Pop art meets fashion in the multi-hyphenate creative space that makes up Dina Broadhurst’s mind. For the last decade, the Sydneysider has been redefining what wall art is with her multimedia collages and installation work that has caught the adoration of thousands. Perhaps you’ve spotted her iconic Louis Vuitton scarf floating in turquoise waters? Or the quirky orchid-faced characters beachside from Ladies in Waiting? Remix editor Amber Baker caught up with the artist to chat inspirations, intentions and nudity.
You’re such a successful artist...is this where you thought you’d end up?
Thank you so much! I definitely knew I would end up in something creative and I was always very confident in my own style and who I was as a person, I had no insecurities going against the grain or being true to my quirks, often just self training and teaching myself. I was very comfortable in my own skin, and always cresting or making something with my hands, drawing, pasting, painting, building, collecting things, in any spare time and on weekends. Although my mind is constantly in a state of creativity, ideas and absorbing information to build on my ideas, my day to day working life as an artist does have a lot of times that involve a lot of other non creative parts that are needed to run a successful business. I am so blessed that I enjoy every single part that makes my career as an artist run as a whole, it’s my passion that truly drives me.
How do you think your Australian childhood / teenhood influenced your career today?
My childhood was very outdoorsy, living by the water, always in the sun and nature. Growing up I was encouraged by my parents to be who I wanted to be and to feel comfortable enjoying time on my own discovering playing learning and growing. My crazy ideas were always supported and my mind racing with ideas was never forced to stop. I was always very autonomous never needing to be told what to do and always applied and threw myself into any ideas I dreamed up. I was always hunting, editing, playing with different styles, discovering and learning. Constantly doing mental puzzles at the journey of life including my emotions. I was also around adults a lot and always welcomed as part of either the boys or the girls interests and experiences. I had an amazing open childhood and always felt a sense of freedom and individuality, my own voice always able to be expressed, and I always felt such a sense of belonging with my family.
Summarise your art style in one sentence...
My art is an exploration of desire, allure and beauty, editing and adding to create a new message to lure to viewer into a new way of seeing and unearthing what lies beneath.
You are one of the most talked about artists in 2021, particularly this side of the world, but which original art piece rocketed you into the art scene?
I would have to say Ladies In Waiting, such a true example of my style, it’s very pop, dramatic, full of hope, playfulness, mystery and satire.
Who or what inspires your luxurious pop-art style work?
I am hugely inspired by other artists Andy Warhol, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, Urs Fischer, Jeff Koons, Viviane Sassen and Tyler Shields and all the surrealist masters. Personally I am inspired by my own journey through life, my intimate relationships, and nature and my surrounds. Seeing new things is the most exciting things for me but at my core I am a true recluse. So finding the balance to get out of my comfort zone to see discover and experience is always a challenge and always such a gift from my partner to push me.
From layers of glitter and orchids to luxury packaging floating in the ocean... what can we expect you to experiment with next? And why?
My themes of glitter and shiny objects is constant as it is my material that speaks to me about reflection and reflecting. Flowers are so fascinating to me. Their delicacy, their beauty, the beauty they still hold as they age and wither. The true colours in nature. Of fruits of leaves, the shapes, the textures, it’s like one giant paint box ready to use. And water, because of its fluidity, ever changing, unable to be tamed or caught, the feeling on your body of weightless freedom. And the luxury world of fashion and presentation, packaging, experience, desire, allure, all the emotions played upon. These things will always be my themes and triggers but I want to experiment with more abstraction, more juxtaposition and more deterioration to show the beauty is more just in the fresh plump bright pop of a perfect bloom but also in the falling, drying, muting of the colours over time as they wilt and wither. The perfection in the imperfect.
How do you want people to feel when observing your art? Do they have individual intentions?
I want people to constantly rediscover and uncover the piece. I love seeing things that present themselves over time, starting with the most obvious messages and slowly uncovering the deeper messages over time. Depending on our own emotions or experiences over time, to uncover a new way of seeing something. Also to trigger memories or create memories through my art including a time when your bought it or discovered it and how it made you feel. That memory will always be triggered again and again when you experience the piece.
Tell us about the creative process… is it photograph, then experiment with collage until you make magic? Or do you see it before you’ve even begun?
It’s definitely a process that slowly comes together over time like a jigsaw puzzle. I collect source material, vintage pieces, rubbish from walks, pieces from nature, and I hang on to them. Sometimes they get filed in my studio, sometimes they het placed around my home as a decoration, sometimes they immediately become a digital file and get filed away on my computer. Then one day I will just see some pieces that I might have had for years or months and just know that they belong together. Other times I am so in love with a piece like a flower or a crushed can that I want to use it straight away and I try and try but when it’s forced I find it never works the same. But those times of forcing and things not working and frustration are as valuable times to me as the time when I just can’t stop smiling at how great I think something is. As both are growth and both make me feel so alive. Sometimes the works I love are not even the ones loved my others. All I know is I just love making all of it as it takes me on an emotional journey within and that’s whatnot is all about.
Do you remember the lightbulb moment when you decided to create your first mixed media artwork? How did it all happen?
I have always just covered things and torn things up and rearranged them and I think it just slowly slowly progressed. From when I was a little girl my family have all these cards I used to make for family birthdays and Xmas and that’s where it all started. These cards were so intricate. With instructions, pouches with hidden surprises, cut outs, 3D elements and effects. Things that popes out when you opened the envelope. The journey and the surprise was what I loved about these. And I loved making them. I even used to sign them and put the copyright symbol on the back of each card ha!
You take self-portraits and selfies as part of your work, is self-timer your best friend in these instances? How do you manage composition/framing without being behind the lens?
In using myself as a subject as well as being behind the lens gives me ultimate freedom so a self timer really is an amazing tool as is a simple mirror. To be able to show sides you want to show, stories you want to tell, instances you want to capture and hold onto. Sometimes the composition is very thought out and set up and It takes a lot of time to get it right and continually move and check where you are at and then try to get back in the same positions. And other times it’s more spontaneous and pushing myself to break out of my usual style and not worry about the result so much and just see what it brings.
There’s a bit of nudity too, other than for the love of the female form, can you tell us why that’s a recurring theme?
Ultimately it’s a sense of freedom, of clothing and style not overtaking the work, of simplicity, of rawness of nature and of being at one with yourself. It’s a documentation of really looking at myself and seeing how far I’ve come and in a way it kind of allows me to see through myself and look within. It’s that rawness and that acceptance. It also does bring forward an element of sexuality of being alive, of seeing yourself how another might experience you, and it makes you feel alive.
Living in a digital world, where technology is always improving, are you ever worried about copycats or stolen work?
If work is stolen it is never the real thing so even though it may look the same it’s not from me or signed by me so I’m effect it holds a different value or little value and always will so I never let it worry me.
Instagram... do you hate to love it or love to hate it?
I absolutely love it. It has created every opportunity for me to reach a global audience with such ease and with direct access.
Do you have a personal favourite piece... and why?
I love the piece Watermelon, it’s a self portrait and it just hold so much emotion for me and the tones and so rich and deep.
You have an eclectic interior taste, is this a reflection of your artwork? Does one influence the other?
Absolutely. I love kitsch, I love vintage. I love pop. I love contemporary photography, I love fashion. I love natural organic materials. I love things that show age and have a story or history. And I love mixing it all together to create irony, interest and unexpected surprises. I’m also always about changing up my interiors often. Walking around my collections and my life story experiencing it around me inspires me always. So thins needs to be constant moved, refreshed, to constantly play and reinvigorate me.
Being so big on instagram (which only portrays a small % of your life) do you believe there are any misconceptions about you and/or your work?
Probably yes. People may think that I don’t have down days or hard times as I don’t show that side on my Instagram. I have no trouble expressing that is the case to my family friends and anyone that asks. And I know nothing is perfect and no one has the perfect life or emotions. Life is full of ups and down and trying to find the balance is so incredibly hard. But I don’t want my Instagram to be about that. It’s about my work and some things I do in my off time to feel good. It’s a mood board and space of inspiration and good feels. It’s not an accurate representation of life but I don’t say that’s that what it is. It is my gallery space online basically.
Your pieces are all beautiful and feel high-fashion… have you ever created something you didn’t like, or felt like it was too dark and it went unprinted?
I like my whole range of work, to the pop light hearted hopeful playful pieces to the more abstract and experimental pieces and also the very dark pieces. I make it all and I show it all. But what sells and what is liked by someone is not in my control. Art is so personal. What someone wants to live with in their space or collect is totally open to them to choose from my whole range of work. There is definitely work that I don’t like but I guess I don’t show what I don’t like. Sometimes I destroy it or paint over it or change it. Then sometimes I look back and I love what I had destroyed and can’t get it back. Art is based so much on emotion. I have recently even googled how to remove layers of paint off a canvas to get back an old work I hated that I now have decided I love in hindsight. So my lesson now is if your hate it don’t listen to yourself. Just file it out of the way for later. Even to have it as a marker of time or place you were at. I will value having kept this later.
I know your art is popular with high profile individuals… any names we might know?
I don’t think it’s right to mention other peoples names but for every single person that owns my art I am continually grateful.
Is your life relatively fast paced or creative and slow?
So fast paced I wish I had 3 of me.
How would you describe your personal style…
simple, comfortable, relaxed, pared back, sometimes a bit sexy, mostly very casual.
Since the upcoming edition of Remix is all about Passion, we’d like to know what fuels your artistic passion the most?
Emotion, the need to escape into myself or nature, the excitement of seeing or experiencing something new, colour, feeling, love and self love.