Rose Agnew

A Rose by any other name...

I find my happiness in making.

Poison rings of gold and pendants of black pearl, oil paintings, fine detailed pencil drawings for children’s books never written, stories told by others on national radio , watercolours and inks, wedding dresses and corsets, whimsical cakes, abstract symmetry and scientific renderings, botanical illustrations and postcards. Since my earliest years I have been driven to make stuff. I love the processes involved in making. From the contemplation, the first touch of the making, to the discovery and satisfaction of the manifestation. Sometimes it is a direct route to the finished work, sometimes a meandering path of discovery.  

I am fascinated by our world and how we make sense of it. Humans are the only creatures who tell stories, and the hows and whys of this are what appeals to me. From the stories we tell ourselves, our personal narrative, our dreams, our lies, to our retelling of shared cultural histories – these are the things that shape our views as we create the future. These are the things that I delve into.

In order to get my ideas out of my head and into the world, I am committed to an ongoing process of exploring and mastering techniques from both modern and ancient artistic fields. Sometimes I find it necessary to develop my own methods to get stuff done. Technique is very important. A few years ago I wanted to learn watercolour painting. Anyone who has ever tried will know that watercolour is beautiful, but it is a difficult discipline as it requires careful planning and is very unforgiving. There is no going backwards. So, to learn water colour technique I enrolled in a term of botanical illustration at the Royal Botanic Gardens. Melbourne. This ticked several boxes for me – a focus on nature, science, technical expertise and observation. After a little while I was delighted to be asked to contribute a couple of works to the Victorian State Botanic Collection. One of my images was even used on hand painted Christmas baubles sold through the Royal Botanic Gardens’ shop. 

I love to paint in oil; skyscapes, landscapes, surreal images, still life and people. I love painting people. There’s an aspect of storytelling in portraiture as well, both the subject’s and the painter’s.

The other major focus of my work is jewellery making. I did my degree in gold and silversmithing in Queensland. My pieces are very labour intensive. I hand make pretty much everything. I just can’t help it. I am a tool addict after all. I use reclaimed piano ivory and ebony, industrial plastic off cuts, found objects, as well as precious metals, gems and pearls. Some of my pieces reflect my interest in the ancient world. For example, I have a collection of rings which look like roman coins but are actually repousse foil which came from chocolate coins. And sequins, hand cut precious metal sequins. Hundreds and hundreds of sequins!   

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the cities I have lived in and projecting these ideas into an imagined future - a neo-modernist epoch; possibly a future where the hand made and the industrial have an alliance of necessity.  

Bye for now,