When it comes to art, Maudie Brady is a true Renaissance woman. Mastering the fields of both two-dimensional and three-dimensional design, from drawings to sculpture, Brady has also enjoyed an acclaimed career within the field of sculpture and prop design for television and film. Recently, though, Brady has returned to her roots, channeling the rigorous technique of the Academic tradition in works that showcase her immense finesse as an artist. Brady kindly participated in this latest installment of the Contemporary Charcoals series, offering us some of her artistic inspirations and ruminations. For more on Brady's work, please visit her website.
Nitram Charcoal (NC): What is the last art show that you saw? What did you take from it?
Maudie Brady (MB): The last show I saw was the Adolfo Wildt retrospective at Gallery of Modern Art in Milan. In this exhibition I was impressed by Wildt’s progression from realism into a unique and almost surreal style. It showed what is possible when one is not afraid to experiment and push the realist boundaries without losing a sense of craft and historical symbolism.
NC: What is your favorite collection to visit? What collection/museum in on your visit wish list?
MB: I have two favorites. The first is the Rodin Museum in Paris; the second is the Bode Museum Berlin. Top on my "museum bucket list": the Museo del Prado in Madrid.
NC: In your opinion, what sets charcoal apart from other artistic media?
MB: Flexibility, which is ironic considering its nature: a burnt piece of timber.
NC: Do you collect art? Whose works hang on your walls?
NC: If you could buy any one work of art, what would it be, and why?
MB: Tough question! I think it would be between Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux’s Ugolino and His Sons, a fantastic marble sculpture currently in the Metropolitan's collection, and the copy of the Laocoön created by Baccio Bandinelli in the 16th century (and now in the Uffizi). I love both of these works for their anatomical and technical craftsmanship as well as their timeless capacity to inspire emotion. But then I wouldn’t want to move house ever again!!!
NC: Tell us a bit about your background. What do you consider your greatest artistic accomplishment?
MB: After graduating from art school in the late 90’s I proceeded to work for the next decade as a prop sculptor in the film and television industry where I acquired a lot of technical skills. Returning to study figurative sculpture in an academic context, however, has given me an appreciation for fine craftsmanship and the opportunity to learn about another set of skills that only time and dedication to the craft can bring. So far I consider my greatest artistic accomplishment to be the portrait I sculpted of Geoffrey Rush, one of Australia’s living iconic actors. It was an absolute honour to spend the four sessions it took to complete in his company, and I was grateful for the opportunity to produce a portrait both he and his family appreciated enough to commission in bronze for their private collection.
NC: What do you define as "being creative"? How to seek that creativity in your work?
MB: For me being creative means constantly enquiring into the nature of things - making time to research things properly, to discover the nature of things as revealed over time. You need to allow and make space for daydream/play time in which these enquiries can form into a visual language or methodology. This may mean going for a walk, sketching people on the train, or even writing a visual diary. Seeking creativity in everyday process is about recontextualising things so they can be seen as reflections of larger, over-arching enquiries.
NC: Outside of charcoal, what is a medium with which you'd like to experiment?
MB: Watercolour: the subtle and intuitive appearance of the medium belies the technical difficulty involved in achieving that appearance.