Sasanki Tennakoon on stalking artist, installer and educator Taryn Malzard sometime during winter out in the beautiful Hawkesbury region. She may have gotten lost twice and missed the old schoolhouse conversion completely but was allowed a decent slice of Taryn’s time anyway!
If Taryn Malzard wasn’t so nice, she may have mistaken me for a stalker. From the first time I met her, I proceeded to assert myself in a non-threatening fashion into Taryn’s life (largely via Facebook).
Taryn can usually be found in one of three places: her gorgeous studio on the same land as her re-purposed schoolyard house; Hawkesbury Regional Gallery as their gun public programmer and installer; or scaling the face of a giant rock.
Kind enough to invite me to her home, Taryn’s tale of how she and her partner came to acquire their little slice of paradise (complete with sheep and a flying fox) is one that reinforces the idea that sometimes, luck and fate do work together (plus a lot of hard work and perseverance) and result in magic.
In addition to the afore mentioned gigs, Taryn also runs art workshops from her studios in the evenings and during school holidays as well as running a business with her partner creating and supplying indoor rock climbing moulds from a shed just a few metres from the house and studio. Did I mention she’s the kick-ass mother of two very astute kids?
From childhood Taryn had an insatiable thirst to create so her parents found an art class to send her to but the artist in question was not so keen on kids. Initially. Once anyone meets Taryn though, they’re lost in her spell of creative enthusiasm and genuine no bullshit niceness.
Getting to hang out with this fabulous lady was a definite treat and I learned a heck of a lot more than I had been able to during our previous snippets of conversation. What struck me is how prolific and determined Taryn is – nothing is too daunting and even if it is, all the more reason to roll up those sleeves and get stuck into it. Needless say, I admire Taryn a tonne and am pretty stoked to have had the opportunity to get to know her a better.
How would you sum up your artist practice for someone that has never met you?
I’ve been called a ‘Vibrant Realist’, which I don’t mind as I do tend to focus on a realistic depiction of the subject, but then look at how to enhance the colour and contrast to give extra impact. So, that works for me!
Being an artist, artsworker, parent, partner, rock climber, businesswoman and running your own workshop program – do you find a relative balance between these different workloads? How do you approach all these hats?
Sometimes it all flows and at other times, not so well! It’s usually my own art practice that has to take second place which can be really frustrating. I think the difficulty is I love all the varied parts of my life equally, and want to commit to them all equally, but when faced with the realities of supporting a family, the adult in me wins, and the painting or climbing has to wait!
You mentioned that your lack of formal tertiary qualifications has omitted certain opportunities, despite being over qualified through experience alone. How do you feel about those pieces of paper in an industry that has traditionally been based on skill and experience?
Personally, I’m from a generation where you worked from the floor up, gaining knowledge as you climb the ladder and, should you prove capable, progress to the top jobs. In recent years I have come across a number of instances where someone has had the piece of paper but they totally lacked the skills and attributes for that position.
So which is best, in an ever increasingly competitive industry? You would think both, but how do you gain them simultaneously?I find its almost a catch 22! I would like the qualification to do exactly what I already do for which I have 15 years’ experience.
Unfortunately the majority of positions in the arts require a degree. So, I personally will need to give up some of my part time gallery jobs to fit in the time for the degree which financially imposes on supporting a family, which negates the reason I would be wanting to apply for a more financial and secure position in the first place!!
At Hawkesbury Regional Gallery you have spearheaded quite an exciting and progressive public program, what do you find exciting about working in this part of the arts industry?
I just love it!! I’m an artist and I get paid to be creative, what could be better?!! I then get the added bonus of seeing the public engage with the set activity and feed off their enthusiasm and enjoyment. It always amazes me how varied an activity outcome can be but that’s the beauty of art!
Who has been one of the most influential people in your life creatively?
To name just one, It would have to be the beautiful woman and artist, Marjorie Prophet. She was never an every house hold name but she had her achievements, including having been an Archibald finalist in her day! The knowledge I gained from receiving her old school basics in drawing and several other mediums has been invaluable but, more importantly, I witnessed a master in how to convey information and get any ‘want to be artist’ to produce works they enjoyed and were proud of accomplishing.
If you could impart advice to Taryn from a decade ago – what would it be?
DON’T PROCRASTINATE!!!! But I know I still will and I don’t like following instructions, so it’s not going to make any difference. LOL
You can find more information on Taryn here