Scent of a Mango

Postcards Magazine, May/June 2004, Tamara Lindsay

Scent of a Mango

FLESHY, TROPICAL, BOLD, EXOTIC AND UTTERLY DELICIOUS – the words that describe a ripe and ready mango are also applicable to a collection of the same name by local artist Shannon Hamilton.

Scent of a Mango was inspired by a visit to Broome, where the turquoise ocean, red ochres and bold landscape made a perfect backdrop fro Shannon’s figurative works. Although she describes herself as “not really a landscape artist”, the contrast between the colours where the land and the ocean met provided an ideal setting for the characters she so elegantly depicts in the collection.

The collection focuses on the sensuality of the female form and while the characters are not typically beautiful, they are wonderfully identifiable. “The paintings are calm, smooth and have a touch of quirkiness,” Shannno says of the work, which features women wearing goggles and a snorkel, enjoying casual conversation, Japanese girls giggling at the water’s edge and plenty of feet.

She admits that her work always reflects an intrigue with the human form. “I have always loved nudes and figurative work. As a woman, I admire womanly bodies and women of different cultures and backgrounds. I enjoy the natural and normal beauty that we don’t often see in our visual culture.”

Her work is a sensory feast, so it’s not surprising to learn that Shannon’s inspiration is largely through the senses themselves. “My visual sense is the strongest. I see people and things in terms of shadow, tone, line, texture and beauty,” she says. “I am however, inspired to create themes with a combination of my senses-particularly taste and smell.”

“I enjoy the natural and normal beauty that we don’t often see in our visual culture”

Which is highly evident with Scent of a Mango. Broome seems to embrace you as you look at each painting – are those waves lapping? Is time slowing? It’s as though Broome has opened her sumptuous mouth and engulfed you in the tender warmth and wet of the tropical heat.

The idea is that through the paintings, you feel the place and its characters. It is an evocation of the senses which Shannon does with all her exhibitions. In the Flesh, Hot and Spicy and Wok Tossed Summer are some examples of how Shannon combines her artwork with the flavours and textures of a place.

Her work is strong, distinctive and easily recognizable. This is unusual for a relatively new artist, but has worked to Shannon’s advantage. From experimenting with impressionism through to expressionism, Shannon uses bold colours and wild movements to create her abstract pieces.

“My influences vary with the theme and feel of a series of works. In Wok Tossed Summer, for example, threads of Vietnamese silk were woven into the paintings to deliver a sense of place and texture,” she says, adding that her series of Balinese paintings reflected the style of artist Gaughin.

Shannon spent her childhood in Perth- “I was never without a paintbrush in my hand,”she says- and did the sensible, practical thing after finishing high school. She completed a degree in Occupational Therapy, and worked in the field for a number of years.

Two years ago, she quit her full- time job to pursue a career as an artist. Although uncertain, the move was necessary-occupational therapy was never her passion. It did, however, provide Shannon with professional experience that gave her a solid insight into everyday working life. In an industry dominated by odres and deadlines, a strong sense of discipline and firm grasp of business management proved paramount.

Without any formal training, it was up to Shannon to get her work recognized by as many people possible. Entering art shows, building up her folio and walking the streets of London, Melbourne and Perth presenting her work to as many who were willing to see it.

Her talent has not gone unnoticed – Gadfly gallery exhibited Scent of a Mango in March, and there are planned exhibitions in Melbourne later this year and New York in the coming January.

Shannon’s style also caught the eye of property company PH3, who have commissioned her as an Art Consultant for their latest project. The development is an 88-room boutique hotel in the New Barrack Street Square. Five local artists under Shannon’s supervision will create artworks and provide guidance on colour schemes for the new hotel.

It may all sound rather glamourous, but this artist is one with her feet firmly on the ground. Accolades do not drive her. “I just want to be a self-sufficient artist,” she says modestly.

We suspect she’ll be a lot more than that.

For more details on Shannon’s work, visit www.shannonhamilton.com.