A cooler blend of culture

Petrie dish: interview with fine artist Scott Petrie

When viewing artist Scott Petrie’s work here, it probably rings a familiar bell. You know you love it as well as recognising its unique and abstruse style. Perhaps in one of your hip lifestyle magazines on your very hip coffee table, right? Well, Australian design bible ‘Belle’ and other interior publications, both in Australia and abroad, are perfect reference points if you think you’ve seen the man’s work in print. Petrie’s artwork has not only been vastly for a number of years but also adorns the walls of some prime real estate, from Australia to Abu Dhabi, Singapore to NYC.

Adam Scougall chats to Petrie about his artistic journey over the last fewyears. From an early career start in fashion design to working with children with disabilities, to producing and creating cutting-edge paintings, his is an effervescent artistic blueprint.


You’ve  been a staple in a number of design publications. Tell us more about your journey into fine art and design.

Immediately after high school, I studied Fashion Design at the School of Visual Arts before working briefly for fashion design Stuart Membry. Leaving behind the fashion world [working with Membry would be enough to put us off], I sunk my teeth into a whole new arena, working intermittently for the next 15 years with kids with disabilities, including behavioural, physical and mental issues. Then I had a rather sideways career move  in property development. For almost a decade, I oversaw many residential developments in Sydney and was involved in the interior design of many. At 27, I began attending art classes in my spare time, focusing on life drawing and abstraction, and finally I found my true calling and moved to New York to paint seriously.


Have you travelled elsewhere much?

I enjoyed two years in Switzerland, time in LA, and then nine months in Morocco, all the while finetuning my painting style. Inspired by the natural environment, my art is infused by bold blazes of colour and reflects my travels.

Where is your business based now, and what areas are you currently working in?

I have the pleasure of being a full-time artist working mainly out of my Singapore studio. My new show ‘Fresh’ opens in Sydney on 19 November at my longtime agent’s house in Randwick. It is a really exciting exhibition of 15 works in rich greens, teals and jades and inspired by my time in Asia. I also have a range of rugs made by Nying Zemo (www.nyingzemo.com) which was great to see the works on a completely new ‘canvas’, so to speak.


What would you say were your career highlights to date?

I will never forget doing my first ever commission project through architectsBurley Katon Halliday. It was for three large paintings for a penthouse they were designing in Elizabeth Bay, Sydney, with the interiors ended up being featured in Vogue Living. It was a huge buzz seeing my artworks adorn the walls of such a beautiful home. Also, having my first exhibition in Soho, New York City, about a decade ago really was an amazing feat. And I enjoyed creating two large works that were hung up in the residential lobby for another important Sydney-based architect, Renzo Piano.


Do you have any advice for artists seeking to make a living out of fine art?

Number one would be to start entering art prizes… start exhibiting and looking at government art grants. My motto is to have a strategy. Be clear about what you want. Focus on that and stay strong. I email or call galleries and designers, and research what is ‘in’ all over the world: Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Australia, New York…

You’re back in Sydney to launch your new collection, ‘Fresh’. Tell us a little more about the exhibition.

It marks a departure from my previous collections and has been inspired by living and working in Singapore. I really want to shake things up in my creative practice. The past year in Asia has opened my eyes to a new wave of ideas which have been about exploring fresh colours, mixing up hues and harnessing a fresh focus. I love painting in-situ and that is what this exhibition is all about.


‘Fresh’ is on view at Scott’s  longtime art agent Eugenie Pepper’s eastern suburbs home from Saturday 19 November until Friday 23 December 2011. Viewings are strictly by appointment and can be made to Eugenie Pepper on astroartdesign@me.com.

For more background information please refer to http://www.scottpetrieart.com/.

Next up, Scott Petrie will prepare for a group exhibition organised by the Australian High Commission in Singapore which opens in April 2012.

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