Tahlia Scadden’s paintings encompass a range of styles, themes and mediums, reflecting a young artist exploring her talents.
From detailed, emotive greyscale to lurid abstracts, the 16-year-old’s first solo exhibition – Visions Unveiled – is a bold first step into a career in the arts.
“I just can’t picture myself doing anything else, you know, like sitting at a desk in an office,” said Tahlia with a shrug, explaining her decision to leave school after year 10 and enrol in a Diploma of Art at TAFE.
“I’ve faced a lot of challenges at school with ADHD and anxiety and depression, but you know, art is my therapy.
“A safe place where I can communicate things that are often difficult to put into words.”
With a talent for drawing, Tahlia moved to painting with acrylics a little over a year ago and has displayed her work at several local exhibitions and already begun collecting awards.
A large painting of a cat, distorted by a circular ”fish-eye” lens, claimed the junior prize at Coolamon’s Up2Date Art Exhibition last year.
“I’m a bit of a cat nerd and I just love painting them. I’m gonna grow up and have at least eight cats. No kids – just cats,” Tahlia laughed.
“For the competition, I just needed to paint a cat and I love different points of view, so this cat is actually looking into a doorbell camera.”
Originally naming that work Curiosity Killed the Cat, Tahlia said she was persuaded to go with the more cheery name, Sniff.
Many of Tahlia’s paintings wrestle with issues of anxiety and isolation and seek to capture “beauty in the brokenness“.
“I have a lot of meaning and emotion behind my art and, while I’m more into realism and the subjective frame, I’ve been told that I have to learn about different media and experiment in my art.”
One of her favourite pieces in the collection is a riot of colour and aggressive marks bisected by a clean, white line following the path of an eraser.
“I love that one and it can mean a lot to a lot of different people,” she explained.
“I come from a Christian background, so the eraser can stand for Jesus, who is the Light, erasing your sins away, but it can also stand for other people in your life who help clear up your mess.”
A nearby piece depicts a small white rabbit in a chaotic and bloody field.
“Sometimes it feels like in this world, you can’t really trust anyone and be 100 per cent sure that they’re not going to betray you,” she said.
“So it’s the idea that because someone has an innocent appearance, it doesn’t mean they won’t bring destruction into your life.”
Tahlia cites her father as an artistic inspiration along with her teacher, Mandy Martinez, from the Wagga Wagga Christian College.
“I never originally saw art as my future and I was thinking that I was going to be a teacher to help kids, but now I want to teach kids art instead,” she said.
“I want people to realise that you’re not born talented; it was all the practising I did that made me get better.”
Tahlia is hoping to use the next 18 months at Wagga’s TAFE to experiment and refine her talents. While she is shy and sometimes overwhelmed by anxiety, Tahlia hopes to use her art as her voice and to leave a “handprint” behind.
“I think that the human race wants to leave a trace of them behind and show people that they were here,” she mused.
“And that’s what I want to do with my art.”
You can see Tahlia’s exhibition at The Curious Rabbit on Johnston Street until 31 January.