Artist finds inspiration in Venice

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by Greta Yeoman

Timaru artist Judith Cordeaux has recently returned from a month-long arts residency in Venice.

She was one of 11 artists selected for the residency, held from early April to early May, where they all lived independently but met up often for guided tours led by artist John Rawlings, of Art&Soul International, Ms Cordeaux said.

“Everything is patched up a million times over, but somehow this adds to the beauty of this old lady, Venice.”

“He had his own creative mind,” she said of his selection of artistic sites.

The group would travel either by foot or vaporetto (water taxi) to popular tourist spots and other less-seen places around the tourist town.

However, while many sought inspiration in the grand patterns on show in historical churches and other buildings, it was her day-to-day life living in a working-class area of the Italian town that inspired her work.

She said she relished watching people go about their lives along the walkways and past buildings that had been “patched up” for centuries and were often also covered in graffiti.

“Everything is patched up a million times over, but somehow this adds to the beauty of this old lady, Venice.”

While some would see graffiti as a “scourge”, some of it – including hearts and kisses, and comments such as “Buon giorno, bell’anima” (good morning, beautiful soul) – inspired her to create a range of small paintings using found materials, including egg cartons and other packaging items.

Inspiration . . . Timaru artist Judith Cordeaux (third from left) joined other artists from the Art&Soul Residency for a tour of the Guggenheim Museum in Venice. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

“[There was] lots of love there.”

These had fit in her suitcase, enabling her to bring them home to influence larger pieces she was now working on.

“They’re wonderful . . . I’m very pleased.”

One of her new pieces is made from a large piece of card she found at the dump once she arrived back in Timaru in early May.

“[It is] so big I can just get it through the door.”

Soon after returning to Timaru, Ms Cordeaux was notified that she had been awarded an International Prize Artist of the Year 2019 by Rome-based artistic brothers Salvatore and Dr Francesco Russo.

“It’s just encouraging . . . that it’s OK to be different and individual.”

Her work had been shown in Russo art publications before this award, and they originally found her work through her website, she said.

The award is presented to “a small number of artists who have distinguished themselves in the current year”, she said.

She said both the award and the residency had been encouraging for her work.

“[I’m] really delighted.

“It’s just encouraging . . . that it’s OK to be different and individual.”

She added it was “quite great” that opportunity and inspiration did not “disappear with age”.

“The mind’s always working.”