Arts Atlas In Conversation Series… Meet Deb Gartland

Posted 1 October 2020

Arts Atlas In Conversation Series… Meet Deb Gartland

The Arts Atlas “In Conversation Series” aims to encourage and inspire people across the arts sector by giving individuals the opportunity to share and talk about their creative professions. The series is about sharing uplifting stories during these unprecedented times.

This week we are excited to launch the second conversation with Deb Gartland.

Tell us about yourself.

Deb Gartland is a self-taught traditional and contemporary fine art photographer, who has a head full of high falutin’ ideas! Her photography took off after a trip to Tasmania, the instant gratification of digital photography saw her artistic bent move in a different direction. She taught herself how to use several different post processing software programs and from very early on has been pushing herself to break the rules, challenge boundaries and create vastly different images with her photography. Deb purchased the Gellibrand River Gallery which has given her the capacity to concentrate on moving her image creation and photography to a more professional and contemporary level.

Tell us about your work and what inspires you?

The world around us is a photographic wonderland! Her photography is highly eclectic and ranges from macro, portraiture, and landscapes to still life, abstract and experimental. Her work has been highly successful at national and international Salons and Exhibitions. Deb combines her photography with encaustics by printing on rice/matte papers. Some prints are created through placement between painted layers of molten encaustic medium (beeswax/dammar resin mix). Using pastels, oil pigment sticks and shellac burning in between and over the top of layers, Deb enhances or removes the depth, colour, and features of the imagery. Metal pieces, lace and feathers add yet another dimension.

Encaustic Mix Media Painting

What has been the most exciting part so far in your creative journey?

Miniature Melbourne Encaustic Mix Media Painting

Deb attended an Encaustic workshop three years ago and has never looked back. While the absolute love of photography and the creation of illustrative images is still there (and still practiced), she has truly found her medium.The beginning of 2019 saw Deb set up her Encaustic workshop in the Gallery, where she works and collaborates with another artist. This move had seen Deb’s photo encaustic and mixed media works take yet another turn enabling her to create works that are left-of-field, confront viewers and challenge traditional boundaries. 2019 also saw Deb win the inaugural Australian Contemporary Photography Award (ACPA) – through the Australian Photographic Society (APS) and Magnet Galleries in the Docklands, Melbourne – with a photo-encaustic and mixed media piece titled “Self-Reflection”. This acquisitive award came with an $8,000 prize for the overall win and a $2,000 prize for the best entry by a member of the APS. For Deb, this was also a ‘breakthrough’ in recognition of photography as art and as holding a valued place in mixed media compositions.

What impact has COVID had on your creative process? 

Artistically, the ‘C-Word’ has had a dual and opposing effect on Deb’s creative process. Having to close the Gellibrand River Gallery to the general public, mainly due to her suppressed immune system and not wanting to take any risks, left Deb (and the artists she sells for) with one less sales avenue. The lack of contact with her community and other artists left Deb feeling isolated, disconnected, and although inspired, somewhat unmotivated.

However over the most recent lock down period Deb has been back creating art, practicing photography and once again inviting her community and friends to share her enthusiasm.

She began a weekly challenge with a close friend in Stage Four Melbourne lock down: now in its tenth week. Each week Deb or her friend email through one of their own photographs and each can do whatever they like with – the aim being to remain inspired and connected, improve digital art skills, and to regularly create illustrative composites!

Do you have an online presence where we can follow you?


Do you have an inspiring professional practice and would you like to join the In Conversation Series?


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