INSPIRE: Visual artist Kerri Blades shares her journey and art style inspired by family and travel

Josiah McMeekinAlbany Advertiser
Visual artist Kerri Blades at home with some of her works.
Camera IconVisual artist Kerri Blades at home with some of her works. Credit: Laurie Benson

From mother of four to cancer survivor, Kerri Blades’ life and passion have informed her art through the years.

Blades has always been the creative type.

“From the age of five, I remember someone particularly asking me, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ and I knew from then I wanted to be an artist,” she said.

Born in Africa to English parents, she lived in the UK for the first part of her life before moving to Australia.

After graduating from Kalamunda Senior High School, where she was involved in the arts program, Blades studied printmaking at TAFE.

Artist Kerri Blades at work.
Camera IconArtist Kerri Blades at work. Credit: Laurie Benson

Despite the colourful works of art that decorate the walls of her home and Instagram feed, painting wasn’t always the obvious route for Blades.

“I actually failed painting in TAFE,” she said.

“I think that’s what spurred me on, to really prove I could paint.”

Kerri Blades’ works.
Camera IconKerri Blades’ works. Credit: Laurie Benson

She went on to get her degree at Edith Cowan University, when she married her now-husband Brendon Blades in her final year.

“He was an artist, he’s now a policeman,” she said.

Pregnant with their eldest, the two stayed in Perth for a year before “going country” for Mr Blades’ police work.

The two went on to have four kids and settled in Albany six years ago.

As a stay-at-home mum, Blades has always worked around her kids.

“I’ve never had a studio per se, I’ve always worked from the kitchen table, or I’ve had little workstations,” she said.

“And the kids knew not to touch my work, they just grew up around it.”

Motherhood and family are core parts of her life and reflected across much of her work.

Kerri Blades’ artwork.
Camera IconKerri Blades’ artwork. Credit: Laurie Benson

“To me, family is the most important and that’s in my work,” she said.

“Most of it is really to do with family, they’ll (the pictures) often have little houses or birds in little nests, or things that are sort of domestic.”

Her art style has evolved at each stage of her life.

Originally working in black and white, she made the shift to colour after the birth of her second child.

“I got postnatal depression really badly. After that, I went full-on into colour,” she said.

“I just didn’t go back to black and white; I do the occasional black and white now and then, but it’s mainly colour.

“I wanted that joy; I wanted that happiness.”

Kerri Blades' ink sketches.
Camera IconKerri Blades' ink sketches. Credit: Laurie Benson

With her husband in the police force, Blades and her family would move from town to town every few years with each town adding to her art.

“Every town we’ve been to that we’ve lived in, I’ve picked up stuff from there,” she said.

“So we were in Kununurra for two years and I was just doing the boabs and the deep reds, I didn’t really use orange and reds before Kununurra and then that obviously came into it.”

Six years ago, her art style underwent another change; she began to experiment with more abstract art after a battle with ovarian cancer.

“I thought that was it, I thought that was the end of my life.”

Fortunately, she has made a strong recovery and is in remission.

Artist Kerri Blades’ process often begins with a chalk sketch.
Camera IconArtist Kerri Blades’ process often begins with a chalk sketch. Credit: Laurie Benson

As her kids slowly but surely grow up and leave home, her art is changing again.

“I’m into that different stage of life and that sort of empty-nesting stage now,” Blades said.

“I’m doing a lot of nests with nothing in it.”

With more free time on the horizon, she hopes over the next two years to begin submitting her work to more competitions.

“‘I’m going to start entering more art competitions again, which is what I did at the very beginning before I had all the kids,” she said.

While unsure if some of her current, more illustrative work would be suitable, she also hopes to be represented by an art gallery.

“I know if I really pushed it and did a body of work, I could be represented.”

Reflecting on her body of work and experiences, she said she would encourage everyone to find what they are passionate about and pursue it.

“You need to focus on what you love, I know it’s not always easy, because there’s money, finances come into play,” she said.

“It’s a short life, we don’t have long so do what you love.”

Blades’ art is on display locally at the Down South Art Collective on Stirling Terrace.

Some of Kerri Blades’ colourful works.
Camera IconSome of Kerri Blades’ colourful works. Credit: Laurie Benson

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