Perth artist Louise Farnay has become well-known for her dreamy paintings of women underwater, and plenty more.
She’s now compiled some of her favourite artworks for a new coffee table book, Louise Farnay – ‘Cos Life’s A Beach launched next week. (For your chance to win a copy of the book, read on.)
What inspired the book?
I have led such an eclectic fulfilling life, and lived all over the world working on creative projects and jobs, many people I have met have urged to write about my life, so here it is!
It was a huge undertaking, trying to piece my ”no voids” life, digging up old photos of me as a toddler and art school youth, plus some of my travels Naturally the first person who popped in to my head was my wonderful Mother, and all those beautiful memories of her. She was so creative and nurturing, she’d be proud of me creating a pictorial book!
Was it hard to know what to include and what to leave out?
It was enormously hard. I wanted to include friends from all over the world, all my paintings, experiences, travels to over 80 countries, all my exhibitions, and snippets. My super-creative friend in Singapore, Charles did all my graphic design and formatting, and he was ruthless with the editing! Having his influence, without emotion, help pull it all together, made it a lot easier.
At the last minute before it went to print, I was asked to paint one of my typical Beach Bums paintings, to be laser cut into a scented wooden jigsaw puzzle, and now that painting now appears on the last page in my book.
You’re a Perth native but you lived away for many years. What did you do and how did your travels influence you as an artist?
I have always been drawn to culture, language, the arts, traditions and customs. When I was in primary school we studied Japanese culture and language and I recall saying to myself at about aged 11, ”I will go to Japan”. I wanted to travel to countries that intrigued me culturally, so I did, over 80 in total; Japan, Russia, Tunisia, Jordan, Morocco, Malta, Israel, Holland, France, India, UK, Peru, Brazil, to name a few. The more remote, the more fascinating to me.
The history in London museums, galleries and influenced me, and the multi-cultural London had a great influence on my early illustrative work. When I first went to London I worked in advertising, but couldn’t stand being indoors. Suddenly Europe, the Middle East and the mysterious Russia were all in such close proximity.
Living in Japan three times for six years, I studied and practiced sumi-e, traditional calligraphy brush work using ink on washi paper. That definitely influenced my work, as during that time, I usually started a new painting with that beautiful dense, matt black ink. My Mum also made beautifully textured paper at the same time so I would use her paper and washi paper in my paintings too.
Mostly I was a lone traveler, I actually waited 10 years to find the right person to travel South America with, as it was very dangerous back in 1991. We walked the Inca Trail for five exhausting, but beautifully liberating days to Machu Picchu. I sat and drew all the curvy figures on Cococabana Beach, developing my illustrative style, while protecting our stuff on the beach from multitudes of thieves watching us.
Even my recent visit to Burning Man in the Nevada desert in 2019 was a massive influence; I did a couple of paintings after that wild ride, while the experience was freshly embedded in my psyche!
What inspired you to move back to WA?
My dear Mum was so ill, so I returned to be near her. I was growing weary of Hong Kong, my last port of call so I it felt like time. I had returned a few times earlier in previous but always got itchy feet and left again. It was very, very hard returning home after close to 30 years away.
On return to Perth, I certainly noticed the clean, unpolluted air. It was like the colour had been intensified as it was so bright. Colours were so much more intense, and I was naturally drawn back to the beauty of the ocean. The rest is history really. You’ll see in my book, from 2014, when I returned, to now.
You’ve been quite prolific since you moved back; you’ve had several exhibitions and you also hold classes. What’s currently on the boil?
Next week on Wednesday 5th May (Covid permitting) I am having a Book Launch and Exhibition Party at Black Toms in West Perth from 5:30pm, hosted by Seven Mills from 6PR. Should be a lot of fun! I am going to have a few giveaways for the best dressed man, and lady on the night!
I have just completed my fourth exhibition at Gallows Gallery, and I run workshops in Perth and Dunsborough. They are so rewarding for both me and my eclectic students, of all ages.
My jigsaw puzzles can be ordered through my website, www.louisefarnay.com or through Mr Bob’s Puzzles.
I am having a book reading in Dunsborough for the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June at Happs Winery and Pottery on Commonage.
I’m signing books at The Lane Bookshop in Theatre Lane, Claremont on Saturday 29th May from 10:00-1:00pm.
Lastly I was selected by PLC, my old school, to be the artist of the year for their OCA, annual Art Exhibition. Look out for the billboards featuring my painting, Illusion, along Stirling Hwy and in the streets surrounding PLC. The opening reception party is on Friday May 21. It’s a fun, ticketed event.
Who would your book appeal to?
Almost everyone! Kids, artists, those who love travel, writers, musicians, anyone with interest in visuals and art. It’s a highly pictorial book so it’s like being taken on a wildly colourful visual journey through my life, with some narration here and there.
We have a copy of ‘Cos Life’s A Beach to give away to a lucky Starfish subscriber. To enter our easy contest, just Like/Share this page and email us at email@example.com telling us in a sentence why you’d like the book; be sure to include your postal address. The winner will be announced at Louise’s book launch on May 5.
To buy the book, visit www.louisefarnay.com or go to Collins Booksellers, Cottesloe, Lanes Bookstore, Claremont or Subiaco Bookshop.