Hobart Artist Zoe Fitzherbert
by Stephanie Williams
Artist Zoe Fitzherbert made the transition from architecture to art in her late 20’s and hasn’t looked back.
Where in Hobart do you live? I live in Mount Stuart, a brisk five minute walk from Knocklofty. The view to the receding hills up-river is absolutely stunning. It doesn’t get any better than this!
What’s the best thing about Hobart? For me, the fact that proximity to nature doesn’t cost you proximity to culture.
And the worst? Having no family around is tough!
Tell us a little about your work. As an artist, my process and inspiration are in constant flux. I’m currently focusing on my paintings, which are large abstract pieces, with oceanic themes. I also create custom portraits in charcoal, which are very different from my paintings – they’re highly detailed and really capture the essence of their subject.
You recently held an exhibition, TIDAL, at Salamanca Arts Centre. Yes, what an incredible experience! The body of work was the physical manifestation of 3.5 months of frustration at being unable to express myself creatively due to being in lockdown in rural NSW. My mother had been ill when COVID-19 started to take off and I made a snap decision to fly there with my little son while we still could. It was definitely the right thing to do in the circumstances, but the build-up of loneliness and creative energy while I cared for my son 24/7 started to weigh heavily about two months in. I began to envisage a body of work, almost obsessively, and was finally able to put my ideas to the test after returning to Hobart in July. The next two months were a frenzy of experimentation and creative production – it was full on! The result was TIDAL – the embodiment of the highs and lows of our lockdown period. So incredibly satisfying!
What’s your dream project to work on? Honestly, each project I take on is a dream project! Particularly with my portraiture, watching the subjects come alive, somehow reflecting more of their essence than a photograph ever could – it’s incredibly satisfying (and addictive).
What triggered your transition from architect to artist? I was a passionate architect, but I was many other things besides, and architecture doesn’t leave room for much else. My passion for the profession started to dwindle at the end of my 20s as I realised how much I had been unable to do because of the hours I’d been working. I quit my job, then promptly fell pregnant. Architecture was simply incompatible with my situation; I was alone from day one of motherhood and certain circumstances meant that I had a pretty rough trot for the first year. The extreme highs and lows of solo-parenthood have really changed my outlook on life and it’s much richer these days. Even with a toddler in tow, it’s incredible how much more you can do with your life when you’re not chained to an office job.
What do you love doing outside work? Singing! I’ve been fortunate enough to stumble into some incredible projects since I’ve lived in Hobart, including Jazzamanca – we’re so lucky here to have live music to brighten our lives at the moment.
Favourite Hobart eatery? I’m not a foodie so I’m happy anywhere really – as long as it’s busy, to maximise people-watching opportunities (an interest my toddler has inherited!).
Drink of choice and where do you head for it? I’m working my way through Hobart’s cafés searching for the ultimate iced chocolate. Day or night, it’s my go-to. I’m yet to find one that ticks all my boxes – syrup rather than chocolate powder; ice-cream rather than ice-cubes; a veritable tower of cream. The search continues!
Guilty pleasure? You mean other than iced chocolate…?
Favourite team? I’m a tennis fan actually. The only time I became remotely interested in team sport was during my years in Munich. It was so infectious. So FC Bayern of course!
I’d like to travel to… The very top of Europe. I’d love to go hiking in Iceland and Norway.
When there’s nothing to do, I… Go for a long walk in the bush. Bliss – particularly if it’s pouring with rain. I’m one of those odd creatures that are happiest when the weather is wild.
Favourite Hobart secret? There’s a particular moment in Mount Stuart where you cop a sudden and unexpected glimpse of kunanyi/Mount Wellington, framed by mid-century weather- board on either side – it tickles me pink every time.
Quote to live by? “Head; heart; stomach.” This has come from two very dear friends at different times, in different places, and I come back to it often. I’ve always felt things very intensely and have learnt to embrace it, rather than fight it.