JA: The title Airborne Flowerets evokes feelings of lightness and nature. What brought on the choice of title?
CD: Butterflies are like floating flowers; they are absolutely breathtaking and with wings that have a petal flower-like feeling about them. I have always been fascinated by their design which I think is mind-blowing. The whole transformative process may be applied to the pattern of human life, and we may also be inspired to renew our thoughts by observing God’s superb design. The butterfly emerges from an inert chrysalis into an airborne floweret. We may even follow the approach of a butterfly in our times of difficulties and stress. Thinking of butterflies donates sunshine, love, and freedom.
My grandfather’s most recent publication, entitled Between Coincidence and Chance, is filled with inspiration. I think my grandfather is also an architect with words. The book is an inspiration which includes stunning artworks by my brother Damian. There is poem entitled Butterflies from which I derived the title for my exhibition. They float in the air like flowers and my grandfather so beautifully described it. As butterflies are really ‘airborne flowerets’.
JA: Your grandfather is Richard England, one of our country’s major architects, besides being a foremost artist in his own right, as well as a poet, an author and a photographer. Did he bear any weight on your career as an artist?
CD: Yes, my grandfather and his works have been a major influence in my life, I admire his work ethic and ability to focus on multiple projects simultaneously. He set the bar very high and I am in great admiration of his wonderful work. His writing fills my mind with imagery, and it inspires me, it always somehow gets me illustrating. He has been of great encouragement and has always told me, ‘Fly, and never let your wings get wet’.
JA: I believe this is your first solo exhibition. However, there is a particular fingerprint and a certain pop and surrealist component in the paintings. Was the style developed in response to artistic influences or was it a more personal and introspective voyage?
CD: I believe my style developed as a more personal and introspective voyage. I believe my colour palette is highly influenced by the radiance of natural occurrences such as rainbows as well as the zeitgeist of the 1980s. Also, growing up in a family of artists who utilise colour in their art, for example my grandfather’s bold architectural colours, together with Nanna’s love for flowers and her ikebana flower arrangements, contributed as well. I love the belle époque period, Klimt, Mucha and others of that era, as well as Dali’s work.
Thinking of butterflies donates sunshine, love, and freedom
I have also been very influenced by my mother Sandrina’s fashion design and use of gold. My art mentor Michael Sinclair (who is also a writer, sculptor and teacher) describes my work as “very graphic” and he kindly contributed the following text on my works for the exhibition: “The majority of Christina Darmanin’s work is influenced by nature and within the works displayed Darmanin reflects upon the transitional life of butterflies ‒ from a chrysalis to the beauty of its emerged appearance, drawing parallels which could become equally transformative in our lives if we can engage with what truly matters, as to make a positive difference to us as individuals and our society. The very strong graphic nature of the images is the ‘bed’ upon which this communication lies, so the choice of the butterfly image is indeed apposite by the arresting nature of its graphic, profile and colouring.”
Apart from my other already stated influences, there are realms of pop art and surrealist touches.
JA: The dreamy nature of your paintings suggests an escapism of sorts, a beautifying of the human that maybe relates to current, unsavoury global circumstances. Am I off the mark?
CD: No, you are very much on the mark. I aspire to share the messages I receive from nature and the inspiration of being ‘in the spirit’ as I am always in admiration of God’s handiwork and His Word. There is an element of escapism and a beautifying of the human in my paintings, but the escapism is not a way to deter from the reality of things, but rather to redirect the focus on a more positive mindset in order to restore, elevate and inspire the current dystopian world. In my work, I attempt to plant seeds which by faith will eventually mature into a garden of beauty and for others to enter and relish.
I firmly believe that art enriches life. I believe in the transformative power of art. A force that can restore, elevate and inspire others for positive change, growth and development. I also think that ‘art is life’ and each and every one of us has an inner artist butterfly, what you bring to this world, no one else can. Taking calculated risks to follow your heart is also very important, it is not easy but with faith, courage and hard work, you can achieve your goals.
I wish to say thank you to all the members of my family, all the sponsors and people involved for their amazing help, support and contributions in various different ways.
Airborne Flowerets is on at art..e Gallery of 1, Library Street, Victoria, until September 30. Visit the venue’s Facebook page for more information.