Painting memories that aren’t her own, this Sydney-based artist has created a style that truly is.
Australian artist Eliza Gosse paints Mid-century Modern dwellings as if plunging into the cool depths of her memory and scooping out moments from the halcyon past. The pared-back lines and muted pastels of her oils on canvas conjure faded photographs and fond reminiscence. Only Gosse isn’t a boomer recalling her golden days. The Sydney-based painter is in her mid-20s and graduated with a Master of Fine Art from the National Art School, Sydney, in 2019. “This isn’t my nostalgia I’m depicting,” she says. “I just love when people share their stories of growing up, looking back at a time I wasn’t there for with these rose-tinted glasses.”
As her profile has grown so, too, has the folder filled with anecdotes of childhoods spent in iconic homes sent to Gosse via Instagram or collected through “nerdy Facebook groups” she joined to crowdsource inspiration for her first book, Eggs With Soldiered Toast Buttered Well. Her latest project, Bumpy Roads and Tip Top Sandwiches, calls for recollections of the Aussie road trip: “Sticky Golden Gaytimes in the back seat, hours of staring out the window playing I Spy and the constant nagging 'Are we there yet?’” It’s a kind of tongue-in-cheek response to travel during the pandemic and an ode to cheap motels and breakfast buffets. “One of the main things I’m getting is memories of the Kellogg’s Variety Pack,” she says, laughing.
While Gosse spent a year studying architecture, it’s the storytelling aspect of her art that fascinates her most. She rarely includes figures in her work; instead Gosse prefers to feature an empty chair or a vacant pool. “The simple way I paint perhaps lets people fill in the gaps,” she explains.
An early influence was her grandparents’ “very Australian” prefab house in Gosford, NSW. Gosse admits her own home is full of memorabilia, from 1960s Danish furniture to “very plastic things” from the ’80s. “First, the attraction was visual and I’ve gone deeper and deeper into it,” she says. “It’s an obsession now.”
Exhibited at: Edwina Corlette Gallery, Brisbane, and Liverpool Street Gallery, Sydney.
Awards: Parkers Sydney Fine Art Award, National Art School (2019); William Fletcher Grant for Emerging Artists (2018); John Olsen Prize for Drawing, National Art School (2017).
Breakthrough moment: Gosse’s piece Spoonfuls of Milo at Kosciuszko, depicting Harry Seidler’s 1963 Thredbo ski lodge, was a finalist in the 2020 Wynne Prize, at the Art Gallery of NSW.
What the critics say: “These are finely executed, warm paintings that honour their subjects and follow admirably in the footsteps of the many artists who have been drawn to Australian suburbia.” Chloe Wolifson, The Sydney Morning Herald.