DIANELLA artist Stormie Mills never meant to keep local fans of his work in suspense over the three years since his last Perth exhibition.
However, the Greenhill Galleries decision to close its Claremont space to operate solely online was a game changer and meant Mills lost his Perth gallery representation.
He has since travelled extensively for shows in Sydney, Melbourne, LA, Miami and the UK, with additional projects in New York and LA, before opening multidisciplinary creative space There Is in Northbridge last month with wife Melissa Lekias.
There Is will present Things That Go Bump In the Night, an exhibition of original works by Mills inspired by Halloween, opening on October 30.
“I’d sort of noticed there’s been this growth of Halloween in Perth over the last few years,” Mills said.
“Obviously it’s been there for a long time but it seems to have gathered momentum; there’s a good synergy between a lot of the characters I paint and Halloween.”
Mills said while he painted the works, using new techniques to challenge his artistic practice, he contemplated Australia’s tendency to readily adopt other cultures and other people’s imagery and iconography without necessarily understanding them or their cultural significance.
“It becomes this twisted version of itself in some respects,” he said.
“I guess it has strong parallels with my work; being a kid seeing graffiti on television and in movies with no one to teach me what it meant. When I went to New York in the mid ’80s I saw graffiti on trains, met graffiti writers who did it and came away realising what I thought it was about was totally different.”
Mills said his latest canvases were covered with some aspects of familiarity, while other works were quite different in methodology.
“There’s a piece in there called Collective Moments which I really like as a work itself but there’s a lot more text in it than most people would have seen me do. And some of the portraiture is a bit more realistic than I’ve done,” he said.
Despite these changes, the darkness is still there.
“I’ve worked in many different jobs and in some of those positions I’ve seen a lot of the darker side of life,” he said.
“I guess I’m looking for some kind of understanding as to why all this happens.
“And looking for the upside and where we get our sense of spirit from; why do we keep going when everything tells us to lie down and give up? I’m looking for that understanding, that sense of hope.”