Interview With Taylor Conacher

Taylor Conacher’s art strikes a balance between delicate and wild, juxtaposing the precise with the uncontrollable. Exploring the universes that exist inside each person, she creates emotionally powerful works that resonate intensely with viewers. Here, she speaks to Art Pharmacy about the stories behind her works, the architectural inspiration for her art, and her exiting new sculptural projects.

Taylor, could you start by talking about the very first piece of art that you can remember creating?
I would have been – I don’t know how old I was, maybe three or four, and I drew cherubs a lot. Like little baby angels.

Mum really got us going with the creative aspects. We’re a pretty creative family – mum’s a primary school teacher, so she does a lot of art with her kids at school. My brother is a graphic designer for Channel Seven, and my other brother is a carpenter. So everyone takes their creativity into different avenues.

You’re currently studying architecture at the University of Technology in Sydney. How does this influence your artistic practice?
I think it’s very obvious in my drawings that I’ve got a precise eye for detail. I think my artwork really reflects my interest and my training in architecture, with the simplicity of the lines.

In some subjects at university we do sketching, but I struggle a lot with the computer aspects. I’m at UTS, so there’s a massive focus on software. I usually go back and use a pen and paper to draw out my ideas. I also do architectural illustration, just to get a break from the computer aspects.

What sort of materials do you work with?
Predominantly drawing, so mechanical pencil and charcoal on watercolour paper. That’s my go-to. I’m at a point where I’m experimenting a lot with different materials that I haven’t used before. I’ve started playing around with oil paints and other things that I haven’t been taught how to use, just mucking about to see what will happen. You have the preciseness of the drawing, and then you add some ink or paint, and you don’t know what it’s going to do. It has a mind of its own!

The last series I did for Art Pharmacy was a series of girls with ink bodies. So I did the drawing aspect first and then added the ink to it, and I didn’t know what shape it was going to make. The ink creates a galaxy effect.

Is that what inspired your ‘Female Cosmology’ series?
That was a fun one actually, because I put the water down and would apply ink in a straight line, and keep adding ink and then water, and see what shapes it would make. Then I went back and added a white gel pen, to make the stars.

It’s about our inner worlds, and that every person is their own universe and have so much depth to them. Females in particular. I connect so much with the idea of females in power of themselves, especially in this day and age. It’s about the nurturing of the female spirit.

I looked at some of your portraits. They look so introspective and intimate – is that about them exploring their own inner spirit?
Yeah, definitely. I just find people so interesting. It reminds me that everyone has an inner world that’s your own. It’s a really comforting thing – that everyone’s going through the same examination of themselves. Sometimes you forget that because you get too caught up in your own world. I really like that idea and I try to remind myself of it through my art.

You have some works with names like ‘Aleah’ and ‘Gigi’. Are these the names of the people you’ve drawn, or are they characters that you create?
They’re made up. I give my characters a story, and that makes me feel connected to what I’m creating.  I get very protective of them as well.

‘Aleah’ for example, is about a girl who wants to be confident and vulnerable at the same time, struggling with projecting herself.

I think they’re very self-reflective as well. I do explore myself in my works, but unintentionally. That’s not something that I seek out to do – like, “I’m going to figure out myself through this work”. It just happens.

One of my favourite works of yours is ‘Phases’. What is the significance of your use of cosmic motifs?
Basically I’m just obsessed with the universe! I’ve been watching a lot of space documentaries lately. I’m going through ‘The Cosmos’, an eleven-part series. They compressed the whole universe into a calendar, starting with the Big Bang. And modern-day existence and humanity is compressed into the last day of the last month, and it was just bewildering to think that we’re only this tiny sixty-second part of the universe.

What are you working on at the moment?
I’m bursting with ideas for a new body of work. I really want to start working more in the sculptural form. I’ve started working with crystal shapes. So I make the mould of the crystal and pour Ultracalc into it, which is a concrete mixture we use at uni to make models from. It creates a crystal in concrete form.

So I want to try and make objects, like crystals, mountains and moons – things that I usually draw – in three-dimensional form. Then I want to dissect them. I want to create a body of work dissecting these sculptures and dissecting natural landforms. What would you find if you were to cut the moon in half, or a mountain in half? What would I want to be inside those? I want to draw those and map them, and take a lot more from what I’ve done at uni in my architecture and translate that into art.

You can see more of Taylor’s work on her profile page here.

Words: Ellen Oredsson