THE ART OF CORSAGE & MASKING
An exhibition by Miss Martha (Maya)
Featuring Naomi Matthews
St Heliers Street Gallery
Opens 3pm Sunday 4th February
Closes 25th February
INTERVIEW WITH MISS MARTHA
Jonathan: Hello Miss Martha, I’m really looking forward to your upcoming art Exhibition "The Art of Corsage and Masking," What can you tell me about it?
Miss Martha: Absolutely. I’ve been painting for the last few years with my Art Therapist Robyn deVries. I have now painted a huge amount of artworks and very excited to show them to the public. As a person with Autism I believe it's important to share diverse stories, including those of people with disabilities. Often, these stories don't get enough attention and am excited that people will be able to see mine.
Jonathan: Your journey into the world of art is quite unique. Can you share more about how art became an expressive outlet for you, especially given your experiences with leaving school early?
Miss Martha: Art became my way of self-expression and acceptance when traditional education paths weren't suitable for me. It allowed me to communicate my feelings and identity struggles when words fell short. It still helps me communicate and it’s interesting to look back at my paintings to see how i was feeling at the time.
Jonathan: Your passion for clothing, fashion, and vintage 1940s era is evident in your art. How did this fascination develop, and how does it influence your art?
Miss Martha: As a young girl I had a close relationship with my grandmother and I spent a lot of time with her. Her suburban mid century home felt like i was in a time capsule in another period of time. I spent large durations of my early years of my life there and became fascinated with her wardrobe and photographs. This sparked my obsession with vintage clothing and old hollywood movies. I just love the romance of the time and love to paint my idea of the characters in the films I used to watch at the Astor.
Jonathan: There is a lot of references to make up and gloves in your art. What is the significance of them?
Miss Martha: Makeup serves as a therapeutic process for me, transporting me into a creative zone. It's not just a mask but a form of self-identification. Sometimes before a special occasion I take over two hours to do my full make up. The process helps me tackle the day with confidence and purpose. I like to add make-up to my character in my art because it is a reflection on my love for make up and make up artists. I guess, the gloves and masks in my work symbolise issues surrounding mental health, self-identity, masking and social awkwardness. They invite viewers to step into the mind of an autistic person, especially one who was non-verbal until their teenage years.
Jonathan: It's exciting that your mother is also presenting her work during the exhibition. How does working with your mum influence your creative process?
Miss Martha: Working with my mum is a collaborative process where we bounce off each other's ideas and visions. Our work often revolves around gender and sexuality conformity. For instance, the corsage pieces explore female bodies, touching on issues like ageism and societal expectations for women. I’m really excited to be showcasing my art along side mum.
Jonathan: Your exhibition has been years in the making. Can you share some insights into the emotions and ideas behind the artworks?
Miss Martha: This exhibition has been a whirlpool of emotions and ideas developed over years. Working closely with Robyn, we've created a body of work that explores various themes. Now, the challenge is to select a few paintings from the countless ones we've created. I’m very proud with what I’ve achieved and am excited to show the people of Melbourne what I have created.
“The Art of Corsage and Masking” Exhibition is being showcased at St Heliers Street Gallery, Abbotsford Convent February 4th and runs until February 25th.
TEXT BY JONATHAN SCHUSTER
IMAGE BY HELGA SALWE