Continually seen as a style throughout art history, Still Life reigns as a popular concept in contemporary art — using everyday objects to connect art to life.

For this Art at Home edit, we look at the practices of nine artists who draw on elements of the world around them — from traditional floral arrangements and fruit to teacups and empty bear bottles.

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Anne-Marie Zanetti

Uncanny in their depictions, Brisbane-based artist Anne-Marie Zanetti’s Still Life paintings add luxe and glamour to piles of fruit. Drawing on the old masters, the artworks allude to timeless aspects of Still Life, ephemeral reminders of the everyday. Yet, the high contrast colours and light add depth of meaning to regular simplicity.

Julie Davidson

Capturing radiant qualities of light, Julie Davidson fuses Western theories of Still Life art with Taoist calligraphy paintings. Her artworks depict the fleeting moments of floral arrangments, posing aesthetic meditative reflections. “Still life invites us to meditate on beauty, morality and truth,” Julie says. Based in Melbourne, Julie has been musing on these notions since the ea’00s’00s and recently held a sell-out show at Flinders Lane Gallery.

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Julian Meagher

Sydney-based artist Julian Meagher captures the landscape and Still Life in his oeuvre; however, both pose reflections on Australia. His Still Life paintings appear in a dreamy tonal palette that at first hold sensitive, romantic energy but on closer inspection, reveal abandoned beer bottles found at the bottom of Sydney Habour. Julian adds a commentary on toxic masculinity ingrained in a shared Australian history within this.

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Isobel Clement

Using a colour palette of soft greys, blues, and white, Melbourne-based Isobel Clement’s artworks are quiet and still. The geometric composition links Isobel’s paintings to Still Life art of the 1920s and 30s, both in Bauhaus Europe and locally in modernist Australia. Anchoring her practice in Australia’s art history, Isobel’s artworks are held in the National Gallery of Australia, the Australian Print Workshop Archive, Art Bank Australia and The Bundanon Trust.

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Simon Barlow

Hypnotic folds of luscious blooms entice the audience into Simon Barlow‘s oeuvre. Inspired by the natural world and its repeated cycles of life and death, Simon captures the surrealist beauty of delicate ecosystems, inviting influence from traditional notions of Still Life paintings by the great Baroque artist Caravaggio. “The ‘organs of reproduction’ of plants, they sprout, bloom and die, representing the cycle of life and every earthly organism’s mortality,” Simon attests.

Sam Michelle

New Zealand artist Sam Michelle’s artworks evoke nostalgia for Margaret Preston’s Still Life paintings with three-dimensional objects rendered in a flat, graphic style, captured in a pastel colour palette. The now Melbourne-based artist sources inspiration from local florists and nurseries, plus her garden, positioning her work as memories of the time they were created while connecting with Australian art history and the women artists who came before her.

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Margaret Ackland

Musing on everyday life found in newspapers, online media, and her own surroundings, Sydney-based Margaret Ackland depicts teacups, florals, and little glass bottles in freehand watercolours. Working directly onto the paper allows for layers of paint, each stroke holding energy.

The artist reveals, ‘my work takes as its reference observations both large and small, profound and whimsical — I document the many small moments that fill the narrative of a life, as well as continuing to reference events that shape our understanding of this often bewildering world.’

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