Heidi Yardley
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Heidi Yardley

Dame Joan Sutherland Fund recipient, Artist
Origin: Melbourne, Australia
Currently based: Melbourne, Australia
Heidi Yardley is a Melbourne based artist who has exhibited consistently in Australia for more than 10 years. She transforms found and self-created imagery into paintings of familiar yet complicated scenes and portraits. The paintings often play on nostalgia, memory and personal and cultural histories, exploring emotions such as desire and loss. The fragmented narratives within the works become removed from any specific time or place but rely on the viewer’s personal recognition.  Associations and contradictions are at play creating the sense of a memory difficult to recall or the fragmented still of a film.

Yardley completed her Bachelor of Arts in Painting at Monash University in 1995 and went on to complete an Honours degree in Drawing at RMIT in 1999. Shortly after graduating, Yardley gained a residency at Roar Studios and worked there for four years both as an artist and one of four committee members responsible for running the well-known not for profit gallery. Yardley has been selected as a finalist in many significant prizes including The Doug Moran National Portrait Prize, The UQ Art Museum National Artist’s Self-Portrait Prize and The Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship. Her work has been acquired extensively by private collectors both in Australia and overseas and is also held in significant public collections including The University of Queensland Art Museum, The BHP Billiton Collection and The Art Gallery of Ballarat. Yardley is represented by Jan Murphy Gallery in Brisbane.

In 2011 Yardley was recognised as one of 50 of Australia’s most collectable artists, with a feature article in Australian Art Collector Magazine. She also undertook a two-month residency in New York supported by a grant from The Ian Potter Cultural Trust and The Dame Joan Sutherland Fund. 


Who are you as an artist?
I am an Australian artist working predominantly in the fields of painting and drawing.  My work explores ideas of personal and cultural histories, nostalgia and fragmentation through images of the figure, interiors and the natural environment. By working with found imagery I re-contextualise fragments of visual material from the past into new narratives. My current practice involves creating collages as source material for my work. I have exhibited extensively in Australia over the past 15 years.
What prompted you to come to the US?
I was particularly interested in visiting New York City, to experience the latest contemporary art first-hand and to explore the collections of the many museums and galleries. I wanted to forge connections with arts professionals that could lead to opportunities to exhibit internationally in the future.
What did your course/project involve?
I was researching esoteric movements and their representations in popular culture, specifically as identified in the city of New York. My project involved visiting important historical sites and collecting resource material for my paintings. I participated in studio gatherings with two slide presentations of my work. I collected ephemera relating to my research and held an open studio presentation. I visited many museums and galleries and attended openings. I met with other Australian artists and forged new connections with a variety of arts professionals.
What were the highlights of your experience?
There were many highlights including seeing works by my favourite artists, attending openings in Chelsea, and visiting museums including The Met, MOMA, PS1, The Guggenheim and Brooklyn Museum. It was also fascinating to visit historical sites including the Grand Masonic Hall and the New York Public Library. Another highlight was meeting with International artists from a variety of backgrounds and forging new friendships which have continued to the present.
Where did you find inspiration?
I found inspiration everywhere in Brooklyn and Manhattan, at the many galleries and museums. Stand out exhibitions included Michael Borremans at David Zwirner, 'Night scented stock' at Maryanne Boesky Gallery, Yoko Ono at Gallery Lelong and Sophie Calle's exhibition in a hotel room. There was also an extraordinary event called 'Still Spotting', a collaboration between composer Arvo Part and architecture programming at the Guggenheim which was held in a variety of locations around the city. 

What will you take away from this experience?
On a creative level this experience has had an incredible impact on me. I was able to navigate the city and discover a vast array of art and culture of the most exceptional kind. The experience has made me want to return to NYC and to continue to forge connections that will lead to exhibiting there in the future.
What is your favorite piece of work that resulted from this experience?
A painting entitled 'Uncertainty' that is based on an ancient marble sculpture that I photographed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently completing a series of charcoal works on paper based on black and white collages. These will be exhibited in a solo exhibition entitled 'Unfamiliar' in June which will be held at Chalk Horse Gallery in Sydney. 
What is your vision for the future?
I'm planning to return to New York to establish opportunities to exhibit my work. I plan to expand the scale of my drawings and to push my work further after my next exhibition. 
What advice would you give other artists aspiring to come to the US?
Do plenty of research about the location you will be visiting so you don't miss out on events and opportunities. Ask friends and colleagues for any tips on places to visit. Join mailing lists of important galleries and museums in the city or area you plan to visit before you go.
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