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Bayside courier sat down  with Studio Gallery Founder, Director and Abstract Expressionist, Kerry Armstrong, to talk all things art.

Where did you grow up and where do you live now? 

I was born in Birregurra VIC, now very elevated with the famous restaurant Brae.  (It certainly wasn't back then!)  We live in beautiful Harkaway on 20 acres in a lovely old historical home of 150 years with my art studio, too many horses, dogs, cats, ducks and the list goes on. 

What fears or nerves did you encounter when transitioning to a full-time artist?  

At that time I was very unwell with a brain tumour so to be perfectly honest I didn't suffer from nerves regarding my transition to full time artist, I had more serious fears to deal with, lets call it healthy perspective!  Looking back it was a wonderful thing to be distracted like that and not be intimidated. 

Creating art involves delving deep within oneself. How do you ensure you're in a safe space emotionally to explore and create?  

My studio is a unique and homely space just for myself, our dogs and very loud music! I try to ensure my interruptions are minimal which does become tricky with 5 galleries across the East Coast of Australia and quite a large team at Studio Gallery!

When do you know it's time to paint? Can you describe that feeling of inspiration?  

My painting ritual always involves music which seems to take me to a creative plane very quickly.  The feeling is quite like the pre labour state expectant mother's experience, an unexplained urgency.  I paint and move around the studio very quickly, almost with impatience if I think about it. I feel this is because my window of offloading subconscious matter is precious and reasonably short. 

How do you feel about relinquishing control over the meaning of your work once it's out in the world?  

It's always been quite interesting to chat to people in the gallery about their interpretation of the work.  It's quite amusing when they're determined to make me 'see' what they see (which I never do!)  I'm an expressionist, so for me it's all about the 'feeling' the work communicates, not necessarily what it looks like.  Ultimately I'm so grateful the work has provided joy and meaning to my collectors.

Studio Gallery has quickly become a hub for artists. What is the importance of accessible art galleries, for artists and the public?  

When we opened Studio Gallery from our then home in Brighton, we saw a huge gap in the market for more transparency regarding pricing and to be offering our artworks online. It was a vastly different landscape back then and I think we were seen as very much overly commercial by existing galleries because we had an Ecommerce site.   Now of course it's very much stock standard, best practice to be online as a gallery.  During Covid however we thought our clients would be missing their European Trips and subsequent art purchases so we spread our artist base wings to include more International talent.  To this day we proudly represent 109 Australian artists, as well as 18 artists from abroad.

What emerging trends do you see in the Australian art world?  

Landscapes and Botanicals have seen a huge lift in success with Australian collectors, formerly seen as a bit old hat.  Our collectors in Australia are drawn to works of large scale, we don't do anything in halves in this country and we tend to have large walls to address unlike many International cities who are space limited. There is a surge of interest amongst our collector base for sculpture and textile art, sensory affirming works.  

What do you like to do around Bayside?  

We still visit Bayside restaurants often and love a great cafe breakfast, nothing of course equals a Melbourne breakfast and coffee.  When we lived in Brighton, rain hail or shine our favourite time of day to go for a walk was sunset, it's a special experience on the foreshore that our dogs still miss!

Some rapid fire questions…

First job?  

Washing dishes in a restaurant in the Dandenongs called the ViennaWald 

Favourite team?  

Only happy when my husband Michael has a win with the Bulldogs!

Last thing you watched?  

Colin From The Office (love it!)

Favourite weekend getaway?  

To be home with my husband Michael the weekend on the farm! 

Favourite local hidden gem?  

There is a tiny private beach behind bushes on the Brighton foreshore, we just loved it - I'm not divulging it! 

Your favourite place in Bayside for…

Breakfast?  Sons Of Mary 
Lunch?  The Stokehouse 
Dinner?  Cucina & Co 
Coffee/Drinks?  Mr & Mrs P 



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