Brisbane Artist Creating Opportunities
Michelle Bowden is a dedicated and passionate artist, who is continually creating opportunities for emerging and mid-career artists; she invites like-minded individuals to express themselves through themed exhibitions she curates as well as fundraising exhibitions within her art collective Warrior Women that she founded three years ago.
Find out more about Michelle:
What is your main focus within the "art world" and how do you immerse yourself in this community? ~ My main focus is to create. Within my arts practice I create works of art and could be called a multidisciplinary artist. I use different mediums appropriate to what I wish to express, which has lead me to painting, sculpting, photography and video work.
Part of my creating also involves coordinating art events. This can take up a lot of my energy but it also spurs on my creativity. Being a bit of an extrovert I need the interaction with others to keep my energy up. I belong to many communities and make sure I stay connected by networking with artists, organisations and the public.
'Her Story' is your annual Warrior Women's fundraiser that also coincides with International Women's Day, how has this event grown each year and what do you fundraise for? ~ Warrior Women is a women’s art collective that I instigated back in 2015. Since then over 50 women artists have been involved in one way or another. There are regular exhibitions that showcase the artists but we also fundraise for women’s causes.
Our International Women’s Day art auction is an annual fundraiser. The original art auction raised money for a women’s shelter in Brisbane and more recently we have been rasing money to sponsor a sister in a war torn country. We sponsor a woman for 12 months to go through a program run by 'Women for Women International'. Earlier this year our first sponsored sister graduated and it was time to fundraise for another.
The event is slightly different each year, however this year we also had four musical acts to help bring something extra special to the evening. Spreading the word of the plight of the women we are supporting is an important component of the evening as well as the fundraising. I have found that it has become a gathering of like-minded people that fill the event with beautiful energy. Hopefully we can raise enough money each year to sponsor more women to go through the program that teaches self-sufficiency and provides continuing support.
How can artists get involved with Warrior Women? ~ It’s easy to be involved. You can like our facebook page and when there are call outs get involved in the events. We also have a meet up group that you can join too. Volunteers are always welcome!
Our aim is to showcase talent in our corner of the world. It is mainly women but we have had men in our exhibitions as well. Everyone is welcome as part of the tribe.
How long have you been an artist and what are your big goals for 2018? ~ I’ve been an artist for a very long time – it must be part of my DNA by now! My aim for this year is to continue growing and expanding my network and connecting with more artists and those interested in the arts.
One of my bigger goals for the next couple of years is to grow the Cossag Art Awards that are held each year in the Cathedral of St Stephens in Brisbane's CBD. I have been the chairperson of Cossag (Cathedral of St Stephen Art Group) since 2015. The art awards have been running for 8 years now and grow each year. The art exhibition and awards are now seen as a prestigious prize for many of the established artists of Brisbane. It is a spiritually based art prize and everyone is welcome. There is a finalist exhibition each June within the Cathedral precinct.
You curate monthly exhibitions in the Mezzanine of the Old Butter Factory in Dayboro, how did this opportunity open up for you? ~ The building was lovingly brought back to life a few years ago and now the precinct within it’s boundary includes some amazing and unique businesses.
It was through a discussion of the beauty of the space that art was brought up and curating exhibitions in the space. I was offered the role of curator. I love this role. It’s a bit of a unique model for an art space. We have been holding exhibitions there for 18 months now and the results have been amazing. The light floods into the space making it ideal for showcasing art.
I am always on the look out for artists who are interested in exhibiting here. So anyone interested should definitely get in touch.
What does success mean to you? ~ One of my favourite sayings is “success is a journey not a destination.” Part of that successful journey for me would be having a positive influence on the arts industry through dedicating my time not just to creating work but also about informing others. Art is really about two sides the artist (the creator) and the spectator (the viewer). Bringing those two together in a positive and meaningful way is part of that success. I feel I am achieving this at the moment so I am there in the thick of a successful journey which I hope has no end.
What often runs through your mind when you get that quiet moment to yourself sipping on a coffee or tea? ~ That’s an interesting question as I have my best thoughts when talking with others over a quiet coffee or two. I think about how we are all in this together and there is more success and joy in coming together than being apart.
Having a big family, being an artist, event manager, director, curator and chairperson means I don’t have very many moments on my own but then I am the architect of my own life. Any time to myself is used creating for my next show or completing commissions. So I suppose that’s when the creative juices are flowing - I love being busy!
In your art practice is there a key message or emotion you are expressing? ~ Most of my figurative work centres around issues of the feminine and spirituality. But I also explore other issues of the human condition that we all face. My greatest love is abstract. Through experimentation and using different mediums I hope to impart some of the emotions felt when confronting the mysteries of life to those viewing my art.
What advice would you give your younger self before you started to follow your creative dreams? ~ Don’t stall! Just forge ahead and do it your way without looking back.