Tamborine Mountain is an idyllic spot. A volcanic plateau nestled in the Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia, the place is home to exotic birds, pristine waterfalls and lush tropical rainforests. Aboriginal settlers first occupied this scenic hinterland tens of thousands of years ago. Their spirit, pure and untamed, is still keenly felt in the region.
The magic of Tamborine Mountain certainly comes through in the artworks of Julie Luiz Murphy. The artist, whose exhibit “Tamborine Mountain” is on display at MACC at the Streets through October, creates colorful paintings filled with mysterious heroines. These heavenly creatures rule their kingdoms, and entice the viewer to step into their world.
Murphy will be on hand for an artist reception on Saturday, Oct. 21 from 6 to 8 p.m. at MACC at the Streets, 300 Indian Lake Blvd., A140, Hendersonville. She returns to the Streets on Thursday, Oct. 26 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. to provide an artist talk and demonstration.
These days, Murphy divides her time between her home in Queensland and Nashville. We caught up with her recently to ask a few questions.
What brought you all the way from Australia to the Nashville area?
JLM: I have lived between Queensland and the USA for the last eight years. That’s because my daughter, country singer Jamie O’Neal, lives in Nashville. This trip came about when Cheryl Strichik, executive director at Monthaven Arts and Cultural Center, offered me a showing at MACC at the Streets. It is indeed an honor to work with such a prestigious, community-spirited gallery.
What’s Tamborine Mountain like, and how does it inspire you as an artist?
JLM: It’s a beautiful mountain region in the hinterland of the Gold Coast in Queensland, where natural beauty abounds and a peace exists that calms the mind and centers the soul. The aboriginal tribes originally lived here and to this day it exudes a magical aura that people from all over the world are drawn to.
I’ve heard your art described as “Story Art.” What does that mean?
JLM: Figurative art, when woven with a theme or story, tells a visual tale to the viewer. Naturally, there is an interpretational element in such works. Story art takes the art lover to places and times that inspire a sense of mystery and fascination. I can start with flowers and birds, but it always ends with a mysterious character or two making their presence and story known.
Who are the mysterious characters, the heroines, of your paintings?
JLM: My heroines are always the stars of the show. They make their presence known the minute I take pen to paper. Their stories unfold all around them. They are not based on real people. But they are composite characters. They’ve been called “heavenly creatures,” with their mysterious tales woven into a backdrop of exotic locations and rich costumes.
Could you describe your process?
JLM: I’m led by spirit. Always. I’m self-taught and am inspired by a greater power, and I have no rules or guidelines to follow. I like it this way. It’s freedom to paint from the heart, not the mind.
What do you hope viewers will take away from looking at your art?
JLM: When collectors tell me they are lifted into a joyous place and feel inspired by my art, I have achieved my goal. I strive to bring an illusory sense of theater surrounded by a fairytale world. That’s my happy place. I hope it’s the same for the viewer.
Is there anything I didn’t ask that I should have?
JLM: Yes, I’d like to include my mantra: to be led by spirit and bring forth a message that’s merely channeled by me.