ELIZABETH BRAID’S WATERCOLOUR WORKS DRAW US INTO A WORLD OF FLUX AND FLUIDITY. CHARLOTTE MIDDLETON WRITES.
Elizabeth Braid’s artistic practice is an intensely sensorial and personal affair, inspired by music, physical sensations and the elements, and cherished as a means of documenting innermost impressions. “I first really fell in love with creating when I was 18,” she remembers. Having just left boarding school in India, she was on the cusp of adulthood, deciding on a future. “I kept a tiny art journal and drew my inner world. This is when it became dear to me, as a private form of expression.”
Growing up between India and the northwest coast of Tasmania cultivated in Elizabeth a keen observation of culture and the elements that make up the atmosphere of a place. The artist recently graduated from the University of Tasmania with a Bachelor of Fine Art, and watercolour is her medium of choice for recreating a sense of atmosphere.
Layer upon layer of soft, hazy washes provide her with the depth and space to play, and she delights in the immediacy and unforgiving nature of watercolour.
Before she begins, a playlist with predominantly feminine tones sets the mood. “Current favourites are Emily Wurramara, the Life of Pi soundtrack – (those flute solos!) and Angie McMahon.” With this background, she is primed to fulfil her aim of creating works that are evocative; “that sweep you up in a feeling”. With their strong sense of movement and direction, her works act, in her words, as “liquid landscapes”. The human figures that often populate the surfaces of her works bear a resemblance to schools of fish, each occupying its own necessary and autonomous position within a broader whimsical web of interdependence, and all carried along by watercolour currents.
Outside of the studio, it is the experiences of everyday moments of pleasure, and the sensations of the elements that provide creative nourishment. “I feel my most creative when something reminds me of my ephemeral and beautiful existence,” she says. “Basking in the sun – feeling the warmth prickle my skin, a brisk swim in Bass Strait, reading a book on a picnic blanket under a tree in the orchard, my bare feet on the grass, a good line of poetry, a curious chat or a lovely movie.”
The deep focus demanded by watercolour, balanced with a sense of lightness and play, helps Elizabeth create works with the capacity to both enthrall and remind us of the simple pleasures of the here and now.
Featured image: Elizabeth Braid, Between You and Me. Watercolour on paper, 60 x 76cm. Courtesy: the artist.