Monica Renaud


Digital Photography

Masters of Fine Arts

Hey Monica - thanks so much for doing an interview with us! So for those who haven’t seen your work before, could you tell us about what you do and make?

Thank you for having me Shelley, I am a photographer that wished she was a painter, and I think I have finally discovered a way that I can express this.

You're also running studiofiftyseven right now... What is it and is there any specific reason for the number 57?

I began studiofiftyseven in 2007 as I was earning an income doing portrait photography. We lived in a house numbered 57. I wanted a name that could cover my dreams of publishing one day, or running an Arts centre etc, this one covers me for everything.

There was a Studio 54 in New York back in the 1970’s, a famous nightclub. Google the old images it’s amazing who danced there…..My partner & I secretly married in City Hall back in 2003 after I won a photography award and was sent to New York as my prize.

So I guess I was referencing this historically as well as the fact that I had by then decided I was an Artist and not a photographer. That was a big moment.

Your photo montages and current works are really interesting in particular - how did you come up with the styles for these and what is the process like to make one of them?

Recently I have been creating works from near nothing. I have to as I am limited financially, geographically and by time. I am a mum and I run the house, do most of the cooking, counselling, planning, taxi-ing, cleaning and so forth - and I like to help my own mum now that she’s slowing down, a little.

I snap away during everyday ritual, my adventures to the supermarket, a daily coffee, (even if I do rob the kids money tins), the small supposed insignificant details of the everyday. I play with them in photoshop, blow them up super big and manipulate the data and pixels, as a meditation, and as an Ode to Mothers, taking these moments to a larger scale physically and metaphorically.  

We also heard that you're exhibiting during Artsweek at UNSW! Can you give us a little bit of an insight into what you’ll be creating? How did you come up with the idea?

I have made a digital landscape called Tangerine Dream, which will be presented as a projection. The work originated as an iPhone image of a wall full of hundreds of cans of spray paint. I had been to a store in Newtown to buy an orange aerosol paint for a custom frame I was having made.

The final colour selected was called Tangerine. The frame was being made for my first ever accepted artwork into my local Art on Paper Award at Hazelhurst Gallery & Arts Centre. This is a milestone for me as an Artist and local practitioner and I guess this new work for Artsweek is a celebration of that.

Actually Arc at UNSW Art & Design awarded me a Grant to test print my torn pixel digital works onto large scale fine arts papers with a lab I have used for years. This was integral to my works progression as it is often difficult to imagine the true image quality only via my Mac screen.

Leading on from that, you've participated in quite the number of exhibitions so far. What’s been your favourite work that you’ve created or exhibition you’ve contributed in?

I love Gaffa Gallery in Clarence St Sydney. They have been a wonderful support to me. I did do a solo show there in January of 2018 to mark the early stages of my Masters Degree, as well as participating in a variety of group shows with them also.

For the Solo show, I made a 13 meter long site specific vinyl wallpaper trim that circumnavigated the entire space, about halfway up the wall. Like kids may have in their bedrooms with teddy bears or pretty decorations on. It was titled, Self Portrait as Landscape.

Mine was a collage made from a vintage anatomical illustration of the internal structures of the female breast by Sir AP Cooper from an 1840 publication. I mirror collaged this with Mulga trees I had photographed in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.  

Do you have any projects or collaborations coming up we should know about

YES! I have just been notified of my selection for the AiR trip out to Fowlers Gap with 8 other Artists from UNSW Art & Design. It is a wonderful opportunity for me to gather new images and material for future making as well as consider the next direction my practice may take.

As my work is autobiographical, I hope to see a progression and movement of my practice over the years as I respond to the many different stages and experiences I am fortunate enough to encounter. This is the first time also that I have left our sons, aged nearly 16 and 9 (other than a few days in hospital once). 

The boys are excited for me (as well as the non policed time on technology, pizza dinners and late nights).

Final question! You're studying your Masters right now and most of our readers are fellow art & design students like yourself. Do you have any advice for those who are graduating from their Bachelors and wish to further pursue the fine arts?

It’s a decision. Once you make that decision you can go for it and immerse yourself and make and take advantage of the myriad opportunities available to us here in Sydney. I once struggled with the mindset that Art may not be important, especially when faced with perhaps a sick child or a death in the family, or any kind of struggle and sadness. Its hard to play with colours and talk about the concepts of exhibition design, those topics which may seem insignificant during these tougher times. But once you realise how important Arts really are to the community, your family and in fact making a contribution to the World arts circuit, nothing can stop you. Could you imagine life without Music, or theatre, films, or immersive installations that swallow you whole and spit you out with a totally fresh outlook on life? I can’t.

Tiffany Ho

Jessica Lazarus

Artist of the Week Gallery

More Arcadia!