Interview with Debbie Cuthbertson (The Age, 2014)


Statement by Godwin Bradbeer

Chloe Vallance manages a minor miracle with each of her little works of art.
It is in the long tradition of figurative imagery that this should be done with drawing, with painting and of course photography. But it is the considerable challenge of this genre, this realism, to simultaneously assert that the familiar, though commonplace, is also wonderful. We take an almost absolute availability of imagery for granted within our visually saturated cultures such that a certain ennui and even exhaustion to exposure flaws our perception and our capacity to hold a subject in mind.

Vallance looks on life – on her friends and their companions with their satchels and stuff – lovingly, as if someone must take the responsibility of witnessing the moment and its attendant minutiae despite its apparent mundanity.

There is a modesty of aspect to all of her work, which is usually small, often tiny. The little drawings, paintings and structures are often done on detritus, off-cuts of timber and paper margins, recycled studio and workshop residue. The medium is most frequently various paints and colour pencils, it might seem –as she sits with a fistful of Derwents and Cumberlands – that not much has changed for her since kindergarten.
Ironically though, the thing that I like about Vallances work is its toughness. This is to be seen in the axial dynamic of her brush and pencil stroke. It appears to be completely intuitive – but it is also reinforced by a strong studio work ethic – for she knows when to frame a structure with a longitudinal stroke or consolidate volume with a lateral stroke, when to bind a form tight or soften it against space. There is a disegno interno and a structural calligraphy that attests that despite her contemporaneity she has been a good student of other artists, especially Degas and perhaps Mary Cassatt too.

Several recent sequences of Vallances paintings present diptychs with alternating stenciled spaces; the figure present is now the figure absent, the space described is now the void. These works despite their pop simplicity and their sense of playful jigsaw puzzle design, have a disarming profundity that presents disharmony with pictorial and implied philosophical equilibrium. Presence and absence are pressed into a harmonious duality, rendering opposites apposite and comprehensible. Dichotomies of form and space pictured thus appear nuanced rather than divisional.

This, given the seductive intimacy of all of her work, is a considerable achievement.

Godwin Bradbeer, 2012



2014 Master of Arts (Fine Art) by Research, RMIT University, Melbourne
2009 Bachelor of Fine Arts, (Honours), First Class, RMIT University, Melbourne

2014 A Moment of Beauty:An Archive of Intimate Engagements, RMIT School of Art Gallery
2014 Documents of a daily practice, Brunswick Arts Space, Melbourne
2012 Building Castles in the Sky, RMIT University Spare Room, Melbourne
2011 Being here that’s why I want to be there, Brunswick ArtSpace, Melbourne
2010 When within, Dolls House Art Space, Melbourne
Along the way, Red Gallery, Melbourne
Step lightly between the branches, Hand Held Gallery, Melbourne
2009 A Moment at a Time, Area Contemporary Art Space, Melbourne
Drawing from 87 to 4, First Site RMIT Union Gallery, Melbourne
Fables of the Familiar, the Forgotten and the Found, Platform Sample Space,
An Adventure on a Bridge, Pigment Gallery, Melbourne
2008 Chapter 12, Brunswick Street Gallery, Melbourne
Narratives of the Personal, the Playful and Peaceful, Seventh Gallery, Melbourne
2007 Narratives, RMIT Union Swanston Art Space, Melbourne
Human Interaction, First Site RMIT Union Gallery, Melbourne

2013 Smugglers Festival, Smugglers Records, Deal, Kent, UK
2013 Opening In Eye, The Bank Gallery, Eye, Suffolk, UK
2012 Brooke Sharkey; One Dress, St Pancras Church Kings Cross, London
Water Quality, Taylor Street Gallery, South Quay, London
Folk in the Fall Revival, Open Arts Gallery, London
2011 Chelsea International Fine Art Competition, Agora Gallery, New York
2010 Weave / Dokumak, RMIT University Public Art Project, Sile Istanbul, Turkey
Constellations: A Large number of Small Drawings, RMIT University and University of Arts London conference Drawing Out, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne
Unrepresented, 45 Downstairs, Melbourne
Explore 10; Emerging Artists Awards, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne
Off The Wall, Emerging Contemporary Artists; Art Melbourne, Royal ExhibitionBuilding
2009 A Fine Line, RMIT Bachelor of Art (Fine Art) (Honours) Drawing Graduate Exhibition, RMIT University, Melbourne
Irene Barberis, Metasenta Drawing Space, Melbourne
Stephen Farthing : A Drawing Lesson, Metasenta Drawing Space, Melbourne
Anita Taylor Drawn Encounters; translation and interpretation, Metasenta
2008 Four Flights, RMIT Bachelor of Art (Fine Art) Graduate Show, Guildford Lane Gallery
Public Art Exhibition, Monash Centre, Prato, Italy

2014 The Rome Art Program Painting Scholarship
2011 – 2014 RMIT University Masters Scholarship
2010 Australian Council for the Arts, Artstart Grant
2009 Graeme Hildebrand Inaugural Biennial Travel Grant
RMIT Union Arts Council Grant – Individual Arts Funding for a solo exhibition
2007 Siemens RMIT University Undergraduate Fine Art Travel Scholarship

2011 Prometheus Visual Art Award – Finalist
2010 Pleysier Perkins Acquisitive Prize
RMIT University Honours Endowment Travelling Scholarship – Finalist
2009 Bounce RMIT University Well Being Competition
2008 RMIT University Drawing Department Metasenta Award

2014 The Age, Debbie Cuthbertson, Studio Visit : Artist Profile, p14
2011 Inside Out Magazine, Leta Keens, Interview, p41
2009 Art Monthly, Veronica Tello, Review Graduate Exhibitions, p146