This work is the result of my embedding myself in my local car repair workshop to observe, draw, photograph and paint the mechanics, absorbed in their work and their world. In the course of their daily routine the mechanics perform complicated, strenuous actions that an athlete might practise for months to perfect. The paintings capture some of these movements and use my gesture to include the environment itself—its contrasts, movement, sounds and other sensations. I have enjoyed reversing the tables by being a woman painting men, when for most of art history men have painted women.
Susan Banks has been studying and practising as a painter since 2008 when she enrolled in the Painting Workshop at the ANU School of Art. Her previous careers have included molecular biology, primary teaching, and running an orchard and these influence her belief that work is one of the central pillars of our life. Her lived experience has led to her fascination with human vitality which is the subject of the work in this exhibition.