Cindy Durant | Land And Sea
For the rest of May, Well Made focuses on artists living and working in regional South Australia. Our first profile is Cindy Durant, glass and mixed media artist based in Penong on SA’s west coast and recipient of Country Arts SA’s 2016 Breaking Ground Professional Development Award. A keen surfer and lover of wide-open spaces, Cindy talks about her inspirations from the land to the sea.
Can you tell us about where you are based?
I am about 800 kilometres west of Adelaide on the far west coast, between Penong (on the Eyre Highway) and the beach and just before the start of the Nullarbor Plain. The landscape is gorgeous, it’s arid and flat but we live on a hill about 4 km to the ocean. We overlook big giant sand dunes and salt lakes and can see the horizon of the beach. I live with my husband Bruce with regular visits from our son Dylan. We are all surfers and love living very close to one of Australia’s iconic surfing spots, Cactus Beach.
What has attracted you to work regionally?
I’m not regional I’m remote! I started coming here on holidays and every time I came I loved the place. I’ve always lived in crowded cities where property has been very expensive. I was attracted to the wild openness and we could actually afford to purchase 7000 acres together with some friends. We’ve since separated the titles and now have 2000 acres - which is basically a kangaroo wild life park. We’ve planted trees and have let the native flora go, which has encouraged wildlife to return.
It’s so peaceful here, it inspires my work and I’m influenced by what’s around me. I’m not bombarded by the imagery of the city, the advertising and constant stimulation. What I do miss out on though is regular access to internet and communications (we have no mobile coverage) and shipping materials to here costs a fortune.
Can you describe your studio and what is out your window?
Outside my window today I see blue sky with wispy white clouds - and a wind generator. We are completely off-grid with electricity provided by solar and wind and our water supply is rainwater. My kilns are run on LPG gas. It’s challenging, but I feel really good about it as I have to think about what I’m doing and what resources I will be using. Most people are out of touch with this and don’t think where their power or water is coming from. May and June are a struggle because there is a lot of cloud cover and no wind. I’m currently doing heat-setting on t-shirts and this time of year I need to turn the generator on.
My studio is a shed with several rooms coming off of it and it’s very secure to keep mice and snakes out. There is a kiln building which houses 2 gas kilns and I have a messy area for machinery work. We've built a new home, so I also work in our original house, this is a big area where I do my jewellery and glass work and have storage space. I have mentored people here in my studio and artists come and stay and have a whole studio to themselves. It’s great to have so much room and it does keep growing, mainly because Bruce is always finding ways to expand the roof to capture more rainwater.
What are you currently working on?
Every workbench has a project on it - screen printing t-shirts for an order; glass samples for a commission; jewellery projects of enamel and silver pendants and brooches. I prefer to work on one project for a month, then pack it away then work on something else for the next month or two.
I originally started with glass and then branched out, mainly to broaden my opportunities for sales. Everything I sell is from my own hands and I have been fortunate with steady commissions from repeat clients over the years. I am currently working on a window commission for a client who has come back to me after 15 years. Some clients have seen my work in a gallery and then contact me for a commission. I really enjoy local commissions and I’ve created original works for surfers and fishermen from the beach. I’ve got into t-shirts recently as I have a captive audience of tourists through the Penong General Store.
How do you exhibit and distribute your work?
It’s become difficult over the years because of transport. I used to be able to freight works for exhibition on a bus from Perth to Adelaide, but that service doesn’t run anymore. Lots of my glasswork has been broken in freight, so I have to be very selective about exhibiting. I try to show a couple of times a year, but it’s difficult to sell. I used to show in 14 galleries around Australia, but most of them have closed. My clientele base is now mainly businesswomen who want a one off or limited edition unique piece.
I do sell jewellery at T'arts Collective in Gays Arcade (Adelaide Arcade) and Purple Cockatoo in Norwood. Last year I was in a show during SALA at Art Images curated by Annabelle Collett and a solo exhibition Layer at Artspace Adelaide Festival Centre, which resulted from the Country Arts SA Award. My work is also included in the Country Arts SA exhibition Craft Anonymous which has been touring throughout 2016 & 2017.
What is your dream creative project?
To make something out of the old cars that have died on the property, a ginormous sculpture that would sit at the front to greet our visitors and amuse the tourists and locals as they drive by.
Visit Cindy Durant's full profile on Well Made.
To read more about Durant's 2016 Breaking Ground Professional Development Award and exhibition at Adelaide Festival Centre read John Neylon's article in The Adelaide Review.
Images (banner image): Cindy Durant, 2016, holding Urchin Bowl outside of studio. Photographer Bruce Durant. Images (top to bottom): Beach, 2016, glass, kiln formed, textural, screen print, 32 pieces 140 x 200 x 5mm each, hanging size 710 x 2000 x 15mm. Photographer Grant Hancock; Jetty Red, 2016, glass, kiln formed textural screen print, set of 8 pieces of glass 290 x 235 x 4mm each. Photographer Grant Hancock; Mermaid's Collection, 2013, cast glass, lamp worked glass, fine & sterling silver. Various sizes. Photographer Cindy Durant; T'arts Collective, window display Cindy Durant, featured artist, February 2017. Image courtesy Cindy Durant.