Gabrielle Savrone is a resident artist at Windsor Studios In Melbourne and the owner and operator of The Owl and the Pussycat Theatre and Gallery in Richmond VIC. As a little girl Gabrielle would paint anything she could get her hands on, from old pictures discarded to the backs of cardboard boxes, small tables and chairs and even cutlery. Gabrielle studies Visual and Performance Art at Deakin university and absolutely loves custom making pieces for her clients. As well as doing her own Art installations, performance art and painting collections to inspire thought and provoke change.
What inspired you to first start creating works of art, and expressing yourself through art?
I have been doing so ever since I can remember, but my Aunty took me to galleries which fueled the fire, and my mother always allowed me to use her furniture, the walls and anything I could get my hands on to create, without any fear of getting in trouble.
Your recent exhibition featured work about moments in your life were you were uncomfortable or told no simply because you are female. Can you give us some examples or expand on this notion?
As a little girl I has three brothers, I was often told I couldn’t play or do things because I was a girl, or wasn’t a boy. This started the irritation i suppose at how unfair a situation it is for one person to be excluded based on something they have no control over. As a young adult this expanded into a broader understanding across all discrimination and prejudices. We lived in the Philippines for a few years as kids and my father is an active feminist so all of these factors combined have led to me really noticing the ingrained attitudes people hold. For example an old employer told me I have received the biggest pay rise in the company because ‘you’ve got big boobs’. He then laughed with the whole office and I watched other women pretending to laugh along and then say how inappropriate it was once he left the room. Another small thing is when people say ‘stop being such a girl’ very similar to ‘that’s gay’ using a group of people as a negative term. I hoped with this exhibition to shine a light on these small moments and help people see them for what they are and not make excuses for them.
As an artist, I imagine there is a very blurry line between ‘work’ time and ‘free’ time or relaxation time. How do you define these, and do you have a set space or time to create in?
No set time, and yes often it feels like I am a work aholic, You almost have to be in this culture to be able to make it a fee sable job though. Unfortunately the arts don’t get the same appreciation as say finance. Even though all people use them and admire them regularly weather they notice or not. This is actually something I have been struggling with a lot. My husband and I are recently separated largely due to this. As I find a lot of my ‘spare time’ around money making is used to make my art. And its not yet at a point where I can replace one with the other. I think it takes a certain level of courage to let go and believe you can do it full time. I will be doing that as of January when i take over the theatre and gallery space i am buying, however up until now this has been the ultimate struggle. I got a job for example recently where they needed 40 paintings by a certain date, and because jobs are sporadic I couldn’t drop everything else so i was in the studio nightly until 4 am to complete said task.
Also the inspiration hits at different times, and you don’t want to stop when your on a roll and enjoying the results. So i think overall its random, and that’s the way it has to be, but it also is a competitive industry so like any job those who work more, receive more and I find this work very fulfilling as it helps people on so many levels, a) with a beautiful space to feel good in b) to challenge thinking.
Who do you admire? or Who inspires you to create?
It changes, I had a job with Cosentino for a while and his passion, fearlessness and work ethic inspired me greatly. I also was inspired by Mauro Palmieri a fellow artists at my studio and old friend. I am constantly inspired by my parents, my husband, my friends. It changes regularly. Something that never changes though is light. I am constantly amazed by the way light and sun hits buildings or water or trees. When i went to France on an art tour i found it funny that Van Gogh and Cezzane were also obsessed with light. It must be a hard wiring in our brains. My main inspiration t hough and the one thing that keeps me going is this… when someone looks at a piece that is well executed and inventive even interactive, they can remember it forever and be moved to change their thinking on a certain topic forever. To have the power to help people see things through someone else’s eyes or in a different light in a few seconds is something that excites me.
To speak to a room of people and explain a topic can take hours, but to create an installation that shows a child’s pain in war for example can move someone to fight the cause for the rest of their life. I love hearing stories of when art changed people to action. I did a petition piece where strangers on the street were signing this live face book installation status thing, they were committing to being kind and I couldn’t help but cry with pride as i imagined at least some of them going and doing that because I bothered to create this fun world that they wanted to be part of. There is a group called ‘soul pancake’ youtube them if you haven’t already, they inspire me to no end. My university lecturers, and creative partner in theatre Thomas Ian Doyle too. Most recently fellow artist and friend, Bonita Mabo has inspired me greatly and I hope to create with her in the near future.