Tai is artist, curator and writer involved in painting and ceramics, curating, conducting conversations and broadcasting.
The Artist in Residence program focuses on craftspeople who “make from home”. In the Craft Library space, we are recreating a domestic style working studio environment with three makers – also including Rute Chaves and Stephanie Hicks.
We caught up with Tai to talk about her passion of making.
How would you describe your studio or making environment at home?
It's a bit like a big messy, nest!
There is order to the chaos, with projects hatching, growing and sometimes dying and all stages in between.
I have two large sets of plan draws, a tall drafting table which was my grandfather's and a lower desk with natural light and a desk with computer and scanner. Most surfaces are covered in fragments of ceramics in baskets, paint sets, brushes and tools. I have many hooks on the walls with all sorts of different 'materials' and finished works hanging. I have many boxes full of materials and glazes and paints and a few plants and artworks watching on.
Describe what people will find you doing at Craft during this project...
The time I have in my Craft Victoria studio in August will be spent working on up to four new illustrations from my upcoming picture book. The book is in the very early stages, so these will be some of the first finished works, eventually photographed alongside around 30 more by the end of the year.
My process will include painting watercolour background washes, painting blocks of colour in watercolour on rag paper and when dry, cutting them into body parts and gluing them together. Also using clay to create other elements in the landscape like mountains, trees and abstract elements. During my time I will be mainly painting and cutting paper and arranging the already fired clay elements onto the large card backgrounds and then securing them in place with silicone.
What’s the significance of the handmade to you?
It is the signature style of my illustration work for my picture books. The importance of my illustrations being handmade as opposed to computer generated is all about tactility and children readers feeling like they could reach into the book and move the pieces around.
I believe this gives young readers a sense of agency and a starting point of inspiration and motivation to build their own pictures and write their own stories.
The other aspect of the handmade for me is keeping my sanity. I have always loved making things with my hands since I was a little girl and without a reason to do it every day I get quite depressed.
Want to have a cuppa and chat with Tai and the other Artists in Residence as well as Troy Emery? Come to the Afternoon Tea event Friday, August 17, 1-3pm