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Hazel Dooney: Inspiration for Independence.

I don't care much for Hazel Dooney's Art - at least not her recent artistic style of lead pencil, ink and watercolour that she's presented since 2006. I think it's important that I mention this as a preface for this article.

It's not the dark themes or graphic, sexual content of some of these works that turns me off. I really have no problem with this kind of subject matter. What bugs me is that, as one artist looking at another's work, her current style just looks too easy.

Which is not to suggest it is easy at all. It just looks that way. It looks like experimental works ripped out of her visual diary and called 'finished art'. They look like paintings still in the planning stages.

Ordinarily I'd go for her more expressive style in other lesser known artists. Usually this style is a break from the monotony of landscapes and rural settings I see in the various regional community galleries. Someone who isn't inspired by yet another tree with sheep grazing in the distance. However Hazel is something of an Australian icon. Perhaps I expect to see something more... 'crafted'.

Excuse me while I choke on the word 'crafted' (a word more obscene than anything Hazel creates and calls 'art').

Now that I've finished this lengthy preface lets get to the point of this article. I aspire to achieve something like what Hazel has achieved with her career. Independence.

Independence from galleries, art dealers, and the whole traditional career path that chokes the life out of many emerging artists before they even get a start. It's said that artists are the last people that should promote and sell their art but look at Hazel... she's doing alright.

In an interview she gave to penseyeview.com Hazel revealed some very scathing opinions about traditional galleries and their system of promoting art...
I think one reason why I've worked so hard to be free of the traditional, institutional and gallery system is that I have always viewed it as a parasitic business that eventually leeches not only artists' souls but also their independence. I felt I'd sold my soul when I first exhibited.

I've exhibited in galleries many times since, but my relationships with them nowadays tend to be one-off and always at arms length. I have been very, very successful without them, handling my own sales, inventory management, client and public relations, and so on. These days, I almost resent paying even the modest commissions I negotiate with my exhibiting galleries: I look at it as renting space. I don't think they do much else for me. They don't have a clue about actually selling.

I loathe the environments of most commercial galleries and nearly all art institutions and museums: most are so sterile, too similar to one another, and badly laid out. I like my shows to be multi-dimensional, like a good, non-stop party – I hate the pseudo-reverence that most galleries try to foster towards art.

Hazel also threw a few punches at Australian Galleries and the Australian art scene...
Australia is parochial, mean-spirited and most of its publicly acclaimed or awarded contemporary works are knock-offs of far more original overseas works. Australian institutions and galleries also lack a deal of originality – and certainly they are more interested in having control of artists than nurturing and encouraging them. In the context of Australia's suburban homogeneity – it defines what Americans refer to as 'white bread' – any kind of risk, but especially creative risk and originality, are actively discouraged. And we haven't inherited our Anglo-Irish forebear’s tolerance of eccentricity.

I'm reluctantly subscribed to Hazel's online newsletter. I really don't care for her art but I admire her determination to get to where she is today. Whilst I probably wouldn't agree 100% with her views on galleries (I think she goes a little too extreme in her summations) they do reflect my own thoughts about why I have no interest in being represented in galleries.

My ego thinks that galleries would be falling over themselves to represent me if I would only show some interest. The reality is, my art is probably too 'crafted'. Not only that but people think I'm more of an 'illustrator'. My work should be in children's books. Which means it probably lacks personal expression and is too accessible (like you lot have any clue about art!).

If Hazel Dooney can do it then so can I. So can you. If you're an artist then read her interview, visit her web site and subscribe to her newsletter.

I can't guarantee you'll learn a a lot but so long as you know Hazel is still being independently successful, you'll always have someone to inspire you to do the same.

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