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Covering The Banana Shire
Central West Queensland

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24 March, 2021

Artist teaches locals to love their artistic messes

ADELE Outteridge, artist in residence for the next two weeks, said she was incredibly proud of the talent in the shire.

By Michael R Williams

Ms Outteridge showing off her folded book sculpture. PHOTO: Michael R Williams

ADELE Outteridge, artist in residence for the next two weeks, said she was incredibly proud of the talent in the shire. 

A scientist by trade, Ms Outteridge said her background had influenced her work.    

She now travels the country as an artist and has visited many different places.    

Last weekend Ms Outteridge took some locals out to Myrella for a workshop.    

“We took 15 women, all talented artists who I admire and highly respect,” Ms Outteridge said.    

“It’s a two-way process, always, I’m always inspired by the people I work with.    

“Even the shyest member of the group, turns out she’s just amazingly talented, and you think all it is, is giving someone permission to express themselves.”   

She said an important part of her teaching was letting her students know it’s okay to make a mess in their books.    

“If you muck up a page, it doesn’t matter,” Ms Outteridge said.    

She said she was hoping to bring the idea of artist’ books to many communities.   

“Not a lot of people know what an artist book is – not until you make an artist book – and they think glossy, coffee table content, ‘whatever’, essentially an artist book is a work of art in book form.”   

She had several different representations of her work from sculptures that reimagine the "book form" to differently embroidered scrapbooks.    

“There are many, many different ways of creating artist books, they can be a very formal photo book, or there are some pretty wild sculptures,” she said.    

With her were some journals kept by her late studio partner Wim de Voss and a catalogue from his last exhibition before he died.    

“He had a huge influence on me over the years,” she said.    

“As a mentor, as studio partner for 27 years, as a friend, you know the whole deal.   

“Unfortunately, he got the dreaded cancer and battled it for two years and then unfortunately succumbed, but I’m still carrying on his legacy as well, I mean I’m an artist in my own right —so it’s his legacy but from my philosophical point of view.” 

She said he was the sort of person born with a pencil in his hand.    

“His main form of self-expression was drawing,” Ms Outteridge said.    

“He would have taken 50 drawings over the weekend; I took 500 photos, but it’s a way of capturing an ephemeral situation.    

“Sunsets are ephemeral, so I took 40 photos of the sunset on Saturday night, he would have been madly painting it.” 

She said there was a difference in the way they saw and recorded information. 

“I studied at Melbourne University back in the 60s, I’ve always been a scientist, born and raised,” she said.    

“From even when I was a little tiny kid, people would ask ‘what are you going to do when you grow up?’, and I’d say, ‘I’m going to be a naturalist’.”   

“Anything that appeared in the biological sciences appealed to me, and all the way through school, I did science, maths, chemistry, physics, and biology, in the days when I went to school you only did art if you were good at it already.   

“And this idea that I could learn to draw was something so foreign to me, it wasn’t until I got well into my late 30s - early 40s that I learned that I could learn to draw.”   

Ms Outteridge said she grew up watching her family sew, crochet, and knit, and since she was a kid, always had a needle in her hand.  
Book's arts, the theme of her main body of work, was “something wonderful that just came to her in the mid-80s”.   

“I joined a graphic school, which was just wonderful,” she said.    

“I did quilting, which I’m passionate about, the first artist book was a journal by an American artist call Joan Schultz, who gave it a friend of mine as a gift.   

“And I looked at this and thought, my destiny is tied up in this, and I knew that was what I wanted to do, and I just couldn’t believe there was anything so incredibly wonderful in the world that was something that I looked and thought ‘I could make this'.   

“It was not like looking in the library looking at beautifully bound books by bookbinders – a process which I have a huge respect – the leather binding is just, y’know’, I just don’t happen to do it.   

“I call them [her books] my feral journals.”   

She said after teaching her journal-making workshop she had learned to scribble in the first six pages.    

“I ask my students a few years later, ‘what did you put in your journal?’ and they say, ‘Oh no I couldn’t put anything in it, I didn’t want to spoil it’ so you say, ‘umm what’s a journal for?’,” she said.    

Therefore, she has changed the direction of her classes to be more about loving their mistakes, and how that is a part of the process. 

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