Who is Mirra Whale?
I am an artist who is currently living in Sydney’s inner west. I bounce between the city and escaping to the country as much as I can. I have a love of drawing and painting, and am particularly drawn towards the tradition of still life and portraiture. And I also love to cook – food plays a great role in my life.
What would you do differently to what you do now?
I’ve lived for the idea of being in the moment, living and working all over the country and world for a lot of my adult life. I have few regrets, but one that springs to mind is not joining ‘Humps not Dumps’ – an anti-nuclear camel trek in the late 90s, breaking in a feral camel and traveling through the Australian desert. Aside from that, I would have focussed on art as my priority sooner.
I graduated from art school (National Art School) more than a decade ago, but cooked to support myself through my studies led to a whole lot of other places, like as a seasonal head chef in The Kimberley at an eco resort. Working in communities in the desert, have been great, but it is only now that I’m trying to bring these experiences into my art practise, and have art as my main focus.
Who inspires you and why?
I’m inspired by people who make the world a better place, the artists, musicians, the human rights advocates. My friends. I have incredible friends.
What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Hopefully what I’m doing can make a difference, or at least contribute to a grander movement of creativity and caring about the world around me. And food.
Favourite holiday destination and why?
Istanbul, Turkey. I love it. The wild architecture of ancient and modern times interlacing, the food and spice markets, antiques, pigeons, and music on the street.
When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
There is a big water tower on top of the hill in Petersham close to where I live. I love to sit underneath and drink wine. It is quite surreal and oddly majestic.
What are you currently reading?
I am reading A fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. It’s beautiful and saddening. And Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything as an attempt to stop asking silly questions.
What are you currently listening to?
My old favourites, pretty much every day… Nick Cave, Bob Dylan, Nina Simone
Catching yourself smiling unaware. And cooking up a feast to share with friends.
What does the future hold for you?
I’d love to buy a block of land in the bush and build a studio and house. Have a dog and a couple of goats.
A finalist in this year’s Archibald Prize for her portrait of Philip Nitschke, Mirra’s work can be seen in THIS IS ME: Examination of the art of self-image, a group show at Ballarat’s The Lost Ones Gallery from 24 August 2016. For more information, visit: www.thelostones.com.au for details.
Image: Mirra Whale – photo by Clementine Barnes