Thank you for donating nail polish, whether you've done so in my home town of Melbourne, or in my new home, Los Angeles. I've created this page to show you my work, and to explain a little about how I made the leap to visual arts. Below is my story, as well as some work I did in Melbourne throughout 2020. I hope you enjoy it!
(For my favourite piece to date, the story behind it and work-in-progress shots, go right down to the bottom of the page)
I've been a full-time performer and producer since 2014. I spend most of my life being a not-for-profit advocate for diversity and inclusion in the arts, doing everything I can to make comedy and the performing arts accessible to everyone, performers and audiences alike, no matter who they are.
In 2019, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I went from being a non-stop Type A overachieving joy-bomb working 7 days a week, to someone still trying to do as much as possible while dealing with hectic brain-fog, being in pain all the time, and having my movement very restricted. I'm still coming to terms with this chronic illness, and like all invisible illnesses it's super tricky (especially the unpredictability around my level of physical disability each day/week), but I've taken more from it than it's taken from me.
Like 102% of all comedians, I also have ADHD, depression and OCD. I'm used to making my perceived shortcomings work for me, ie, weaponising my broken bits. I've always been a fidgety person (thanks, ADHD!) and in the 20 years since I left high school I've always done little arty/crafty things, but never had the confidence to fully commit to it.
Being mostly housebound with the Fibro in late 2019, then watching the pandemic eat up my entire career and income for 2020, I turned to art in earnest as a way of not only self-soothing, but trying to bring more colour and joy into the world.
I love nail polish. I love working with it: the different textures, shades, and the multitude of finishes (glitter, shimmer, metallic, shine, matte...) I love how adding acetone to thin out dried polish completely changes the finish of some shades, and the ways in which different shades, finishes and bottles mix and mesh. I could play with colour combinations and the juxtaposition of textures for hours.
Our move to LA meant getting rid of a consolidated 80 years of 'stuff' for my Husbo and I. Luckily, working in advocacy and inclusion, I had a lot of contacts and options for donating. We gave away most, sold some, and recycled or threw away the rest ('What do you mean, no one wants this threadbare t-shirt I bought secondhand 25 years ago? Not even for rags?' I protest, as the shirt evaporates into the wind like a dandelion).
There was no way of donating my old, dried-up, clumpy or just wrong nail polishes, the dodgy ones I bought for $1.50 in 2003, the ones that had about half a millimetre of product left in the bottle. So, not wanting to take it with me in The Great Move Overseas, I decided to see what would happened if I drizzled some over an old suitcase. It created a swirling, marbled effect and I was immediately obsessed.
I'd also been creating loom band jewellery for awhile, just making pieces for friends and family as little treats. I decided to set up an Etsy store to hopefully pay for this new hobby and maybe make some money to help with bills in Melbourne's extremely strict eight months of isolation.
I did a call-out for old nail polishes on social media, and I was shocked with how many I received. Then I did a letterbox drop on the days I was physically able to walk my hound, and I was again surprised at the generous haul I received: It seems that everyone who wears nail polish has at least 3 bottles they KNOW they'll never use, but can't bring themselves to throw away. I even received useable bottles from people by companies that went out of business over two decades ago - these bottles had been silently taking up space in these people's houses for over twenty years!
So I also like to think that I'm up-cycling these products, and liberating people from feeling like they 'have to' keep these things they'll never use, without the guilt of throwing them away.
This was a painting of an outback cottage, but the piece had significant wear-and-tear so I augmented it with nail polish. There are translucent parts where you can see bushland and cottages. I've also used this method with landscapes from old calendars: framed them and then added the polish over the top. One commission I sadly don't have pictures of, asked for at least a dozen shades of blue on top pf a bush-and-beach landscape.
Once the Apocalypse Rehearsal is over, I am so very much looking forward to performing again, as well as producing other talented artists, running workshops and events, and generally getting involved in everything Los Angeles has to offer.
Having said that, if I could also work with this new art form forever I'd be happy. So I plan to split my time between my career in the entertainment industry with my emerging career in visual arts.
Your kind contribution of nail polish is helping me achieve this goal, and for that I thank you.
If you would like a small bespoke commission, please email me via the 'Contact' page on this website.
Thanks for being lovely!
Some more examples of up-cycling: My neighbour threw out this clock on Hard Rubbish Day, I took it home, gave it a thorough cleaning and discovered it still worked! This design is based on lipstick femme colours.
I also use a lot of cracked or chipped plates and platters, as shown below, to make trinket trays or collectible plates.
My Favourite Piece
One of my first commissioned pieces. I was so proud of it. I sent it off, and a few weeks later I received word that it had completely smashed despite the 'fragile' signs and the billion soft things all around the work. Thank goodness I took pictures!
The piece was based on a beautiful movement from French composer Olivier Messiaen’s ‘Turangalila’ symphony called ‘Jardin du sommeil d’amour’. It’s a gorgeous, iridescent musical landscape described by the composer as “two lovers enclosed in love’s sleep. A landscape comes out of them...”
There were little surprises in the work, my favourite of which was that the lovers were traced with an undetectable coat that glowed in the dark, so at night all you could see were the two bodies intertwined. Another was how in UV or blue light, the flowers would bloom, and different things would change colour under certain light (like the main cloud would shift from stormy blue to royal violet depending on the angle).
I'm obviously going to make them another one. I allowed myself to feel sad about it for two days, but now I'm on the hunt for more of the particularly rare colours the piece demanded.