us really notice the details. In I Don't Need Anything Else (2021), we realise, upon closer inspection, there are actually three vases of flowers and two bowls of fruit among the papers on the table.
Her arrangements are very homely and lived-in, full of household paraphernalia. She uses objects that can be found in any home and home is where we find comfort, where we feel safe and at ease and where we can be our true selves.
In an Adamson painting, there's no embarrassment of clutter, it's celebrated and viewers are intrigued by what is behind that curtain or we feel kinship because that is the same clock we have on our lounge room wall. She is able to take us into the homes of others, where we can peer into their private rooms and realise we're all the same.
We are all searching for something to bring meaning to our existence. By using furnishings that are familiar, her works bring forth rushes of memories. It is through her art making, Adamson is processing her own philosophy in life, which she is conveying with sensitivity and nostalgia.
A self-taught painter, she first started drawing in her Visual Communications degree and later found abstract painting in 2017. Last year she was mentored by Australian artist Lottie Consalvo during Newcastle Art Space mentorship program. It was during this time she moved into painting the interior works that now dominate her art practice. This year, she is the HIC Artist in Residence at The Creator Incubator.
"That's been one of the best things that's happened to my practice so far, having Lottie to help," she says. "I've just gotten this clearer process I go through to create works.
"Sometimes I get stuck on things and that's one of the benefits of being here [The Creator Incubator], now I've got access to all these other artists. I can just grab someone as they walk by."
The residency has given her a 12-month studio and a fully-funded solo exhibition in the TCI gallery during March 2022. Provided by the Bynon Family and HIC Services, it arrived at the perfect time for Adamson.
"I've been working on my dinning room table...having a studio was one of things I wanted to have this year," she says. "So it's huge. I'm very very excited. Now that I have the space, I'm hoping to work on more than one paintings at a time, get larger and do more installations like I did for the NAS mentorship exhibition."
You can visit Gillian Adamson in her studio at The Creator Incubator, Shed 15A/ 50 Clyde Street, Hamilton and follow her art progress on Instagram @gillianclareadamson.