Sam Randall employs the use of colour, detail and layering to portray fierce images that invoke a feeling of connection, whilst portraying universal narratives. The intensity of her colours are often juxtaposed by dark backgrounds, lending weight to the foreground, but also giving us the sense that there is always darkness lurking within and around us.
Sam describes her work as complexly simple, and it is at times confronting. Her interest in subculture, folklore and ancient Japanese and oriental art shine through in her use of particular plants and animals. Her striking use of skulls, often decorated and layered in bright flowers and plants, may represent stories of impermanence, transition or freedom as in the Mexican lore, Dia de los Meurtos (Day of the Dead) celebrations. We might also see narratives of transcendence via the natural life (and death) cycle, as in traditional Japanese culture. Sam says:
“Technically, I am influenced by Surrealism, Abstraction, Impressionism, and Pop Art. All these genres influence my work in very specific ways. I’m inspired by life stories, subculture and folklore, symbolism, traditions, particularly the ancient and mythological stories passed down through generations, ancient Japanese art, unusual flora… and all things mythical, dark and oriental.”
Sam has pursued creative work her entire life, saying, “I truly believe if you are a creative personality type you just ‘are’ and must pursue a creative career to be satisfied. All my careers have been creative. I’ve been a hairdresser and beautician, a Children’s experiential play/ art therapist and a painter.” She currently works as a Children’s Counsellor for Act for Kids but has been working with and on behalf of children since 1997, becoming a qualified Social Worker in 2002 and a qualified Children’s Therapist in 2005.
Her signature style reflects her interest in universal stories of love, fear sadness, loss, anger and personal growth, which also comes from her work as a counsellor. We see her sense of wonder in her world, but beneath the layers we also get a sense of the deeper narratives.
“A painting might be my story, your story or a universal story we all experience… My practice is informed by theoretical and therapeutic approaches that allow children to articulate their life stories and express their emotions in safe ways that are typically not verbal. These are called experiential therapies (art, play, music, stories etc). This is also the premise of my art and its processes.”
Sam agrees that art is a very powerful process. Through expression and exploration a person can “process their issues and develop their own life narrative on both a conscious and unconscious level,” but should only be undertaken by a professional with the highly specialised skills. “It has the potential to unlock a person’s repressed trauma history and delve into their fragile psyche. Doing this and not knowing how to work effectively and safely bring a person back to a safe place can be extremely harmful. I often hear of people that (who may have the best of intentions) use art as therapy on others with no qualifications and this both angers and saddens me.”
Art Therapy is not to be undertaken by a novice.
However outside of therapy, art can provoke questions and spark curiosity or provide a sense of calm, which is valuable to many. Having been raised in South Australia with no siblings at home, Sam says she had plenty of time to ponder and explore her imagination. She was a “staunch introvert” and her daydreaming or whimsical stories are still the foundation of her art today.
“For as far back as I can remember I have drawn, painted, written stories and created things. It’s just what I did and as I got older I realised it’s who I am. Not having a creative career wasn’t even an option.”
She has also found inspiration from collaborating in an empowering movement of work created for Warrior Women – various group exhibitions in Brisbane and Melbourne which expressed powerful images about womanhood and feminism. But allowing herself to be a professional artist and being recognised as one was part of her dream. “Everything on top of that is just lovely sweet icing on top the wonderful artist cake!”
Her advice to budding creatives is not to obsess over success, money, accolades and public recognition. “If I could share any wisdom it would be to spend a lot of time both in the beginning and regularly along the journey to fully understand what you create what you do and why. Develop your professional principals early. These can change but are the anchor to come back to.”
“To create paintings that share a powerful story, evoke a strong feeling in the viewer, inspire others to think deeper thus live a life more vibrant.”
If you want to learn more about Sam and her work, please use the links below: