If you’re not familiar with the name Anya Brock, you’ll likely know her work. She’s the artist responsible for the bold, colourful murals that have brightened Perth landmarks, including 140 and the back of the former Paramount nightclub in Northbridge. Strong geometric patterns are a trademark of her pop art approach, as are suggestions of refracted light and crystals. Or, at least, they were.
For her latest exhibition, Detached Perspective, Brock is taking a (temporary) step back from her established style to explore her interest in 1950s American abstract expressionism. She’d found herself drawn towards mark making – the process of creating texture through lines, swirls, dots or hatching, popular with abstract artists. “But I didn’t have enough to draw upon, so I naturally went for drawing figurative work, using expressive mark making,” she says. “I think my work has always kind of had that really loose feel to it. It’s always been marks of abstract hidden within figuration.”
When creating the Detached Perspective body of work, Brock relied heavily on instinct and intuition. While the finished pieces might look effortless and simple, producing abstract art is anything but. “With figuration there’s always the general rule that it’s going to be representative of something, and that can be a guideline and a parameter,” says Brock.
She describes abstraction as a form that has the artist thinking they’ve found a rule, only to realise it’s impeding the process. “You’re constantly creating things, breaking, creating, breaking. It’s interesting, and I think it’s mentally far more challenging, but that’s why I needed to do it, I was just feeling a little under-challenged.”
Despite her success, Brock didn’t set out to become an artist. She’d fallen into painting as a form of release after a decade in London’s fashion industry that included running her own label and working for bigger designers as a sample machinist.
“There was never any foresight for it to be a career move or anything, it just took off,” she says. “It was quite organic and natural, which was great because if I wanted it too much, it would have completely thwarted the whole process.”
She’s since expanded beyond canvas and brick, with laptop covers, iPad cases and tea towels among other homewares. At the end of last year, she added a hotel to her growing list of mediums, following the purchase that she, her husband and some friends made of South Fremantle’s Seaview Hotel. As part of the site’s gradual transformation to The Local Hotel, Brock helped make over and decorate the cosy rooms; just one of the ways she’s easing back into life out west after living on the east coast for so long.
“Sydney’s great, it’s amazing, but I found it too busy,” she says. “I couldn’t get anything done creatively there.”
Detached Perspective runs at PS Art Space, 22 Pakenham Street, Fremantle. March 12 to 26.