Tell us a little bit about what you do.

I'm a visual artist who creates contemporary photography and installation. I often use analogue photographic processes such as pinhole photography, photographs and photomontage and devices such as camera obscuras to view nature and culture from multiple perspectives, using visual techniques of reversals and inversions as ways of investigating human relationships with nature, the politics of environment and links to my experience as a woman in these spaces.


You’ve just moved into one of our studio spaces in St. Leonards, how is the space affecting what you are creating?

Being at the studio has given me the opportunity to explore a new series I have been wanting to do for a while - creating photomontages. For years I have worked on a large scale, making pinhole images from cameras I have created out of objects such as a three-tonne truck, a water tank and now I have a 1950’s caravan camera obscura / pinhole camera. Through these projects, I have made many unique photographic negatives on beautiful archival analogue paper. Being at the studio in St Leonards is giving me the opportunity to take stock of 15 years of images, experiment and refine a new series I will show in 2021.


Is there something in particular that draws you to analogue photographic techniques?

The material quality of analogue photography, the process and the aesthetic. For me building cameras from trucks and caravans is a physical and sculptural challenge and working in the darkroom is peaceful, meditative and magical. The work I've been doing recently creating Seamonsters using the technique of contact prints/photograms with seaweed is spontaneous and full of imagination, it is endless and exciting the characters that emerge. The material trace of the seaweed is a collaboration with nature and then there is the alchemical process in the darkroom that brings a unique quality to the work.


When was the moment you realised that your creative practice was going to be your thing? And who in your life (at that time) thought that was a bad idea?

I remember creating a haiku poem in year 5 and that was the first time I really felt excited about creating. As a young teen, I got involved in youth theatre. Then I went to a senior college in high school that I could choose creative arts subjects and I studied visual art, photography, media, English and psychology, that was when I really connected to visual arts and realised that I had a passion for creating in this way.

I have been fortunate in that my family and friends have always been supportive of my connection to the arts. The only person in my life who has thought it was a bad idea (at times) has been me (ha ha) and that has been when things have been difficult. The scarcity in the industry and the exposing nature of creative practice can be challenging. Sometimes I need to take breaks, then I get instinctually compelled and that keeps me going as well as the buoyancy created by people who support my creative practice.


What’s the biggest challenge for you as an artist?

Effort does not always equal reward. I teach art and I am an artist. It seems the more effort I put into teaching the more reward I get, both in the relationships I develop, the knowledge I gain and impart, and the financial gain. As an artist the exchange of energy is not as equal, it is a bit cruel in that regard. It is more difficult.


So your day job is teaching, does it influence your creative practice?

Yes, as I mentioned I'm a visual art teacher at a senior college for the creative arts. I love teaching art to teenagers, sharing my passion for artists, art movements, materials and techniques this constantly feeds into my art practice. I also love teaching at a senior high school, adolescents are at a particularly special time of life, they are open to new ideas and into challenging ideas. It's exciting and daunting for them and I know the visual arts have a lot to offer the developing mind and spirit. My day job allows me to be constantly surrounded by art. Also working with my colleagues feels like working in an artist run space, they are really talented and we have a lot of fun.


What do you know now that you wished you had have known when you started?

Gender inequality will impact you in subversive ways, be vigilant.

The visual arts is a non unionised industry that is contract based, you need to demand your rights to self-care for remuneration, mental and physical health conditions. Utilise organisations like NAVA to learn frameworks and guidelines to protect yourself. Most industries have enterprise agreements that clarify workers rights but as a visual artist you need to be more aware and assertive of your rights.


You mentioned that your upcoming exhibition will be available online, can you tell us a bit more about how that will work?

I will be exhibiting with Rogue gallery in Redfern from 17 October for three weeks. The catalogue of works will be available at 

I was invited to show at Rogue by artist and friend Shannon Johnson and Gallery owner Diane Larter. Shannon is launching her solo show and new series of paintings Girls Screaming, Jessica O'Connor is also having a solo show titled Cut The Ending.

Diane Larter who owns the Gallery is the daughter of Australian art legends Pat and Richard Larter and is part of the Watters gallery legacy where she worked. Some of the artists from Watters are now shown at Rouge with Diane such as the art giants Reg Mombassa and Tony Tuckson.


Have you interacted with any other exhibitions digitally since Covid?

HeadOn Photo festival did a great job of going online this year, I actually got to attend more of it than usual. My photography classes attended a lot of the online artist talks. It was a very helpful teaching tool when we unexpectedly went to teach online this year.  I saw as much of NIRIN as possible online then in person when it opened back up.


You’re an art teacher, do you remember having any teachers who greatly influenced you when you were studying?

Many teachers at art school inspired me: Julie Rrap, Cherine Fahd, Joyce Hinterding, David Haines, Nigel Helyer. Also, I loved my high school art and photography teachers. Ray Snoad and Terry Moore, they both gave me a lot, Ray organised an excursion to Japan for us (a nightmare for her, party for us), it really was awesome to be so young and go overseas to look at woodblock prints, ceramics, visit sculpture parks and Shinjuku in Tokyo. I would love to take my students on a big trip. I would love to take them to the Garma festival in Arnhem land. I have had the opportunity to go and I know it would be a life changing experience for our students.

How are you going with teaching during Covid?

Going online brought with it some good things, we live stream more events and have more strategies in place to include students who need to work from home for mental and physical health reasons. But I have really sensitive ears so the audio when online teaching with headphones was making my ears scream.

Really the main thing is that we actually all prefer to be together, school is not just about content it's about learning to collaborate and develop social and emotional skills as well as content skills and knowledge. It is a community that can be online but I think works best face to face.  I really get a lot out of the time I spend with my students. I also love working in the photo studio, art materials and specialised equipment so I'm not rushing to teach online in the future.


What is one thing you now believe about the world that you didn’t before Covid?

I was honestly surprised that the government shut the economy down so hard to protect lives. It's sad but I really thought they would just let a lot more people die. That is just one simple thing I was pleasantly surprised about. Of course I would like more acknowledgment and support for the arts in this time.

I think Covid and the fires over the black summer in NSW has bought out a lot more compassion, I think we will need to double down on that compassion and empathy over the next few years. Things will be tough for people for a while.

What’s your earliest memory of having your photo taken?

Me as a baby in a highchair with a beer. 1970’s- geez !!!!


Who are you missing the most right now?

Gulliver and Marlow.

My friends have moved to QLD from Victoria. I am Gulliver’s aunty (community aunty.) Gully is immunosuppressed, he is recovering from a two-year battle fighting a brain tumour. Marlow is his little brother. I miss them, I'm looking forward to the border opening.



Claire Conroy’s exhibition Monstrous is at Rouge Pop-up Gallery - 130 Regent street Redfern. Covid-safe opening 17th October 11 am - 6 pm, continuing until 7th November