Canberra artist Waratah Lahy is drawn to painting the often unnoticed details of suburban life. Working in watercolour and oil, her intriguing scenes capture moments gleaned from the everyday. Quietly recording afternoon shadows that gently skim across pavements and the whispers of budding leaves before spring, Waratah reveals recognisable yet unexpectedly beautiful details of suburbia. As a child, Waratah noticed newly installed Neighbourhood Watch signs which instilled within her a sense of watchfulness. Since then, she has been an avid observer and recorder of her surroundings. Her works at once speak of isolation and points of connection, telling the story of ongoing social change and directing us, in particular, to watch shifting populations, accrual of wealth, removal of public housing, bigger apartment blocks and separation from the natural environment. For Waratah, this process of careful observation is also deeply meditative and enriching. She says of her work, “It’s a story of growth and change, but it’s an ode to accidental beauty and how the observation of small things can add value and meaning to the everyday.”
Waratah has exhibited widely since graduating from the Australian National University School of Art with Honours in Visual Arts and the University Medal in 1999. She has undertaken numerous residencies, including at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris awarded by the Australia Council for the Arts in 2012. Waratah was a finalist in the Calleen Art Awards in 2020, winner of the 2018 M16 Drawing Award and the Canberra Critics Circle Award for visual arts in 2017. Waratah is also an experienced arts administrator and educator. Her work are held in several collections including Artbank, Parliament House and the Goulburn Regional Art Gallery.