February 5 - 11, 2017: Issue 299
Meredith Rasdall is an artist living on Scotland Island on Sydney's Northern Beaches. She has been exhibiting for over 25 years and her work is included in both local and overseas collections.
Meredith studied Art Education at Alexander Mackie College of Advanced Education (1980-1984) in Paddington and has taught in high schools and primary schools throughout Sydney. Teaching is a passion for Meredith and ten years ago she created Meredith Rasdall Visual Art - private art school which caters for adults, high school students and children.
Meredith founded and coordinated the Pittwater Artfest, a highly successful bi-annual children's art festival (1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012) where children can exhibit their work and work directly with artists.
In 2012 and 2013 Meredith gave an Encouragement Award for students as part of the Royal Motor Yacht Club's annual Marine Art Exhibition.
One of the founders of ArtSpot , the 2013 and then again in the ArtSpot 2015 was another very successful event showcasing others works with Meredith working as part of the team of Jacqui Giuliano, Michele Petrie, Cindy Goode Milman, Nada Herman and Jessica Watts to coordinate a visual delight for the community and allow them to gain access in one room to original works they could acquire for their own rooms.
In 2016 Megan Treharne, Arts and Cultural Officer at the former Pittwater Council and Fresh Art Curator, knew Meredith was the lady to talk to about putting together a brilliant Exhibition of our local HSC students work which not only gave the community an insight into all that's great about the next generation of Artists, it also afforded the students a chance to get some feedback and appreciation of their work - a great event.
Artist and Teacher Meredith Rasdall with Megan Treharne, Arts and Cultural Officer at Pittwater Council and Fresh Art Curator - January 2016
In fact, Meredith has given so much to so many for so long she was one of the featured Volunteers painted by fellow Pittwater Artists Stephanie Galloway Brown as part of Steph's Extraordinary Faces: Volunteers - A portrait art project by Stephanie Galloway Brown about everyday people who gift their services to our communities and achieve the extraordinary.
Katherine Roberts, Senior Curator at Manly Art Gallery & Museum, said of Meredith in 2015:
Meredith, for example, works so hard and has for many years promoting importance and value of the arts – especially founding Pittwater Artsfest – every time there’s a free event going on for children, a workshop engaging them with art – there’s Meredith – and there she’s been for decades – an amazing example of going above and beyond.
Meredith .... has been a trailblazer, even with getting the wet room arts space upstairs at Avalon Recreation Centre.
Pittwater is enriched by a dearth of talented Artists, many of whom seek to share their work and skills - empowering the next generation, or any generation for that matter, to find their voice, to express themselves, is not something everyone can do so it sticks, so the person trying something else gains confidence to have a go and keep on going.
Meredith is an experienced artist art educator and festival co-ordinator though. With over 30 years teaching experience in the visual arts she is passionate about developing artists of all ages. Meredith is regularly employed by the department of education to inservice staff and design programs.
Meredith's own works are in local and overseas collections, including Manly Art Gallery & Museum.
One of our favourites of all Artists works of all time is her 'Flying Daughter'; it's dreamlike, whimsical, speaks of space and a consciousness of a loved one that goes beyond words, perhaps beyond sleep too, but mostly speaks of love. There's just something very wonderful about it - something that doesn't go away.
Flying daughter 1 - handcoloured collograph
A few more of her wonderful works can be seen as the featured Artist of the Month for February 2017. This week a small insight into another Pittwater treasure whose gifts to all cannot be measured so easily:
Where did you grow up, what did you do for fun when younger?
In Killara. I was always drawing a lot. We did muck around a bit having fun on the Lane Cove River hanging around on the swings and Tarzan ropes.
So you have always been doing some form of Art?
Always, I wanted to be an Art Teacher from when I was about 8.
Did you have a relative who was an Artist?
No, not at all. I don’t know where it came from at all. My father was a bit creative, he liked to draw boats but he was an Accountant, so perhaps he was a frustrated creative person. Both my sister and I were very creative so it was latent I think.
Who are your influences or favourite Artists?
I’ve always loved Kerry Lester. Joshua Yeldham is a favourite of mine at the moment, he’s just amazing.
Who were your favourites when you first began?
Margaret Preston and Margaret Ollie – those Still Life’s were among my first ones.
You begin the Pittwater Artfest for children – why did you do this?
The first one was in 1998. I started this because my children started school and Art was not valued at all in Primary schools. The only way I thought I could change that was to have a high profile event that would in turn raise the profile of Visual Arts for young children.
In our local area children who are good at Sports get trophies and are acknowledged at assemblies, whereas children who are good at Art get nothing.
I wanted to give the children who were good at Art something where they could shine.
The Artfest doesn’t happen anymore but all of the schools now give Art awards so I feel like we’ve achieved something for the young artists and that Art is valued now – it’s in the school annual reports, it’s a valued part of the curriculum.
The PCA (Pittwater Artists Community) have now donated, even though that has now closed, with the leftover money available when they disbanded now sponsor an Art award in every Primary school in Pittwater.
You’re currently, and still, teaching Mixed Media?
Yes, my background is as a High School Art Teacher. I taught in High school for ten years and then had my children. I began teaching privately once they were a little bigger.
Mixed Media is a bit of everything; drawing, painting, print-making, collage.
I now work as a art consultant to primary schools running special programs and inservices for teachers.
Are you still doing one on one tutoring?
Yes, I do this for HSC Students who are working on a body of work.
Have any of your students Exhibited in the annual Express Yourself event that occurs through Manly Art Gallery?
I do. One of my students has been picked for the upcoming exhibition – Ben Kusturin.
Another student, Cait Halstead, was selected for Art Express, which is a big one that occurs through the NSW Department of Education and the Art Gallery of NSW each year.
All of my students received a band 6 in visual art in 2016.
Your daughter Gemma is doing really well as an Artist too, exhibiting in Avalon Recreation Centre in January this year – how did that go?
She’s much more talented then her mother, she’s very clever and very driven. That last exhibition was successful for her; people want her work and lots of pieces went.
Gemma has gone back to work of course – her holiday was running the Exhibition. Gemma trained as a Textile Designer and works for a company in Alexandria where she designs fabrics and laces, so that’s her job, and she does the painting as a sideline.
The Art Classes staring at Avalon Sailing Club on February 14th, who are these for?
These are for adults and this will be a mixture of Beginners and Experienced people. When people come I encourage them to explore with a whole lot of different materials. What I do which may be different to other teachers and which may be because of my High School Teaching background, is I focus on developing people’s individual styles so they find their own style rather than just copying me. A lot of Artists may teach people just how they work rather then encouraging people to find their own style, their own voice.
I had one student who went on to be picked for the Dobell Drawing Prize and a lot of my students go on to be practicing Artists so that affirms to me that I’m good at encouraging people in a way that helps them to do what they want to do and produce work.
What is it that makes a good Artist - constantly experimenting and exploring new approaches...?
Artists are never comfortable with their work - no matter how good it is and no matter how successful they are, everyone is very hard on themselves. But I think it’s passion and being able to create, to push yourself outside your comfort zone now and then that contributes to being an Artist. Often you find your best work comes out of mistakes or accidents.
What are your favourite places in Pittwater and why?
I’d have to say Scotland Island because we live there, and it’s just beautiful.
Morning Bay would probably be my favourite place – absolutely gorgeous.
In fact anywhere over on Western Pittwater is fantastic.
I would also include Clareville and our little beach at Taylor’s Point, that’s pretty special to us, it’s where my kids grew up.
What is your ‘motto for life’ or a favourite phrase you try to live by?
Art is about looking and seeing around you – so find/ing beauty in the every day
If you wish to be inspired and empowered by one of our best Meredith begins her classes for adults on Valentines Day - at Avalon Sailing Club - where we've also found Meredith on occasion as mum to children who love being on the water.
Australia Day 2013 - then Avalon Sailing Club Cmdr. Richard Rasdall with wife Meredith Rasdall