The Tale Of Miranda & Harper Skoczek
Miranda Skoczek's big, beautiful, vibrant artworks are swoon-worthy, to say the least, a joy to look at and in demand. She seeks inspiration from travel, nature, art, design, fashion and her everyday surrounds. A childhood immersed in art clearly influenced a life dedicated to creative pursuits, which she hopes will in turn for her son four-year-old son Harper. "My passion for art could be attributed to a childhood exposed to the arts and culture. My Mum has a voracious appetite for it, and I guess it rubbed off. Along with travel and an engagement with different cultures, art is what sustains me. I open my four-year-olds eyes to it any opportunity I get. It's beneficial to the soul, and beneficial to the advancement of society, so naturally I am pretty passionate about it". Clearly she has an incredible eye and understanding of colours and says of her work, "My paintings speak of a desire to create sanctuary for the self".
Skoczek has exhibited her work internationally as well as throughout Australia in solo and group exhibitions. She admits being (a very busy!) creative and a mother isn't easy. "The hardest part is most definitely the challenges to my patience, but I am getting better with it. The best part, undoubtedly, is the perpetual laughter. And most importantly, the immense love and pride my son inspires in me every (almost) minute of the day. There have been some very interesting times where both Harper and I have been in the studio together. It's chaos, but it's fun. Being self-employed and having the tendency to daydream, I spread my working day out into the night, and over the weekend and social activity has to take a back seat".
With three degrees under her belt, Skoczek hasn't put a paint brush down since her school girl days. "What has undoubtedly served my career well is my commitment to producing honest work. It's corny to say, and by many, viewed as completely self indulgent, but I produce work that comes from the heart. I've never tried to be someone that I am not. All through art school I produced work that my teachers frowned upon, it is not at all political, and not in the spirit of the time, but I stuck to my guns and now its paying off".
Her light-filled Melbourne apartment is brimming with exotic treasures, artworks by Skoczek and her artist friends and pieces found on travels. But most importantly it is a happy place to be. "Filling your home with pieces that inspire, that trigger memory, a home that looks lived in, not something akin to a museum. I always refer to Alain De Botton on this subject, and he states that a home is the guardian of our identity. I love this, and I live by it".
The most significant change has been my becoming more focused on routine, and, better organised, although this will continue to challenge me until the day I die! Also, my social calendar is naturally not what it once was. I tend to save time for overseas travel, hopefully my friends shall forgive me. I've learnt that it requires far more patience than I possess, and that children are truly the funniest and most wondrous little creatures.
On her home...
I've been in this apartment for two and a half years, but the place looked very lived in after about a week. I can make anything look like me as I've been collecting since I was 21. At 38, I have quite the collection of art and design, antique and mid century furniture, tribal rugs, books and folk art. I always refer to it as carnivalesque. It's like a fun park, as it's very colourful, and I gravitate towards the weird and wonderful. My home and my art and studio, are so intrinsically linked. Almost everything I buy for my home, including my clothes, directly influences my work. Being a visual person, I gravitate to the things that delight and inspire me, when I acquire them to paint they end up in the studio, either staying there on the wall, or they find a place in my FAR from minimalist home. Many pieces have been sourced on my travels, and therefore have a story and trigger an emotional response. My paintings are of a personal language, but they are very much too about the promotion of happiness, that's what I seek to produce in my home.
On Harper's room...
Harper's room is the result of years of collecting treasure from far off places, many of which were bought well before he was conceived (but always with my first born in mind). It is a happy, colourful and fun space that invites discovery and play. It is a good mix of original art, furniture pieces hell grow older with, beautiful books, vintage tin toys and unusual pieces (such as Oscar the taxidermied Barn Owl) wooden toys and plenty of dress ups.
On being a working mother...
I sacrifice sleep, and I rarely reply to emails, I do hope to get better at both. Obviously being as present as I can be for my son, and closely followed by a commitment to my craft, I haven't room for much else. I'm very lucky to have a supportive family, especially my Aunty who lives close by. She is like a Fairy Godmother to us both. Also, being self-employed I have the luxury of slowing down and ramping up the workload as I see fit.
On becoming an artist...
No secrets here, just the usual formula of hard work, persistence, oh and a strong sense of self has helped. It took me years of study, from Graphic Design straight after school, a Diploma of Visual Art and then finally a Fine Arts degree with a major in Painting. The year of traveling through Europe after my first course, at age 21, was probably the greatest influence on my life as an artist (and person). I'm most looking forward to seeing my entire collection for Australian fashion label Gorman in store. And after that a jewellery and soft sculpture show at Pieces of Eight Gallery in Melbourne. And in the same month, my show with Edwina Corlette Gallery at Sydney Contemporary (International Art Fair).
On her clothes...
I went to a Catholic girls' school, so there is not a hint of a uniform in my day-to-day, night-to-night wardrobe. My dressing is as eclectic and varied as the interior of my home. One day I can be quite classic with a twist, the next day I look the antithesis to this in street wear with a luxe jumper and tribal jewels. It's mixed up and unexpected, can be over the top in its colouring, or on the other hand, all white and pared back.
On sticking to a routine...
Indeed babies/children require routine, all research confirms this, and that is why I am constantly battling against my Aquarian, free spirited tendencies to be a routine (loosely based version) Mum! Morning, I must admit, is the looser part of the day, but I try to be vigilant with structure at night, it is always a bath, dinner, puzzle (if I'm organised) bedtime story scenario.
On art influences...
The Ancient Greeks, Romans, Aztecs, all of the Ancients really. Matisse for his fearless use of colour. Cy Twombly for being so God Damn romantic, and for bowing down to The Classics! Gustav Klimt for his fusing of the Decorative and the Fine Arts. Rhys Lee for making the scary and grotesque, beautiful. Stanislava Pinchuk (aka Miso) Emily Ferretti and Laith McGregor, not only are they my friends, they all create the most unique and amazing work, and they inspire me to be a better artist.
On sleep deprivation...
The first six months with Harper were a dream. He was sleeping through the night at six weeks, he barely cried, life was GREAT. Then all hell broke loose for the next eighteen months, his sleep was a total mess, and I was busy with work and functioning on very little sleep. I tried everything from a sleep specialist (who was WAY too regimented), naturopathy and a million questions fired at Mum and friends who had kids. As my Mum told me, the only constant with children is change, and would reassure me it would get better.
Mirandas little list of loves...
Architectural Digest (Spanish edition)
Vintage Navajo turquoise jewellery.
Oliver Jeffers (children's author and illustrator). I just love reading his quirky little stories to my quirky little boy.
Anything by Kym Ellery.
Big Mama Thornton.
Scouring the world through the best shop in the world, ebay, for vintage amulets and pendants.
My son's imagination, where, how, do they come up with these things, I just love it.
Victorian sampler embroidery.
Mexican Huichol decorative art.