Anitha Menon is one of the six Central Queensland artists to explore works in the Gallerys nationally significant collection.
Anitha Menon is one of the six Central Queensland artists to explore works in the Gallerys nationally significant collection. Allan Reinikka ROK140319aart3

How Anitha's journey to Rocky launched her career

ANITHA Menon was always passionate about all forms of art, but it was her move to Rockhampton that allowed her to turn her artistic skills into a profession.

Educated in India (school and university) with a Masters and Bachelor degree in English literature and a Bachelor degree in education, she had spent more than a decade living in Britain while always enjoying art as a hobby.

AMBITION: Anitha Menon has pursued art professionally as a career since she moved to Rockhampton in 2015. Pictured is an art piece, Everyday's Valentine by Anitha Menon.
AMBITION: Anitha Menon has pursued art professionally as a career since she moved to Rockhampton in 2015. Pictured is an art piece, Everyday's Valentine by Anitha Menon. Contributed

It was there that she discovered painting to be a therapeutic pastime.

"Painting helped me relax my mind whenever I was stressed, but I started to take it seriously when I moved to Rockhampton in 2015,” she said at her Rockhampton studio yesterday.

Her background in education and literature has helped her to identify the use of symbolism, poetry and conceptualism which she has used in her works.

And Anitha's approach is to find deeper meanings within ordinary objects by blending her thoughts and ideas with them.

Twilight Dreams  by Anitha Menon.
Twilight Dreams by Anitha Menon. Contributed

Her house and the objects within it have been a major influence on her art practice while she maintains her need to look at a homemaker's perspective on various topics.

"I was mainly self-taught so I have a little studio in my house and I used to paint there for hours while my kids were at school.”

Anitha's new chapter in Rockhampton motivated her to challenge herself professionally.

And it didn't take long for the artist's work to be noticed.

Spanish Cocktail  by Anitha Menon.
Spanish Cocktail by Anitha Menon. Contributed

In 2017, she reached a turning point in her professional art career when she was named a finalist in the Bayton Award.

"Ever since, I have done two solo exhibitions, one at the art gallery and another one was an online solo exhibition with the Contemporary Art Awards in Brisbane,” she said.

As she looked forward to what lied ahead in her career, Anitha planned to explore her creativity.

"I continue to practice my art, I really enjoy it and feel connected to this field and I want to challenge my art practice to a different level every year,” she said.

Of Cold and Dark Collectables by Anitha Menon.
Of Cold and Dark Collectables by Anitha Menon. Contributed

Ms Menon will showcase her ideas through art alongside fellow Central Queensland artists Michelle Black, Amber Countryman, Erin Dunne, Emma Ward and Veronika Zeil who'll delve deep to explore works in the Rockhampton Art Gallery's collection.

These ladies will access and research artworks made by fellow women throughout the collection, and will also use paper archive and reference books to study them.

But this isn't an ordinary study.

A Collection of Noteworthy Items by Anitha Menon.
A Collection of Noteworthy Items by Anitha Menon. Contributed

It is a look at gender equity in the Australian visual arts sector, so the artists will reference The Countess Report.

So for a week, the artists will complete an internship where they'll each contribute to conversations of institutional gender representation and look at the national topic on a local basis.

The exploration will create its own exhibition, Counterparts which will be showcased at the Rockhampton Art Gallery from June 8 to September 8.

Chair of Rockhampton Regional Council's community services committee, Cr Rose Swadling said the artists would be enriched by what they learn through this experiment.

And their exploration will also further develop their artistic practice through research.

"Counterparts will celebrate the significance of the Rockhampton Art Gallery collection, while at the same time forging its relevance to today's social, political and community framework,” Cr Swadling said.

Through their study into the artistic contribution of the likes of Judy Cassab, Vida Lahey, and Grace Cossington Smith, the six artists will breathe new life into their stories and ideas which remain relevant in the current political framework.

And it'll also create a platform for voices to be heard with regards to breaking down institutional gender representation.

The project is funded by the Regional Arts Fund (RAF) which is an Australian Government program which has been established to advantage regional and remote arts practitioners, workers, audiences and communities.



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