The West

Artist out of comfort zone in Swiss museum adventure
Broome artist Claire Beausein at work at the Natural History Museum in Switzerland.

Returning to Broome’s familiar, inviting landscape, acclaimed Broome artist Claire Beausein said she was happy to be back in her peaceful surrounds after living and working in Europe for four months.

In June she swapped her laid-back Kimberley lifestyle for city life in Basel, Switzerland, to take up residency at the Natural History Museum. Her trip was supported by a mid-career fellowship, granted by the Department of Culture and the Arts WA.

One of two artists to receive the prestigious fellowship, she regarded the trip as a rare and wonderful opportunity.

“I wanted to be totally open to fully absorb what was on offer,” she said.

“That was a little bit scary but I got more out of it by being unprepared.”

During her stay, Beausein presented her Still Life exhibition, inspired by precious coral reefs and the destruction they are facing from pollution and global warming.

Beausein said she had access to millions of specimens, stored in the museum’s Archives of Life.

With support from scientists, Beausein explored the convergence of art and science.

“I learnt some new techniques that I was able to draw on and will no doubt stay with my art for the rest of my life.”
However, Beausein said it took time to settle into her new surroundings.

“Looking up a phone number or getting directions was not straightforward,” she said. “I was hugely out of my comfort zone.”

Beausein said her stay had enhanced her passion for drawing attention to the coral reefs in her work.

“There is so much about pop culture these days and what’s fashionable,” she said. “But to me the importance of nature is paramount and is political and should be really up front for people to see.”

Next year, Beausein will stage a major exhibition at the Linton and Kay Gallery in Perth. This is the second stage of her fellowship.

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