Artist Spotlight with Jo Bertini

Neon Landscape brings the desert to life in collaboration with internationally renowned Australian artist Jo Bertini. Colour overflows the canvas as Jo takes us on a vivid journey of her imagination and celebration of the landscape.  Read on as Jo shares where she draws her inspiration and love of the unique and fragile beauty of the world's most isolated desert landscapes, people and culture.

We've loved working with Jo on our latest collection, Neon Landscape. You can view the full collection of garments here, bags are arriving soon! 

It's been so exciting to bring your artwork to life in our latest collection, Neon Landscape. Can you tell us about the artwork we've used in our collaboration? 

The paintings were from my time in India and a body of work I made for an exhibition at the IGNCA (Indira Gandhi National Center for Art) in New Delhi. I spent several months living out in the deserts of far northwest India; Kutch, Gujarat and Rajasthan, with the 'Maldhari' or herders and recording their unique lives, landscapes and animals. I was sponsored by the Indian and Australian governments to make artworks to shine a light on the highly endangered cultures of these tribal people. The resulting paintings were from my solo exhibition, 'Common Ground', at IGNCA.

Where do you draw inspiration from, and how do you bring your incredible imagination to your work? 

Desert people and desert places inspire me. My artistic practice has long been focused on the unique and fragile beauty of the world's most isolated desert landscapes and the peoples and cultures they cradle in their hearts. I have had many decades of research and fieldwork in the remote desert wilderness, from being an 'Expedition Artist' for ten years in central Australia to northern India and the American Southwest, environments seemingly harsh and inhospitable yet the birthplace of rich and diverse cultural creativity. Over many years I have come to know deserts intimately as sacred sites, sites of transformation, and mysterious lands which have always housed human imaginings. My work explores the extraordinary intrinsic value and interconnectedness of these special places through a particularly female perspective, distinct from the established historical archive of desert understanding. My paintings become a type of elegy, a tribute, a love song, extending the traditions of landscape painting and oral storytelling. Trees can talk - mountains can move - rivers bury secrets - grains of sand weave myth, knowledge and culture from past to present.

How does the environment you live in play into your paintings? Has your colour palette or style changed from living in northern New Mexico as opposed to Australia? 

I currently live and work in the desert of northern New Mexico, one of the most incredibly dramatic and artistically inspiring wilderness landscapes I have found. It is very rich in diverse cultural human history. I am constantly working 'en plein air' sketching and painting, working directly from the landscape around me, collecting as much information and field work as possible to take back to the studio. It is a remarkably similar landscape to many areas where I have travelled to and worked in Central Australia, which is why I feel so comfortable, and at home there. Simultaneously so similar and so distinctly different. As an artist, I constantly evolve, and my work changes according to my experience and education, which makes artists such restless people.

What do you love to do when you’re not painting?

I love exploring, hiking, camping and gardening. Anything I can do that gives me as much time outdoors in the natural wilderness landscape makes me happy.

What are you currently working on?

I have just arrived back in Australia to complete the logistics to instal my exhibition 'Deep in Land', which was exhibited at the Gallery of Contemporary Art (GOCA) at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS)  in the USA in May this year. I have now freighted to Sydney for Arthouse Gallery, opening on the 20th of October.


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All images of Jo have been captured by Thomas Studer.


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