As a painter, Corinne Loxton is well aware of how undervalued art is in Australia. Despite the struggles of being a painter in this country, she has made the conscious decision to pursue her passion and continue to make a career out of oil painting.

“The reason I’ve pursued painting is because – I have done some soul searching about this – I feel that it really is my vocation. I’ve had enough feedback from other people to give me a sense of confidence that what I’m doing is adding value to other people’s lives. Ultimately, that’s really important to me. I want to be able to do something that’s not just about me and my life but which actually brings something to others that contributes in a meaningful way. I’m continuing to paint because I feel like it’s possible for me to make a living from my work and also make work that is authentic to who I am – I don’t feel like I have to compromise one for the other.

Loxton feels like there is a huge gap in Australians’ appreciation of art compared to other, particularly European, cultures.

“It is very difficult in Australia because by and large art is not seen as a central part of our culture. Plenty of people might argue with me but having done some work in quite prestigious high schools in Sydney, I can see that the students that are expected to attain very good marks are discouraged from pursuing art, even though they might be extremely creative. I think that’s a very sad inditement on our society that we don’t value the arts like perhaps Europe does. It’s seen as part of the fabric of their society there and artists are respected and revered for what they offer.”

Although Loxton believes this culture could and might even already be changing, she said getting people to part with their money is a whole different story.

“Anything’s possible. I’d hate to say it couldn’t be changed. It’s something that probably wouldn’t happen quickly but I don’t see why [Australia’s art culture] couldn’t change. I think people are becoming more art literate and festivals like Vivid and Sculptures by the Sea and other major art events that are happening are encouraging more of the general population to go and look at art. Whether it actually gets it into galleries and buying art, that’s a different question – that actually involves people spending some of their money and prioritising some of their disposable income on art. And that’s not easy for people to do. It almost has to be taught to people from a young age that you’re going to value art to that extent.”


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