"I was working in a temporary studio at my Sydney gallery when isolation and lockdown started coming into effect, so I made a quick decision to shift my drawing materials back home. I'm very lucky to have a dining space I could commandeer for a makeshift studio by throwing an old tablecloth over the table and setting up my pastel, pencil and charcoal collection in an accordion like sewing basket that fans out revealing lots of little draws..."
"I was working in a temporary studio at my Sydney gallery when isolation and lockdown started coming into effect so I made a quick decision to shift my drawing materials back home. I'm very lucky to have a dining space I could commandeer for a makeshift studio by throwing an old tablecloth over the table and setting up my pastel, pencil and charcoal collection in an accordion like sewing basket that fans out revealing lots of little draws. The last few weeks I've been focusing on drawing, but soon I'll be rearranging the shack like sunroom out the back of my old bungalow so I can set up my paints and easel there. I've been using it as a plant nursery because it gets a fair amount of natural light which means it should be a nice space to paint in (as long as I'm careful not to position my paintings under the odd holes in the roof on rainy days).
Over the fireplace in my lounge room I have one of my earliest pastel works from a series of drawings about a fictional establishment called the Dog Days Motel completed in 2014. The works were influenced by the concept of Dog Days, the hottest days of summer erroneously believed in antiquity to be especially hot due to the influence of the Sirius star rising just before the sun. It was this notion and a quote from Clavis Calendria by John Brady in 1813 about the dog days being a time when 'the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, Quinto raged with anger, and all other creatures became languid' which inspired the discovery of some of my favourite subject matters. I imagined a celestial heat so hot it made the water boil and evaporate from a motel's swimming pool leaving it empty and motel rooms that had been suddenly abandoned, its inhabitants madly fleeing the unbearable heat.
To the left of my mantlepiece I have an illusionistic acrylic on polyester painting by the talented Sydney artist Sean Wadey. Below that I have a print gifted to me by my friend artist Zoe Young of a large painting I sat for in 2017. Zoe has always offered me endless encouragement and generosity and I owe her a work or two for all the paintings and materials she sends my way like an art fairy godmother. On the mantlepiece I have another work by Sean Wadey from his graduation exhibition, as well as a painting by the incredible multi-disciplinary artist Jumaadi. To the right of my mantelpiece is a painting by my uncle Peter O'Doherty who reduces urban architecture to abstract forms and colours and who is a huge influence on me. On the shelf under that is a ceramic figurine by my friend Sam Stephenson, a ceramic I did in my first year of art school and some papier mâché newly wed skeleton figurines from Mexico City. Under that I have a print by my friend Marissa Bagley who I studied with and who is currently producing beautiful glass work.
Isolated on a neighbouring wall and often spotlighted by the light from the dining room I have a painting by Tom Ferson of a building at night shrouded in fog. I find the lighting, atmospheric effect captured and general mood of this painting entrancing and I spend a lot of time staring at it when sitting on the couch. I haven't met Tom but couldn't believe my luck when we decided to do an art swap after I commented on an image of this work on his instagram.
In my dining room (now studio) I have some landscapes by my dad Reg Mombassa, two abstract Australian landscapes by Daniel Kyle, and another two by Eva Troyeur-Gibson as well as a scuptural vase by Nathan White. Most of the artists in my collection are friends and family members who also happened to study at National Art School, an institution and stage of my education I cherish greatly. The isolation from other people during this pandemic is really hard but I'm greatly comforted by the collection of artworks by friends and family members that are keeping me company in their necessary absence."