Libby Mitchell is a multidisciplinary artist residing in Aotearoa. Having completed an Advanced Diploma of Visual Art in Melbourne, Australia, she now travels New Zealand as a landscape artist, taking inspiration for her Art from the bush and her time working as a landscaper in Northland. She captures the sense of serenity within immersive landscapes, bush-scenes and New Zealand wildlife through colourful paintings, intricate charcoals, thought provoking photography, mixed media and installations.
Libby’s style has developed over years spent circumnavigating Australia and Aotearoa, constantly taking note of her surroundings and the variety of landscapes. She associates her colour palette with smells, sounds, memories and emotions.
Libby has developed her most recent series of paintings from numerous outdoor sketches and panoramic photography, capturing the essence of the Northland bush. Having spent much time exploring New Zealand’s stunning bush, forests and emotive landscapes, Libby draws on these calming native surrounds for her inspiration. Her strong affinity for colour has her working intuitively and confidently with an extensive palette and strong brush strokes that together have become a signature of her work.
"Humans are in fact the endangered species, because we have stepped out of nature."
- David Sheldrick.
Wildlife and the environment has always been something that fuels me and my practice. Before I started painting landscapes, there had always been a lingering feeling I had struggled to put into words for so long when I was completely alone in amongst nature. It took one word to change my life as I knew it - immersion.
My colour palette to me is a reflection of my own deeply personal experiences of feeling completely immersed in nature. There was a moment in Karijini National Park, Western Australia, at dusk when was no one else around. Suddenly I was just so overcome by this intense feeling of just sheer joy. It reverberated over my whole body. It's still so clear in my mind and to this day was undoubtedly the happiest moment in my life. I will never forget that feeling. I still can’t put it into words that do it justice to this day. I spent months trying to recreate that feeling.. until I visited the NGV Triennal 2018, Melbourne and a specific artwork by Alexandra Kehayoglou, gave me the closest thing to that feeling since that experience. I knew then it was possible to make Art that has the potential to intertwine with the sensations we get from the natural world. A far bigger understanding that anything I’ve known before.
I associate my colour palette with memories, sounds, smells.. the sensations of touching everything around me, feelings and emotions. I love the romance, the colours and smells of the bush.. it's always such a sublime feeling. There is something to be said on how different the experience of being amongst old forests is, compared to that of young tree plantations. I guess you could call it a meditative experience. People have different interpretations of meditation, everyone's is unique. Mine is touching the leaves, absorbing the textures of the earth, listening to all those different sounds water can make as it runs down a stream, the symphony of a breeze amongst the trees.. I can just sit for hours and observe all those amazing chemical reactions in my body, of being completely present. It's the only time my mind is ever truly free.
I've definitely found Art has saved me in a sense that I often feel the world around me is falling apart. While the worldwide population continues to grow - wildlife suffers and forests are demolished to make way for housing and farming, the need for conservation is at an all time high. Having that damage presented to us countless times a day via media or some form of screen, it's undeniably traumatic. It wasn't until recently in my Art Therapy studies I discovered people can suffer PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) as a result of environmental damage. When we're hurting, one of the most common things we're told is to get out in nature. In Japan and most recently several countries in Europe, time amongst ancient forests or "Forest Bathing" is prescribed as appose to medicine/anti-depressants.. It is incredibly healing, and what do we do if it's not there anymore?
The way we are living and continue to live will be detrimental to the natural world. We need to re-establish a bond to our surroundings if it is to survive. I hope that is just one thing people can take away from my art. Often finding myself tired of impersonal photos, screens, electronics, it genuinely saddens me to see people admire something for long enough to get a photograph. I watch people do it not only in nature, but to my artwork also.. Which is deeply unsettling. People have simply forgotten how to interact with our world.
My approach to Art has become far more about the emotional and psychological benefits of Art Therapy and I really hope that will come across not only in my Art but my workshop sessions. While obviously we all want to make beautiful art, what I really want to focus on is guiding people towards techniques, connections to other artists and materials that identify with the individual on an emotional and psychological level. Sessions will be made suitable for all ages, first-timers, already practicing artists or just for fun.