Milne, a three-time Kilgour Prize finalist, employs the unapologetically intimate collection of paintings featured in Nest to invite the viewer into her home, her studio space, and a few carefully selected social and made-environment Newcastle landscapes. She permits viewers to peep through darkened doorways into bathrooms and bedrooms, to speculate at reflections in mirrors and indulge in secret glimpses of the mundane, ordinary nests we humans establish within our homes. “Nests are evidence that people live there, the places that we create, that make our homes,” she says. “I paint from life, editing my images to reinforce a message that I feel strongly about.”
After a brief introduction of her work, Milne led Foundation members around the exhibition, explaining the inspiration and purpose behind each piece. Laughingly she explained the paintings of discarded sofas and other furnishings as perhaps evidence of nests that have worn out their purpose. “Sometimes I see these things, the hard rubbish people put out for collection – and I think ‘Could I? Should I?’ but I just have to,” she says. “It is an alchemy between the artist and subject matter, a need to put brush to paper – so off comes my backpack and I begin painting then and there.”
When asked about the conspicuous lack of images of people in her art, Milne explained, “I purposefully choose to remove people from my works. Nest is about the evidence of people, the places that people make that make their presence felt”. The lack of people in the Nest exhibition only lends strength to the haunting intimacy of it.
After a delightful dinner break catered by Feast Catering Milne was available to answer any questions from members and offered insight into her process.
Images: Exhibition works and detail of HIDDEN CITY, The Victoria Theatre from the balcony.