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Judi Louise SINGLETON (b.1963)

Judi Singleton was born in Hornsby, a suburb on Sydney’s Upper North Shore in 1963.  As a teenager, she moved to Melbourne,  became a self-taught artist and founding member of the famous ROAR Studios in June 1982. Located in the emerging avant-garde suburb of Fitzroy at 115A Brunswick Street Fitzroy, ROAR was where a young Judi Singleton worked as one of a group of about 20 painters wanting to make their mark.

The word “ROAR” itself was a play on “raw” and was coined by Judi’s friend and fellow painter, Sarah Faulkner. The name - together with the artists and their colourful unrefined styles – was coined to get people in Melbourne to sit up and take notice. And they did. Though short-lived, the ROAR collective was a great success.

Best known among those artists involved were David Larwill, Mark Schaller, Sarah Faulkner, Jill Noble, Andrew Ferguson, Karan Hayman, Mark Howson, Mike Nicholls, Pasquale Giardino, Peter Ferguson, Richard Birmingham - and Singleton.

As Christopher Hecate summed up in The Melbourne Age in 1982*, “ROAR was in every sense a social and stylistic reaction against the contemporary art establishment. The painters who exhibited there shunned the complacent lyrical abstraction and half-baked landscapes of their teachers.”

 As a ROAR, artist, Judi Singleton has an enduring place in Australian cultural life and is a part of its heritage. Her work is about the affirmation of life utilising joyous colour with distinctive use of paint in the “naïve” style and subject matter that reflects locality and nature: place, people, figures, buildings, the sea, birds and trees. To use Judi’s own phrasing, “with gesture and colour, I wish to create a modern piece”. **

Judi has spent her life as a professional artist and holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Fine Art (Ceramics) from Monash University (Peninsula Campus); she has taught painting and ceramics over many years.

After two decades working as an artist in Melbourne and holding solo and group shows, Judi made a “sea change” and settled on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria’s south east. Making the transition from city life, to the Peninsula – not too far from the sea – the ocean is one of her regular subjects. She works from her residence in a studio filled with light behind the house in a leafy garden.

“The colours I use, and my symbols derive from everyday life and experience of recently having children and living by the sea has directly influenced the subject,” she said of her work in 2004 ***

Of the location and her work, Singleton said, “There are a lot of layers. It’s a bit like a visual diary. It’s a journey for me as well.”***

After a recent illness and her recovery, Judi created ‘Re-emergence’ a series of paintings exploring that journey and her return to the art world. Today Singleton is an acclaimed expressionist painter and ceramicist.  She won the Shepparton Art Gallery Ceramics Prize in  both 1991 and 1992, and the Sorrento Religious Art Prize in 2000. Judy Singleton is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra ACT: Artbank: Parliament House Canberra, ACT: and many private Australian collections.

* Extract from Christopher Hecate, The Age 1982 quoted in “Artists unite from roaring 80s” by Gabriella Coslovich The Age 23 February 2011

** Program Notes - “Colourvision” St Kilda Melbourne 1 November 2011

*** Mary O’Brien, ”The Art of the Sea Change” The Age 3 May 2006

by Wordmakers 2018. 


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