Written by Emma-Charlotte Bangay
Celebrated artist Miranda Skoczek is more than a breath of fresh air. The painter – who’s abstract works are a sublime marriage of form, colour, gesture and composition – is a veritable feast for all senses. Miranda is all colour, light, laughter and life. There is a unique generosity and depth to her and her art.
Today she sits down with Checks and Spots to talk single-parenting, creative mothering, her life affirming tree change and secret love of daily power naps.
How does your Polish heritage influence your art?
Given Poland’s history – which is pretty bleak – the Polish people have a strong sense of beautifying their surrounds, and there is a rich heritage of colour, traditional costumes, and nature. That is evident in my work, most notably with colour, flora, and fauna.
Now that your son, Harper, is six, how do you reflect on your pregnancy? How did it effect your creativity?
I loved pregnancy and was thankfully aware of the importance of surrendering to the process. I didn’t fear childbirth. I felt it was a blessing as I’m a pretty spiritual person, so I trusted my body and took great comfort in knowing this was what it was designed for! Once Harper was born I kept working. Harper was less than two weeks old when I began working at the kitchen table for a small exhibition of works on paper. It was important for me to keep a connection with my art as it is forever interconnected with my life. They are one and the same.
And today? How has your artistic expression changed being a mother?
My work is very intuitive and childlike. I loved to see the work Harper started doing – he loved painting from a young age, and I remember once a neighbor of ours confused one of Harpers works for mine! I took that as a huge compliment. You can’t learn childlike creativity at any art college. Before Harper, I was a pretty frantic whirlwind. Erratic. So he taught me to slow down and express myself like a child, like a primitive and start from scratch, experimenting more and not overthinking creation.
You are raising Harper as a single parent after a pretty painful break up with your ex. What is at the epicenter of how you parent?
I have many boundaries with Harper, and I’m teaching him to have a good moral compass and to not care about what other people think of him and not to act or live in fear.”
Your art is so evocative and engaging. Is this a reflection of Miranda herself?
My life – where I’ve been, where I want to go and what I want to physically express – are all evident in my work in a spontaneous way. There is no particular narrative to each, nor are they laced with grandiose statements or social commentary. My work is self-indulgent, incredibly intuitive and organic. My ex-partner used to mock me for not having a ‘real job, but being an artist is incredibly daunting. To this day putting works on a wall for people to pass by and critique is tricky, but I have a very strong sense of self so they can accept them or not. That is out of your hands.
Tell us about your new exhibition, Fragments and Sunbeams.
It’s very atmospheric. There is one piece which is cultural appropriation at its best; a blown up copy of an early 20th century african american quilt. It’s called Martha Jane Pettway Quilt and is based upon a quilt stitched from scraps and fragments of material by Alabama woman Martha Jane Pettway; artist of the untrained, artist of the insane. I’ve always been drawn to textiles and I just love how quilts have changed according to the social climate of the time and socio economic background. There are histories and secrets woven into these quilts created amongst women coming together and sitting around to talk. I love the quilt in particular which has a sense of persepective drawn into the canvas so I Invite people to come in close and look and then stand back.
I’ve created this show during a time of internal discourse and some of the feelings and things I’ve gone through over the past five years in the wake of a destructive relationship are there on canvas. [This] type of art is cathartic. My work really is feelings explored mixed with glimpses into my world.
Recently you upped and hot-footed it out of the suburbs to head for the hills. What lead to your move to the Dandenong Ranges?
Late in 2016 Harper and I was at an exhibition and an artist I admired told me she painted from her studio in Kalista in the Dandenong Ranges. That was it. I immediately felt war and fuzzy at the thought of it, and that night I was on realestate.com! We drove up the next day with my aunty and moved a few weeks later into one of the first homes we saw. My aunty lives with us too and has been an incredible support. I do love the spontaneity in my life, but sometimes as a mother, it’s not so practical. Thankfully, Harper has been amazing. He has a great sense of adventure and loves the house, the expansive garden and fresh air to explore. He is thrilled with his school and increasingly accepting of new experiences.
You turned 40 this year with a kick-ass celebration. Does this mean it was a happy time for you which you embrace?
I embraced turning 40 just as I did turning 30. The only thing that worried me is I do want another child, and I’m single. I’m learning to embrace my body a little bit more, I’m not great at that, but I’m getting better.
Has your creativity come to the fore as a mother, or taken a backseat?
I believe you need to be creative to be a good mother. You have to be able to deal with curve balls and thinking creatively is key here. I think the most important thing for a child – other than feeling loved and being warm and well cared for is for – is to be able to express themselves in a creative way and carry that on into adulthood. My biggest gift is to give Harper a creative outlet and life and even though I have been forced to become more routine-like – because I appreciate the importance of routine for children – we still face off each day as a new adventure.
Miranda Talks Her Must-Haves
Food: All Food but it would be pizza. A good pizza thin base, nice little air pockets, salumi and good mozzarella and I’m there!
Designer: At the moment it’s got to be Gucci. I’m obsessed with the opulence and detail. On the flip side, I also love the sharp, simple, architectural silhouettes of Ellery.
Homeware: Lamps I’m a huge lover of lamps and chairs.
Artist: David Hockney.
Daily ritual with Harper: Bedtime cuddles are the best time of the day.
Daily ritual alone: I wish I could say it was a bath with candles but I do love a power nap in the car. Even for five minutes!
Miranda’s current exhibition ‘Fragments and Sunbeams’ is at NKN Gallery Melbourne (208 Lennox Street, Richmond) until May 20, 2017. From 25 May-10 June, her exhibition ‘Physical Thinking‘ will be showing at Arthouse Gallery (66 McLachlan Avenue, Rushcutters Bay).