Artist Tanya Stubbles recovers from brain injury with massive work for – Ausnew Home Care

Artist Tanya Stubbles recovers from brain injury with massive work for Chinese client

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Tanya Stubbles, an Australian assemblage artist who is selling large scale works to China, has a good story to tell about how she became 'woke' to art.

Her sister was at school with painter Arthur Boyd's grandson Alexander and when she was about four, she went to Alexander's birthday party at the Boyd family home, Bundanon.

"I wasn't allowed to go down the river for a swim because I was too young so Arthur took me into his studio and I watched him paint," she said.

"I still remember it to this day and I believe that's when I decided I'd become an artist."

Inspired by Boyd, Gascoigne and nature

Along with Boyd, Stubbles said a few others had influenced her life.

A glimpse inside Arthur Boyd's studio
Tanya Stubbles frequently visited Arthur Boyd's studio as a child.(

ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss


"I loved [Rosalie] Gascoigne's story; that she had three children and started practising later in life," Stubbles said.

"Clearly I embrace her art practice too."

People aside, it is nature that inspires Stubbles the most.

Inspired by Arthur Boyd, Stubbles originally trained as a painter but after completing a sculpture major at art school she now works in a style somewhere between the two.

"I'm a relief sculptor and I've being doing that for about 16 years or so," she said.

As an artist and mum to four children, Stubbles has always had to work hard to make an income, but like most artists she is driven and does not give up easily.

Sometimes the artwork she is creating is purely about the found object — timber with its old peeling paint, for example — but other times, her work is inspired by an idea.

Artist's studio with paintings hanging on the walls
The Timbermill Studios in Bulli houses 35 artists, including Tanya Stubbles's studio.(

ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss


"Sometimes the material governs the work, or the idea governs the materials," she said.

"The biggest artwork I ever created was 3.7 by 5.5 metres which was for the project I worked on in Guangzhou, China."

Big in China

Stubbles has exhibited at art fairs across the globe and believes it is the only way to get into international markets.

"The Hong Kong art fair led to an interior designer liking my work and introducing me to a client in Guangzhou, China.

From there she was commissioned to make 22 art works for a commercial building in Guangzhou, moving there for six months to work on the assemblages.

Woman works on paintings in a studio
Ms Stubbles was commissioned to make 22 art works for a commercial business in China.(

Supplied: Tanya Stubbles


"It was a really great project [and] exciting creatively because of the 22 art works I created, nine were the biggest art works I'd ever made," she said.

"So, being able to push your art work to those kind of extremes on that scale was very exciting as an artist."

It was hard work and Stubbles had to employ three people to work with her on the project.

Painting that looks like leaves on the ground
In her wood assemblage artworks Ms Stubbles combines painting and sculpture to create dynamic abstract images.(

Supplied: Tanya Stubbles


The clients did not give her a design brief but gave her free creative licence on her designs.

Stubbles just had to work within their size allocations and had to live and work in China for six months so they could document her process.

"I got two double-entry Chinese visas; they weren't work visas, they were cultural exchange visas because I was collaborating with local Chinese people," she said.

Space to create

Stubbles has always had a studio and needs one to house all her found objects and to create her mixed media art works.

Art work made in mosaic-like style
All of the 22 art works Tanya Stubbles made for her Chinese clients were inspired by nature.(

Supplied: Tanya Stubbles


For the past two years she has been working from the Timbermill Studios in Bulli, on the New South Wales south coast.

It is a shared space housing 35 artists, a café, a florist and other small businesses.

"[The space] is sometimes good and sometimes bad because it's distracting," she said.

"The positives are that I can borrow stuff from colleagues and vice versa so there's a collaboration of people helping each other out."

Collection of tools used in making art
Artist Tanya Stubbles's tools of her trade.(

ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss


Work refines post-brain injury

Stubbles knows very well what it is like to need help from other people.

Three years ago, and only about six months before she went to China, she had an accident that left her with a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain.

"I fell down a flight of stairs in Clifton School of Arts," she said.

"I was airlifted to Liverpool Hospital and I died in the helicopter on the way."

Two women stand in front of large art work
One of the 22 finished artworks Stubbles created while in Guangzhou, China.(

Supplied: Tanya Stubbles


In fact Stubbles said she died three times in the week that followed and was in an induced coma for a month waiting for the brain swelling to reduce.

"They also drilled a hole in my skull because that relieves the pressure on the brain when it's swelling," she said.

"The accident was so simple but living in a brain injury unit for six months, you come to realise how simple these accidents can be.

"I met a woman who had tripped in her own living room and hit her head on a table.

Now that she has recovered, Stubbles said she did not feel any differently except she had lost her sense of smell.

"Everyone's concern was that I wasn't going to be able to make art again, but then I went and did this big project in China and made some brilliant art works," she said.

"In fact, I think my work has become more detailed, even more refined post-brain injury."

Stubbles' art works are on display in October at the Illawarra Festival of Wood, the Scarborough Art Show, and The Other Art Fair in Sydney.

Source: ABC

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