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Local Artist: Fran Connelly from North Bondi

By jimmyhutton on August 17, 2021 in Arts

Be like water. Photo: Sophie Connelley

This month’s Beast cover artist, Fran Connelley, works in disability and aged care, but painting is her passion. Being able to see the water and paint has kept her sane during lockdown…

How long have you lived here? I’ve lived in the Eastern Suburbs on and off throughout my life. I spent my first five years in North Bondi and went to school at Kincoppal-Rose Bay. When I was married, we lived in a bedsitter on Henrietta Street, Bronte, with a distant view of the Beach. We moved away, but my favourite beaches are still Bronte and Bondi and I’ve kept coming back to swim and paint.

Best thing about the Eastern Suburbs? The beaches, the ocean pools and the sense of community.

Where do you like to have a drink? Anywhere that serves a nice cold glass of bubbly.

How would you describe your art? Expressive, light drenched and watery. I’m obsessed with painting water. I love swimming, and when I paint, I feel as if I am actually ‘in the painting’. I want people to feel that same ‘immersion’ when they see my work; to feel they can just take a breath and relax in that moment.

What are you working on at the moment? I was working towards another solo show, but that’s been replaced by a lockdown series of artworks. My last two exhibitions sold out, which was really exciting. Just recently I’ve started painting skies in the same way I’ve approached the sea. Clouds are like oceans – both made of water, full of energy and really therapeutic to paint!

Where can people see your work? By visiting my website,, or Instagram, @franconnelleyart.

Who are your artistic inspirations? David Hockney, Edward Hopper, Arthur Streeton and Clarice Beckett. But most of all it would be my art teacher, Paul Miller, who taught me to stay out of my head and paint with my heart.

When did you discover you had a gift for your craft? I’ve always been excited by a blank canvas or blank piece of paper. At school I was good at art but didn’t pursue it as a career. I really missed it, so I returned to art classes and now I’m obsessed.

Did you study art? Since school, I haven’t done any formal art study but I’ve become a total art gallery nerd. For the last six years I’ve been attending a community art centre in Roseville on Saturday afternoons and it’s heaven. They had to close temporarily during lockdown but they’ll be back open for term four hopefully in September.

Any words of wisdom for young aspiring artists? The process is more important than the outcome. If you’re not making mistakes you’re not growing, so be kind to yourself and just keep at it. Selling your work is no measure of your value or the value of your work.

What music are you into at the moment? Mozart, Chopin and Spotify’s Rainy Day Jazz playlist.

Do you have a favourite quote? “An art which isn’t based on feeling isn’t an art at all… feeling is the principle, the beginning and the end.” – Paul Cezanne

Any other words of wisdom for readers of The Beast? I love the Nelson Mandela quote, “It only seems impossible until it’s done.”