In Conversation With: Martha Ackroyd Curtis

With confidence and humour, Martha Ackroyd Curtis’ photographs capture the drama of life.

How would you describe your work to someone who hasn’t seen your art? 

My art is often quite visually theatrical, especially if it is an installation. I want to create an opera scene for my audience to walk into.

When and how did you first fall in love with art? 

Art came very early to me, perhaps a bit annoyingly to my family at times, but they have encouraged me throughout. I think clay came first when I was age seven, I was creating quite realistic clay sculptures. I once trimmed a garden plant in a rather abstract jagged way. It was supposed to be a square hedge (that was the request from my parents) but looked more like an escalator when I had finished with it. 

Where are you based? 

In inner Melbourne – my suburb is a melting pot of culture, art, food and people from all over the globe. Recently focussing on my photographic practice, I’ve been hitting the pavement, capturing moments that will be selected and built into a show. My home studio has one computer area for video art creation and administration, I call it the dry area. The sexy wet area is for painting, sculpting and messing around. 

How long have you been practicing as an artist? 

I studied Fine Arts at The Victorian College of the Arts, an amazing time for me. I have been practicing throughout the last decade, with short bursts of travel but when overseas I seem to always find something that propels creative thought – my mind never really rests. 

When do you feel your most creative? 

A show will come together with a concept or an idea for some paintings/photographs and it builds from there. I do not like to sit, I will go for walks, I get ideas when I am doing something totally unrelated like staring at a billboard or a witty graffiti slogan. I am an observer. I will head back to the studio and begin, jotting down the ideas. 

Where do you find inspiration? 

I keep up to date with world affairs, from the trash to politics. As an artist, I often feel obligated to document, satirise, and keep democracy in motion. 

What materials do you use and why? 

A camera, because it is immediate. A paintbrush, because it is a weapon of peace. Clay, because it is the earth and I am into tactile movement with my limbs. 

Pick three people you would invite to dinner. 

Lee Krasner – I would give her, her time, she gave up too much for Pollock; Leigh Bowery – he left us way too early; and Sylvester – his music is timeless.

Artworks for sale by Martha Ackroyd Curtis

More In Conversation With features from issue #32

In Conversation with: David Beaumont

In the studio before the sun has risen, David Beaumont imbues his work with considered stillness.

In Conversation with: Jorna Newberry

A Pitjantjatjara woman born at Angus Downs, 300 kilometres south-west of Alice Springs, Jorna Newberry paints the beauty and mystery of her Country.

In Conversation with:Martha Ackroyd Curtis

With confidence and humour, Martha Ackroyd Curtis’ photographs capture the drama of life.

In Conversation with: Audrey Kearns

Audrey Kearns uses texture and organic shape to give everyday household objects a life beyond the ordinary.

In Conversation with: Tan Arlidge

Playful yet refined, the works of Tan Arlidge are moments caught in time.

In Conversation with: Woochang Kim

Sydney-based ceramicist Woochang Kim endeavours to capture human emotion and expression.