Local artist Paula Whiteway, seen here with actor Dan Wylie on the film set of ‘The Passengers’ (Writer/Director Simon Portus, photo courtesy of Maddie Whitford), will be one of fourteen artists exhibiting in the new @ the Art Space Urunga exhibition opening Saturday May 13th. The new exhibition reflects the breadth of styles and talent in the region.
Paula has amassed an extraordinary number of creative achievements. An architect by training, Paula has worked predominately as a set designer in the Australian film industry, where she is recognised as one of the few ‘hand draftees’ left. “I’m an incredible luddite by nature” confesses Paula. Achievements in this field include set designing for ‘The Railway Man’, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean- Dead Men Tell No Tales’ and ‘King Kong- Skull Island’, all feature films.
Time off from film sets is spent creating, from intricate hand drawings, graphic design, timber-work, clothing and hat design, animations and film clips. Paula has been the resident cartoonist with local magazine ‘Bellbottom Magazine’ and was the designer and partner of ‘Alice Confusius’ Fashion House in Bellingen until 2012. Paula is also kept busy being a single mum, living in “the wonderful seaside town of Urunga” with her “three fiesty minions, Jarrah, Tasman and Uki, and a Princess Pussy, Pip.”
Her latest creative enterprise involves the delicate illustrations “from the menagerie of Scarlet Sagan”. Scarlet Sagan, Paula’s ‘nom de plume’, came from a conversation with her “delightfully inspiring muse. Scarlet is my favorite colour and ‘Sagan’ from Francoise Sagan, a delightfully naughty French novelist.” Paula draws using pencil and sometimes ink. “Illustrations range from markers and felt pens to watercolours.” This series of illustrations are predominately graphite on a Moleskin sketchbook or on Stonehenge paper.
The illustrations are a series of anthropomorphic characters, that began with “the desire to confront an ‘elephant in the room’ – a situation or problem that was present but awkward to open up for discussion for fear of creating problems (the elephant is often ignored or not acknowledged for fear of confrontation).” The idea has slowly developed from there, with each of her illustrations having a little story attached. “I observe the goings on around me and they inspire a feeling or response, and a character emerges and the bad dad puns bubble forth,” says Paula. “I enjoy that viewers engage with the characters too – they may recognise an element of themselves, or a situation that they are in, and feel an empathy or connection to the character. It’s important for these interactions, because it means that what I am creating is sparking an element of imagination in others, and that is something that I have always wanted to do.” Again, Paula admits that her ‘muse’ and her children “provide me with a wealth of material.” Paula does stress that her characters are “entirely fictional and not a true representation of any persons known.” Or are they- we can all decide.
Paula is currently collating the characters into an illustrated book and has also been approached by a writer/director to see if they can come up with a further story for them. Exciting times.