INTERVIEW: Shani Fincham
Tegan Tucker | On 09, Feb 2016
â€œIâ€™ve used my art to finally get to a stage where I one-hundred per cent love who I am, for all of my flaws and differences. And without the study of my body through this medium I wouldnâ€™t be who I am today.â€
Working as a barista at Tobyâ€™s Estate, Shani Finchamâ€™s love for art is ever present. Her art is featured on the cafÃ©â€™s A-frames, and should you sit down for a drink, youâ€™re likely to receive an intricate pattern created in the foam of your latte. Navigating her way through Brisbaneâ€™s art community, Shani has an ever growing following on Instagram, never afraid to venture from the norm and creating a name for herself as a notable talent to watch in coming years.
Exploring abstract realism and the human body, Shaniâ€™s art folio presents bodies of work that reach across styles and use bold visuals to evoke emotions, existing outside any boundaries. Her art presents a rawness and honesty that speaks volumes as to how much of herself she puts into each piece, resulting in stunning images that reflect a strong talent that continues to grow.
Pairing with fellow artist Jarad Danby, Shaniâ€™s latest body of work will be featured in Dudes and Nudes at Bean on George Street on February 12th. Last week, The Creative Issue caught up with the artist to speak about her art, the Brisbane art community and what to expect from Dudes and Nudes.
Who is Shani Finch?
Who is Shani Finch, what a question. I’m only twenty-one so while I think I can answer that, I will probably look back on this stage in life and laugh. I was born in Cairns and lived there until I was eighteen, and had the typical teenage story. I was overweight, awkward, and very uncomfortable with myself. I dealt with bullying, depression and self hate. Luckily for me I’ve always dug art, and it’s always been my escape, recently I’ve used my art to finally get to a stage where I 100% love who I am, for all of my flaws and differences. And without the study of my body through this medium I wouldn’t be who I am today.
Were you always aware that you wanted to pursue art?
I’ve always been an artist, my parents are to thank for that. Art was never dismissed as a legitimate career choice and they always supplied as much as they could to nurture my passion.
How would you describe your style?
My art is ever changing within the problems and sadness I face in life and grows with me as I grow as a person. The style I’ve been leaning towards over the last year I’d probably describe as abstract realism. The perspective and details are realistic but I like to be free with my art, with fluid movement and colours that aren’t accurate but more depictive of emotions.
Do you have any preferred themes to the content you create?
I’ve never been very fussed on conceptual art. Mainly focusing on improving my skills through a process based approach. My recent body of work is maybe the first thing I’ve ever done that really means anything. My female form studies have explored the beauty in flaws, the sexuality of women and the power we have that is so often unrealised. These studies occurred to help me love myself, but I’m secretly hoping other females feel the same when they see them.
Would you say you build a lot of your art around personal experiences? Do you have a muse?
As I said before, my work isn’t ever really conceptual, so while my personal experiences are important for motivating me to create, they do not directly influence what I produce.
I wouldn’t say I have a muse, I do like to surround myself with creatives though. My best friend Clair is a writing student and a great person to bounce ideas off, as is Jarad. He’s been great for helping me know when to stop/what to add to complete my pieces. The person I collaborate most with is my friend Kasper though, he’s an amazing artist and I am influenced by his work very often.
What made you and Jarad decide to pair up for Dudes and Nudes? Have you know each other a long time?
Jarad and I met through a mutual Facebook friend actually. I saw he was posing with one of his works in his profile picture so I messaged him with my support of how rad his work is. Jarad wanted to experience more exhibitions and I’d only just moved back to Brisbane so I was super keen to team up with someone so we both went on the hunt for places who would have us. I was and continue to be very excited about the mixture of our two styles, I find that opposites attract and personally I find them very complimentary.
As a Brisbane-based artist, what do you think of the art community here?
The art community in Brisbane is a lot larger than people on the outside think it is. Generally everyone is super supportive of each other, which is rad.
You really put your art into everything you do, in terms of your coffee art and the drawings you do for the signage at your work. Have you found that’s helped you in any way?
I’m a very observant person and I grew up watching the people around me not enjoying their chosen professions of lifestyle. When I finished high school I decided that money is not something that I ever going to come before happiness in my life. I didn’t plan on being a barista, but when I discovered it I grew an immediate love. Making coffee is both a science and an art combined, which is such a rare and beautiful thing. Not only are the A-frames something I really enjoy doing (my puns and dad jokes need to escape my brain somewhere), it is a subtle way of advertising who I am and what I do. And the exposure has been awesome.
Ideally, where would you see yourself ending up with your art?
I’m actually currently using all money that I make from my art to fund a trip to Europe, the UK where I plan to fall in love with the culture and see where that takes me as an artist. Ideally I’d just love to be able to fund my exploration of the world and to show my stuff to as many people as possible.
What is your favourite piece that you’ve created for Dudes and Nudes?
My favourite piece from this show is a portrait I did of myself that is super raw and exposed and I feel like it just says so much about me as a person and as an artist.
Is there any artist that particularly inspires you?
My favourite artists are Norman Lindsay and Marlena Dumas.
What is your favourite artwork from another artist?
My favourite piece of by Norman Lindsay and itâ€™s titled Adventure.
Is there anything you dislike about the art community/industry?
It might just be a personal view but the art community is kind of like a school lunchroom, and you’re the new kid. Lots of cliques and no room for new members.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve ever been given? Or would give to another?
It’s so cheesy but just do what makes you happy. Life is too short for a boring job, a shitty friend, bad sex or any sort of concern about what you look like.
Do you know what is next for you yet?
I’m trying to cram in as much as I can in Brisbane in the next six months or so. I’d love to get as much of my work into people’s homes as I can while still having some kind of a social life.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about Dudes and Nudes? The event on Facebook has gained a lot of attention, are you nervous/excited for the night?
Just how happy I am about how supportive and excited all of mine and Jarad’s friends and Instagram followers are. I’m so keen to see it all come together and to have a beer or ten. We’ve both worked really hard and I think we’ve earnt a bit of a party.
Dudes and Nudes opens Friday, February 12, 7.30pm at Bean on George Street.
Find Shani and Jarad on Instagram as @shanifinch and @danby_art.