OFFSPRING ARTIST, ADRIANE STRAMPP ON PRINT-ABILITY
By Melanie Dimmitt
Melbourne-based artist Adriane Strampp surrendered her home to a television series, incidentally becoming owner of one of the most sought-after lounge rooms in the country (at least, by a legion of Offspring fans). Her Collingwood dwelling (a coat hanger-factory turned two-storey warehouse) boasts an interior and an eclecticism bold enough to echo the chaos of the show’s heroine, Nina Proudman, and Strampp has decided to let it spill out – producing a limited edition of prints straight from the walls of the highly televised abode.
In similarly art-strewn surroundings I found the painter, brush in hand, at her nearby Fitzroy studio. “I received hundreds of emails enquiring about that painting,” she says of the moody work hung above Nina’s couch. Viewers may not realise that that painting could be one of two – the original was sold at the end of season four. “We swapped paintings halfway through series five,” she muses, amazed that nobody picked the switch. In the audience’s defence, the works are a similar shade of grey.
She’s seen brighter days – her earlier, Renaissance-inspired Dress Series embodied a rich array of hues. “Over the years the colour has dropped from my work more and more. I think it really was a response to life being so busy and hectic, I just needed that calmness and quiet.”
Her paintings are evocative, with different elements emerging as you gaze, “like being in a dark room and letting your eyes get accustomed to the darkness.” Their sense of displacement springs from US-born Strampp’s nomadic childhood, where her artistic flair first formed on the pages of aeroplane colouring books.
Melbourne saw the bulk of her creative studies – a BA in painting and, more recently, a Master of Fine Arts – and her exhibitions have graced major cities for the better part of thirty years. Strampp’s ‘Offspring works’ are in a similar and shadowy vein to her Lake Paintings, which hung in Sydney’s King Street Gallery through August.
“Yes, that painting’s still available, here’s the price,” she’d say when fans of the show inquired, but rarely heard back from them. While the original did eventually sell, the general undervaluing of art remains a bugbear. “A lot of people don’t go to galleries. They’re used to putting together ‘a look’ on a budget.” Home-renovation programs could be to blame, ever-promoting the ‘happy print’.
“There are a lot of graphic designers out there who are making prints now. They’ve got a great eye and beautiful palates, so they splash some colour around.” She glances at a canvas in progress, which has fresh oil glistening over layer upon layer of work. The finished 90x90cm piece will cost $7,700.
“Since the financial crisis I haven’t put the prices up. The art market really crashed and it’s still pretty tough. Before, you’d sell most, or all, of a show. Now two or three is pretty good, sometimes you don’t sell anything.”
A mass-produced ‘happy print’ might only put you back a few hundred, but is, in art terms, valueless. “It’s hard for people to understand the difference if they don’t follow artists’ careers,” she says. “If an artist makes a print it’s a very different thing because they’ve got a strong exhibition history – there’s content behind the work.” An artist’s limited edition print will at least hold, if not grow, in value.
Strampp’s paintings (two from ‘Nina’s’ lounge room and one from her boudoir) have successfully transferred to cotton rag paper. “It gives them another feel, another dimension. It’s just lovely.” And at less than a tenth of the paint-on-canvas price, they may well spell the future of sellable art.
Melanie is a freelance writer, journalist and girl about town in Melbourne’s inner north who takes pleasure in plundering her cultural surrounds.