With her exhibition Sex, Love, C*ck ‘N’ Soul currently upstairs at Courthouse Youth Arts, Samantha Taylor is an artist to watch in the region with a creative use of mixed media exploring sexual intimacy and its effects on a human consciousness, depicted from a female point of view.

CONTENT WARNING: This exhibition contains content that is of both a sexual and explicit nature. It also contains nudity, coarse language and adult themes. Viewer discretion is advised. This exhibition is not for the easily offended or those under 15 years of age without a parental guardian.

Do you remember your first experience with art?

Although it’s a memory I no longer remember, my mother always recalls my first day of kindergarten. Instead of wallowing in misery and chucking a tantrum, I ran straight up to the art station and started painting instead! My love for art flourished throughout my childhood, which was evident particularly during Christmas. Nan would gift my cousins baby dolls while I was given a Mega Art box full of crayons, textas and more!

What’s been your artistic journey to take you to where you are at the moment?

After graduating from high school, I attempted university for five months, enrolled but did not commence, did a different degree and completed a Travel and Tourism course all in the space of a year. The only consistent hobby/interest was visiting art galleries and sourcing out local hand-made goods. It wasn’t until I commenced (and completed!) a Diploma of Visual Arts at Oxygen College that I considered art for a full-time career.

Is there anything in particular that’s helped shape your style?

I spend majority of my spare-time visiting art galleries and seeking out artists on social media – which has helped define the type of art I like, and do not like, which assists in the shaping of my personal art style. I’m still not sure I even have a certain style so it’s definitely a work in progress!

Your current exhibition at CHYA explores the journey of admiration and despair particularly with the angle of sexual intimacy and its effects on human consciousness. What did you discover about these themes while putting the exhibition together?

The essence of my work is derived from personal experience which I have reflected upon, leaving me to question who I am as a lover. I overthink, I analyse and I interpret scenarios in life. Basically I’m always day-dreaming and my brain is constantly ticking. This enables me to weave honest interpretations into my art, which address emotions such as admiration and despair.

Has your viewpoint changed at all since creating these pieces?

A year or so ago, I considered myself to be a feminist artist as the female figure was/is a major motif throughout my works. I now believe I am female artist who depicts female figures, and does not necessarily hold a feminist title. They are simply portraying what they know best – themselves. Sex, admiration and despair are not solely female hardships so perhaps I am merely a female artist, who is also a feminist.

The exhibition features paintings and collage work, how did you come to find your comfortability with these mediums? Do you work with any other styles?

The majority of my works were created intuitively, most often or not late at night when I felt a burst of artistic energy. Truthfully, I struggle with painting as it’s a lengthy process and drying time between layers always suck! But I source out various tips and tricks online and from other artists to help with the process as everyone has their own method. I love collaging as I create the works from pre-loved magazines and books I find at op-shops around Geelong. It takes time and patience to find specific imagery. I believe the publications I discover are the tools I need at this time-point of my artistic journey. If it’s meant to be, it will always find a way to you!

Your collage work in particular features numerous magazine clippings of women etc, what kind of role do you think magazines play in a women’s life?

The works “Product of Lust” and “You Are A Flame In My Pussy” are derived from pornography publications which I purchased following the viewing of Del Kathryn Barton’s current exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. I am a major fan of her work and was buzzing with ideas regarding female anatomy in the public eye. I am all for sexual empowerment; clothes on or off. However, I believe such magazines were created specifically for the male gaze, through the male gaze. I mean really, where are the porn magazines for women?

This was your first solo exhibition, how did you come to find the whole process of putting it together?

Throughout the process I had many doubts regarding the pieces I chose to exhibit and how the public will receive the works. I wasn’t sure if I was even ready mentally to hold a solo exhibition! The diploma course at Oxygen College really emphasised the nitty gritty aspects of exhibiting as a professional artist which enabled me to organise myself – leaving no surprises.

Has the experience had any impact on your creative process?

Following the opening night, I reflected upon my pathways as an artist and the phrase “It takes the radical to move the middle” was on constant replay in my mental space. I realised I must take opportunities such as exhibition space, to create large, striking works which portray my beliefs no matter how provoking it may be.

With that now ticked off, what’s your next artistic goal to achieve?

In the future I hope to participate in art residencies and host numerous solo exhibitions across the region and ultimately, Australia. I also aim to get my butt into gear and participate in Artisan markets, selling hand-made goods.

How did you find out about Courthouse Youth Arts?

The staff at Oxygen College!

Ultimately, what are you hoping viewers take away from the exhibition?

When wandering through the exhibition, I hope viewers of all ages feel comfortable to discuss issues regarding sex, love and heartbreak. These issues are often considered ‘taboo’ subjects and I aim to, and will, break that barrier with the use of art as a learning tool.

Find out more about Samantha’s exhibition ‘Sex, Love, C*ck ‘N’ Soul’ here. It’s currently on display until Thursday, February 22. Follow Samantha on Instagram.

All images by Leikography.