Artist Tai Snaith Paints From A Beautiful ‘Haunted’ House In Fitzroy North

Artist Tai Snaith Paints From A Beautiful ‘Haunted’ House In Fitzroy North

Artist Tai Snaith Paints From A Beautiful ‘Haunted’ House In Fitzroy North

Studio Visit

by Christina Karras

Inside the old home that’s become Tai Snaith’s art studio. ‘Three stories of Spring (Bundanon)’ by Tai Snaith.

Tai’s dog Wally keeps watch over the front door and sunroom where she does most of her painting. Top left: ideas on canvas pad for further works taped to the wall. Original lino flooring.

Tai sits with Wally at her feet. Paintings: ‘Revolutionary Compost’ and ‘Inseparable Fog’.

A work in progress.

A series of Tai’s quick oil sketches on canvas paper are collected and taped with gaffa in the hallway as a kind of interstitial gallery.

Every room inside the old home is painted a different colour, which Tai says makes it feel like a doll’s house!

She’s felt an eerie, spiritual energy that she’s called the house’s two ‘lady ghosts’!

Tai was inspired by the work of Merric and Doris Boyd (Arthur Boyd’s parents) during her recent residency working from Arthur Boyd’s Shoalhaven home at Bundanon Trust in NSW.

A stained wood mantelpiece of the art nouveau fireplace holds her art books and references. Green Fagel ceramic pitcher from Bison Home. Carriere Feres spearmint scented candle. Vintage Mickey Mouse ceramic jug from op shop in Gundagai.

Site-specific painting of two vessels, gesso onto existing patina on wall.

‘Clara Tice and her hound’ sits above the old bathroom — complete with 50s cream enamel sink, flaking pink lead-based paint and rotting green curtains.

‘Avenging her mother with unconscious arrows’ (work in progress).

Tai uses the moody light and varying patterns of 1950’s lino in different rooms to see her works in progress with fresh eyes.

Oil paints and brushes on the workspace.

‘Nothing’s ever really still (Welcome swallows at Bundanon’).

Another work in progress.

Tai also paints from the backyard when weather allows.

Melbourne-based artist Tai Snaith has a bit of an affinity for abandoned buildings.

She’s been painting for as long as she can remember, and spent a lot of time working from vacant sites in her younger years — which perhaps explains why she finds her new studio space inside a neglected (but rather beautiful) Fitzroy North home particularly nostalgic.

The old Victorian worker’s cottage hasn’t been touched since the early 1950s, and was uninhabited for about a decade until Tai claimed it as her workspace a few months ago.

‘It is pretty decrepit (large parts of the walls are falling down) and it’s not really liveable, so the owners can’t lease it out properly,’ Tai says.

‘They offered it to me when I applied for another ad for a smaller shared space, which wasn’t suitable in the end. It was a very fortuitous happy accident.’

Inside, every room is painted a different colour. The hallway features pastel pink walls while another is a muted green, making the space feel like a ‘film set or a giant doll’s house’. But Tai has worked mostly from the yellow room at the front of the property, saying ‘it has the nicest light and feels the least haunted’.

‘When I first started working in the house, I had the distinct feeling that I was not alone,’ she explains. ‘I’m pretty sure there are the souls of two old ladies from two different generations in there with me.’

This eerie, staunch, and resilient female energy is something Tai has channelled into her oil paintings for her next solo exhibition in August. The works are ‘fairly intense’ and draw on an expansive mix of influences; politics and war; female artists from the past; her contemporary peers; the joy of painting itself; and her own emotional landscape.

‘Part of my process is to sit and write at the start of each day in the studio in a dedicated journal. I usually work on a number of paintings at once, giving me time to let layers dry, get perspective and walk from room to room pondering my next mark,’ she adds.

While her latest body of work is focused on painting, Tai also creates ceramics, and vessels are a recurring motif in her upcoming showcase. Outlines of jugs and pitchers frame female-driven, domestic imagery that’s rich with visual story and symbolism — turning the canvas into a portal to an abstract inner world.

Tai Snaith’s next exhibition will be on show at Nicholas Thompson Gallery in August. Contact the gallery for any sales enquires and follow Tai on Instagram for more updates.