Scenes from the South is a glimpse into my journey through the landscapes of southern Italy and France. Before I left Brisbane to embark on this trip I studied old photographs from my parents' own trips to Europe, to see what they chose to document and value as a memory all those years ago. These aged photos, tinted with hues of orange and pink, showed grainy snapshots of landscapes, fruit stalls and shopfronts.
When I landed in Catania, Sicily I was overcome with excitement and emotion that continued as we drove past the villages nestled in the hills of Mt Etna, covered in olive groves and vineyards. I chose to begin my journey here to visit the towns my grandparents left in a time of extreme hardship to immigrate to Australia. My first stop was Nonna's village, Castiglione di Sicilia where I walked the steep path leading to the castle at the top to see the sun beaming down into the valley. The plants and trees reminded me of the garden my Nonna and Nonno carefully duplicated in their own home in Australia. I spent the day in this half deserted village and tried to imagine what it must have been like before many of the residents emigrated. Although it was quiet, the colourful buildings and streets lined with greenery evoked a sense of nostalgia. From there I travelled to my Nonno’s village, the nearby town of Passopisciaro with similarly brightly coloured buildings contrasted against the purple and black rock of old lava flows from Mt Etna. In Sicily, each day I was presented with familiar elements of this region that my family had surrounded themselves with in Australia. I continued to travel Italy collecting sketches and studies from each place I visited.
After my experience in Italy I visited the South of France spending the last weeks of my trip exploring its villages. Travelling from Nice to Carcassone I stopped in towns along the way exploring the region where I had longed to retrace the steps of some of my favourite artists. Here I saw the landscapes that inspired them and the studios where they finished these works. Scenes from the South is my diary of some of the places that captivated me and I will continue to reflect on them until my next visit. Like the orange and pink discoloured photos I discovered from my parents travels, with these works I have tried to capture a sense of the allure and warmth these places hold.
For Julia Sirianni, painting is more than a pastime – it is a way of finding calm in a world that causes anxiety. Location is everything. Each painting is the result of hours of research, scouring landscapes for the perfect space in which to immerse herself. Trained formally in Fine Art, Sirianni gravitated towards plein air painting when she discovered its intuitive, fast nature suited her own drive and boosted the confidence with which she viewed her practice. Soothed by her surroundings, Siranni’s attention shifts to atmosphere, and using light and colour to evoke the elements in front of her.
Lately, Sirianni has sought places of calm in the inner city, a result of the restrictions the world is currently living under. Able only to take photos or complete a few short sketches, her new body of work has been completed in the studio, leading to more detail, and focus on the manmade – though she continues to push herself to complete the works quickly, while her senses retain the memory of the place she has been. These works highlight the odd beauty of human traces, and the will of nature to regrow and repair.
Julia Sirianni completed her Bachelor of Visual Art at the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, in 2015. Winner of the Macquarie Group Emerging Art Prize People’s Choice Award, Sydney (2019), she was a finalist in the Rotary Art Spectacular (2019), the Morris Art Prize (2018), Nundah Art Show (2017) and the Brisbane Art Prize (2016).
Carrie McCarthy 2020
Queensland University of Technology, Master of Teaching (Secondary) (Visual Art & FTV)
The Ravenswood Australian Women's Art Prize is an annual acquisitive prize that was launched in 2017 to advance art and opportunity for emerging and established women artists in Australia. It is the highest value professional artist prize for women in Australia.
There are three prize categories – the Professional Artist Prize of $35,000, the Emerging Artist Prize of $5,000 and the Indigenous Emerging Artist Prize of $5,000.
Congratulations to Julia Sirianni for being a finalist in the Emerging Artist category for 2020.
Title: A Place to Hide Medium: Oil on board Size: 60 x 60 cm