Having been drawn to art as a child, Belinda Street never stopped experimenting with her creativity. Confessing to always having a pencil handy, she went on to study a Bachelor of Arts, completed her Fine Arts honours at the College of Fine Arts (UNSW), and was awarded a full scholarship to the Julian Ashton School of Art. As an artist who has been exhibiting for close to twenty years, Street says she’s seen the industry change over time.
When she was starting out in the 90’s and early 00’s she recalls the commonality for artists to hide second jobs or motherhood, for fear of not being taken seriously. Fast forward twenty years, and it’s not unusual to see photos of artists with their families and small children in the studio as they work. Although gains have been made, gender parity is still a contentious issue in the industry. As I touched on with artist Lottie Consalvo in a previous article, being taken seriously as a contemporary female artist still has a long way to go. Gender parity and the gender pay gap are both persistent issues in the arts in Australia. Street highlights that these are not the only issues relevant to career setbacks. Referring to an article in March/ April 2023 Art Guide Australia, she applauds author Sophia Cai for calling out Cronyism in the arts and how cliques, which have created an exclusively closed loop of opportunities, have left little room for new voices.
Constant challenges of the industry have never stopped Street from doing what she loves. Like most artists across myriad disciplines, a constant need to create is ultimately what drives her. But, for her, art making is also an escape from the compounding responsibilities and pressures of ‘real life’. Finding painting more challenging than drawing, it wasn’t until she backpacked through Europe after completing university that she fell in love with the landscape and was inspired to paint more seriously. Labelling her style ‘Abstract Impressionist Landscape Painter’, Street’s ability doesn’t end there. Her past forays into figurative and portraiture have been technically, very successful, and it’s no surprise considering her education and commitment to her craft.
As an artist who is interested in the landscape as a remembered feeling, her approach is a poetic and largely romanticised view of her subject. In many ways she’s treading a path similar to the Romantic painters of the late 18th and mid 19th century, who emphasised emotion and idealised the sublime found in nature. She highlights the awe, loneliness and isolation of places such as Kosciuszko. Inspired by the shifting and unstable forms of alpine areas, she recalls the sensory feeling of visiting an ‘old friend’.
For an expressive, mark-making painter the textural qualities are particularly inspiring. It’s an infinitely changing landscape with four distinct seasons– shifting and unstable. The light, colours and forms all change quite dramatically throughout the seasons making it endlessly captivating.
For Street, the features of the alpine areas, especially Kosciuszko echo the instability and fluctuations of life. Her work is dynamic, gestural, and hums with the vibrations of nature. Each work contains a build-up of layered paint that echo her efforts to amalgamate perception, emotion and memory. This creates an emotional imprint of her memory onto the canvas. She does this to remember herself within the alpine environment where she feels compelled to paint her landscapes. This is ultimately what informs her practice and her representation of place.
Street is one of those artists who, no matter what the industry, market or world is experiencing, she will be compelled to keep creating – to keep finding her place within nature and her place in the ever-changing arts scene.
Belinda Street has an upcoming exhibition with Curatorial+Co. in Sydney, from July 17 – 29, 2023.
Written by Joey Hespe for Oh Yes Her