Illustrator draws on raw surroundings

Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian

If you want to keep a secret, make sure local artist Marni Walker isn’t around.

Drifting in and out of other people’s conversations, Walker turns bites of banter into dream-like paintings.

Working mostly with watercolours and pens, Walker often spends time drawing in bars and cafes, where people don’t censor their conversations.

“Frequently, people go out and socialise in public spaces, like you talk with your friends and loved ones,” she said.

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“I listen in far too much to the conversations next to me and work with those.

“It’s actually really fun — people don’t regulate what they say when they’re in public.

“And you kind of hear a lot of stuff you relate to. I think that’s fun to play around with in art because it’s raw.”

Growing up in Geraldton, Walker devoured fairytales, dreaming of foreign lands that were the complete opposite of the harsh Australian outback.

As Walker’s own style of art has blossomed, the characters she created appear to dwell in unknown, eerily beautiful distant locations.

“Geraldton is such a beautiful place,” she said.

“These fairytales are all set in very different places, and you compare that to Australia — not just the environment but the people too.

“It’s kind of juxtaposition, trying to make kids’ stories based in Australia.

“I find that very inspiring.

“We’ve got so many cultural stories and heritage that we’re just losing very quickly unless it’s put down.”

Walker now splits her time between Geraldton and Perth as she works towards graduating as an English teacher this year.

Working under the name Paper & Dust, Walker notes working as a freelance artist isn’t a lucrative business.

But there are several fun projects up her sleeve, including an illustrated children’s book based on her friend’s daughter’s life, and a colouring cookbook.

Although she admits she’s picky with what commissions she takes, Walker said she would rather have control over what she did.

“If you go for commissions, you might as well make it big and fun,” she said.

“People get so caught up in being a freelancer or trying to make it in the world, that they lose sight of why they entered into it in the first place.

“It’s a really tough balance and kudos to anyone who can manage it.”

To see more of Walker’s work, visit her Paper & Dust Facebook page.

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