Vol 35(1) - The echidna
Marina Strocchi has created a rich and independent visual vocabulary in her layered paint surfaces which reflect her relationship with her surroundings and life in the Northern Territory.
Brought up in an Italian-Australian family in Melbourne, Strocchi studied art then moved to Paris to study French and tour Europe for two years, soaking up the art and architecture. After returning to Melbourne in 1987, she worked as a screenprint artist with various groups in the community. Then, in 1992, she was invited to establish the Ikuntji Art Centre at Haasts Bluff — a remote Aboriginal community west of Alice Springs, in Central Australia. The artists there developed a fresh feel for painting and are well represented in public collections.
Marina draws her inspiration from community life and the luminous colours of the central Australian desert. Her points of reference are varied, and include the art of ancient cultures such as Egyptian, Roman, Minoan, Incan, Aboriginal and African art, and 20th century artists such as Picasso, Matisse and Klee.
Marina plays with the notion of patterning from nature with flat maze-like shapes, scattered with naïve symbols of trees, animals and cars. The colours she uses — browns, reds, white and yellow — further her connection with the land. However, look closer and a narrative becomes apparent. Part reflection, part observation, Marina’s paintings are direct and express the landscape and life around her.
“For me, the most important lesson I learnt from working so closely with the artists of the Central desert, was that one must jump into a canvas head first and just go for it. … it always gave me a thrill to watch someone start like that.” — Marina Strocchi