Natasha Bieniek’s painting Waiting for Arden is a self-portrait depicting her when she was 36 weeks pregnant.
‘I felt compelled to use myself as a subject because I was completely consumed within my own world. It reflects a moment in time when I was feeling particularly uncomfortable and apprehensive about what I was about to face. Although I already felt immense love for my baby, I had anxieties about becoming a mother and how my ability to make art would be called into question. Painting was my life. I wondered how my integrity as an artist might be scrutinised. I feared that my painting would not be looked at beyond the scope of motherhood,’ says Bieniek.
‘There’s an incredible amount of pressure for modern women to “do it all”. I produced much of this painting when Arden was just weeks old. Although the frantic juggle is still omnipresent, having a baby has completely enriched my life in all its chaotic glory. It’s the beautiful little moments that make it all worthwhile.’
Born in Melbourne in 1984, Bieniek is a six-time Archibald finalist. In 2015, she won both the Wynne Prize and Portia Geach Memorial Award. She is also a finalist in this year’s Wynne Prize.