I have always envied artists who have a definitive style.  One where you can look at the image and instinctively know – “that’s a so and so” like an artist I follow in Instagram that paints bread!  For the longest time, I was convinced that that is what made someone an artist or more so, that’s why I was not one.  No particular style.  Whenever people ask me about an exhibition, and by people I mean my friends, I would always answer that I hadn’t really committed to a style.  This is the first thought and the story I told myself about why none of my works were selected for the Outback Art Prize – questioning my style and sense of belonging – a basic human need.

I started asking myself “what IS my scene”?   The answer I gave myself was “honey, who want’s to know?” and then I recognized a characteristic of myself.

When I was at high school, I was a bit of a floater between the cliques – perhaps less time with the sporty or dancer/model types.  Where I’d spend my lunchbreaks was determined by which homework I needed help with, who’s regular seating place was closest to my next class – sometimes I’d play the odds in favour of who may have the best uneaten lunch items! Also the days that would watch Young Talent Time every Saturday night before morphing into a pretend grown up and illegally going to night clubs.

I love different genres of music. Despite the mocking and peer pressure, I love country music where I think the most beautiful stories are told.  When I’m writing my university papers, I always listen to Pavarotti because it makes me feel smarter, a winning combination that has worked so well it is now a habit.  Sometimes, I like to do the dishes and dance around the kitchen to my old ‘90s R&B tunes or see if I can still remember the Thriller moves when the video comes on TV (let’s just say my mind remembers but the body don’t play).  My go to tunes for a road trip singalong is an entirely different playlist again and different to my traffic light concert songs on the rare occasion that I’m alone in the car.

My favourite foods would be Asian influenced noodles, dumplings, sashimi and these days a good Thai or Indian curry but due to PTSD from $2 all you can eat buffet at the Raptis Plaza during schoolies week – I would never choose Chinese food of my own accord.  Having said that I’m an Island girl at heart and will be equally impressed by a fresh seafood platter as a bag of prawns.  Living in the desert, I dream of Crustaceans restaurant on the wharf in Darwin or Villa Romana in Cairns.

My point is that I cannot see a day where I would commit to one artistic style over the other, one cuisine, one music or movie genre, or one particular personality type to befriend. I have learned that one is more inclined to do more of what one is good at and that perhaps will determine the style in the future, like wearing a colour or item of clothing that receives most compliments, therein builds confidence, influences a personal clothing style.

I’m learning to be comfortable in my own scene and how that comes out on the canvas on any given day is a lovely surprise. At present, the only desire I have for anyone else to appreciate what I do is solely related to the fact that I don’t have the space to keep or hang everything I create in my house.  This week I’m practicing shadows using black and white reference images of inspirational women.

Now that the Hoodoo Gurus are stuck in your head – what’s your scene?

Natasha Lavai xo

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