Geraldton artist blooms in solo debut
When Savannah Wilkinson said “screw it, I’m going to be an artist” at the end of 2017, she had no idea where her artistic talents would take her.
After a year of creating “aggressively happy” artworks filled to the brim with bright, cheerful colours, Wilkinson — who prefers to be known as Sammy Jay — opened her debut solo exhibition, Bloom, earlier this month.
Presented by Act-Belong-Commit, Bloom features Wilkinson’s vibrant renditions of plants and flowers, exploring the 27-year-old’s creative growth over the past year.
With around 65 people heading to The Exchange — upstairs in the Geraldton Visitor Centre — for the official opening, Wilkinson said she was blown away by the turnout.
“I was like ‘if 10 people come, I’m happy’, and I’m absolutely stoked with the response I’ve got,” she said.
“I sold seven pieces on the first night and I didn’t expect to sell anything.
“It’s absolutely indescribable.”
Tackling the impact of autism on her day-to-day life, Wilkinson has found solace in creating positivity fuelled pieces, drawing how she wants to feel, not how she is feeling.
Noting the therapeutic benefits of drawing, the young artist hopes to share what she’s learnt with other creative people who may have a disability or mental health disorder.
This year, it’ll be much easier for Wilkinson to become an arts advocate as she has been named the 2019 Act-Belong-Commit youth ambassador.
Working with the North Midlands Project, the Geraldton Project and the Mullewa Project, Wilkinson will have the chance to run and attend workshops, travel around the Mid West and work with up-and-coming artists.
“I’m pretty stunned that I got chosen — I’ve only been doing it for a year and I’ve been so lucky,” she said.
“I want others to share in this opportunity with me.
“You are limited by your disabilities and there’s a lot of stigma, and getting out there as an artist is hard enough when you’re not facing those challenges.
“I want to give other people a chance who don’t usually get one.”
A self-taught artist, Wilkinson was previously planning on studying the Diploma of Visual Arts at Central Regional TAFE this year.
Just days away from committing to the course, Wilkinson was asked to be the youth ambassador — an opportunity she said would have been “stupid to pass up”.
With dreams of exploring new artistic mediums, Wilkinson said she’d still like to do some formal training.
“A lot (of mediums) you have to have a set of equipment that can cost so much money just to experience them,” she said.
“I want to try pottery, jewellery making, glass-making — stuff you can’t do on your own.
“I think it’d be incredibly beneficial and exciting to study at TAFE ... and I’ll do that after, but this is absolutely such an amazing opportunity.”
Bloom will be on display until February 27.
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