Miranda Free is a very prolific painter because, as she says, “she just loves to paint.” Not limited to a specific genre, she moves freely between figurative, landscape and still life, with a particular passion for painting from life, including en plein air (outdoors). Living in the South West town of Nannup for the past three years, surrounded by many forms of beauty, has helped fuel her creative core.
Miranda grew up in Sydney, lived in regional NSW, then Queensland, mostly in Brisbane but with a couple of years in Cairns, before moving to WA about 10 years ago. With several years studying at a country university in NSW and time in Cairns FNQ, the move to Nannup was not her first ‘tree change’ but it is the smallest regional town she’s ever lived in.
“When I was young I drew and painted obsessively. I planned to go to art school right up until I was in Year 11 and 12, but then had a crisis of confidence at the last minute,” she explains. Coming from an academic and scientifically focused family she opted to do a science degree and honours in molecular biology.
Working in science and communications combined with raising three boys didn’t leave much scope in her younger adult life to pursue her artistic passion. “So my main creative outlet was moving furniture around the house!”
These days she has exhibition and residency engagements galore:
- Opening on 25th September, her ‘Water Play’ exhibition, exploring both the ways people play in water, and how to ‘play’ with paint to represent water is showing at Studio 11 in Fremantle for two weeks.
- Then she will be exhibiting still life and figurative works that demonstrate her love of detailed patterns at the Bond Store in the Old Courthouse in Busselton from 17th November.
- Next year (after opening her studio for the Blackwood River Arts Trail) she heads east for a five week residency at Tweed Heads Regional Gallery in NSW.
- Works resulting from the residency that explore the landscape across time and in different weather conditions will feature in an exhibition at the Collie Art Gallery with another artist from Nannup, Leanne White.
- And in between all this her Nannup studio – The Eyrie – is open to the public by appointment and during events such as the Flower and Garden Festival.
Miranda’s creative challenge now is not how to move furniture around the house but how to strike a balance between spending time in the studio and helping manage the BRAT (Blackwood River Arts Trail). The BRAT is an arts event she established in 2020, and largely coordinated in 2021 and 2022..
Miranda describes the genesis of the BRAT as ‘an accidental beginning’. A collective of Nannup artists were keen to link into the Great Southern Art & Craft Trail (based on the South Coast). When Covid canceled the main event, the local artists decided to proceed alone. It has since evolved to include 60+ artists across 30 venues and numerous towns (Nannup, Bridgetown, Boyup Brook, Greenbushes and Balingup). 2022 saw the emergence of a film component that stretched the event across artforms. A ‘survey’ exhibition at the Collie Art Gallery and expanded marketing helped increase the profile of participating artists. The BRAT is now an incorporated association with a vision to consolidate its impact as an ongoing event of significance to the region.
Miranda is hoping to see old and new faces at the BRAT AGM this Friday in Nannup. The organisation hopes to welcome more people on board, encouraging arts lovers as well as artists to support it.
If you can’t make it to the AGM, you can always have a chat with Miranda in her studio. The Eyrie is nearly always open (at 42 Carey Street, Nannup), just call ahead to check. She has a lovely garden and barista coffee for donation.