INTERVIEW: Corina Wyatt



From their hauntingly beautiful portraits to bold lashings of colour, we've long been fans of the work of Corina and Jack Wyatt, the Ballarat duo behind WYATTART.

We sat down with Corina to chat about her work, the challenges of being a creative and what it's like to collaborate with her life partner in crime. 

How did you start off, have you always been an artist?

No…I pretty much started painting when I met Jack, but he’s always painted.  He’s always created, whereas I’m the polar opposite, I can’t draw to save myself. If you asked me to draw something, I would break out in a cold sweat!

I always say he’s the real artist and I’m the person who paints like I paint because I can’t paint, and he says ‘Don’t you dare say that!’. But no seriously, that’s how I feel! He has this amazing eye for detail and colour. He sees light and shade, his whole life is light and shade whereas I express. I feel, I don’t think. I’ve learned that about who I am, and I guess that’s something that’s taken a lot of time to sit comfortably, and be at peace with what I do, rather than try and be something I’m not. 

You’re not from Ballarat originally. Why did you want to settle here?

I love the culture, I love the heritage and it’s got a really great art pulse about it. There’s a big creative community and there’s always something happening in Ballarat. I really think it’s culturally rich, and people really get it.

What’s the process when you and Jack collaborate? Do you both stand there at the same time…

Sometimes. Not all the time. It’s actually really fun. The last piece I created the background, let it dry, then Jack did the oil, but it’s a process that we do together. It’s really nice.

Are you often in the studio at the same time?

Yeah, a lot!

Do you talk to each other about each other’s work?

All the time. I think we’re so lucky to have that because we really do bring out the best in each other. It’s so nice to be musing off someone. Sometimes I know I need something, or I’m not sure what I need, or is it enough, or do I push a bit more...Jack does the same. I might say something like ‘Why don’t you push this little bit over here?’ or ‘the eyes are not quite right…’  or ‘what if you do this…’ We both know each other’s work so well now that it’s a fresh set of eyes. It’s amazing with artwork that the tiniest little mark can completely change a piece, and I think that’s really cool. 

Do you feel your work is always evolving and you’re constantly learning?

Yeah definitely, I think that’s what we both love about creating. Jack definitely goes in with a lot more direction than I do. He’ll have an image in mind and he knows what he’s doing, he’s very methodical. It’s quite hypnotic in the way he paints, it’s a really beautiful experience to see.

There’s so much amazing work out there, but I've been told my art’s too bright and too cheery…well, I’m proud of it and I’m not going to sit and here and worry that I need to have more doom and gloom. Different artworks have different sentiments for different reasons. The people who invest in what we do learn those stories and they connect. It’s nice to see people connecting to different works and to know what connects you to that particular piece. It’s not about ‘Did you sell it or didn’t you sell it?’, it’s about that moment that a viewer really connects to our work, and they’re the moments that get you excited and get you back into the studio. To have somebody say ‘It’s made me feel this or this’, it’s just mind blowing.

What do you find most challenging about creating?

My own headspace, I think. For me personally it’s because I am an expressionist. If the small things aren’t sitting right, whether it’s life, family or whatever, if that balance is off, my work will be moody. I’m mood-driven all the time.

My work’s usually quite bright and colourful and I think that’s probably a clearer representation of who I am. But my work can also be very textural and moody. I think the most challenging thing is probably getting past my own headspace and letting go.

Did you find the transition difficult from your previous work to what you you’re doing now? Was it scary?

I don’t really feel like this is a job, to be honest! It’s just something that we do. It’s nearly surreal. Our studio’s at home, it’s built off our house and has garden wrapped all around it. It’s only a small space.

It’s that perfect balance of life, kids, animals…it’s a really nice place to be creative

Why do you think a lot of people are a bit scared of transitioning into art as a full-time job?

Gee, that’s a good one, I’ve been that person. I think people expect you to fail. And I don’t say that lightly…I think it’s one of those cliche moments where a creative person’s going to get trapped, but trapped in here (points to her head), and then they’re trapped out there.

It’s that whole horrible old school mindset: “Ohhhhh, so you’re studying art? That’s nice…but what are you really going to do?” I have students come in all the time saying things like “I’m studying this, but…” There’s always a ‘but’. And I think the ‘but’ comes from society and parents…

…and expectations that are placed on you to have a career and earn lots of money…

"You may be good at art, but how are you going to survive?" We’re so good at throwing in a ‘but’, and it’s a word I just do not use.

What advice would you give to someone to overcome that way of thinking?

I think if you think positively and all that, that’s great, but if you don’t get off your arse and have a crack…there’s a fine line between timing, trust, confidence, all those things—I keep using the word ‘organically'—but you have to just focus on staying in the present. And it’s good to reflect on where you’ve come from, and not put too much pressure on yourself to be what other people think you should be. Nobody believes in what you do like you do. Nobody knows what you do like you do.

But the worse thing that can happen is that it takes you somewhere else. You can’t look at things as ‘failing’ or not working. As a creative, create. Go into a space and back yourself.

I always say to Jack that if we ever stopped loving what we do, if it ever becomes about selling, not creating, then it’s time to walk away. I never want to be that sort of person. I want to create because I need to. I don’t paint everyday. People think you should be painting every day, but my life doesn’t work like that. I create when I feel that I’m in the right place.