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Zoe Young is a painter making a big name for herself. A two times Archibald finalist for her portraits of snowboarder Torah Bright and model Samantha Harris, Zoe lives in Bowral with partner Reg and children Wilbur and Lucy. In February she has her first London show, ‘the interiors we inherit, the objects we collect, the stage is set’, a collection of works portraying everyday moments. ‘The opportunity to exhibit in London has brought my attention to the Englishness of my work, which is really a Highlands thing. We have a great selection of top tier artists in the Highlands, like John Olsen, Tim Storrier and Ben Quilty, all of whom have been really supportive, not just of my painting but of the state of the arts in the Highlands. The area is full of creatives and I think art starts at home. If you’re surrounded by art and artists, it’s going to rub off.’

My name is ZOE YOUNG

I live in… Bowral surrounded by craftsmen, sculptors and others doing interesting things in warehouses.

My life in five words is… Family, studio, mountain, love and maze. (My dad built the largest maze in the southern hemisphere in Crackenback, where I grew up.)

We moved here because… It sits between the surf and the snow.

My favourite things in the Highlands are… Harry’s on Green Lane, Dirty Janes, Highlands Merchant and the seasons. I don’t often admit this, but I do just get in the car and drive around for the sake of it. There are so many wonderful landscapes and they vary so much depending on the weather. I never tire of  driving up Oxley Hill to Berrima.

Followers on Instagram see… The life behind the work.

When it comes to style… Mine is in the tradition of the modernists with an infusion of contemporary life.

I often get asked… If I realise I have paint on my face.

People who come to my exhibitions see… A complete body of work. The paintings bounce off one another and form some sort of narrative.

I always take friends who come to stay to… Lydie du Bray Antiques in Mittagong. It’s more a museum than a store. Followed by sandwiches from Park Road Corner Store in Bowral chucked into a hamper for a picnic by the river.

My special place here is… Tudor House. It was the first place I ever visited in the Highlands as a kid. It was so mossy and green, like something out of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I am now the artist in residence at the school, which I’m excited about.

You shouldn’t leave the Highlands without… Pinot and a pizza under John Olsen’s ‘Sun’ in the Cellar Door at Bendooley Estate as well as stocking up your art book collection.

The Southern Highlands is such a special place because of… The quaint country roads, gardens, mist and weatherboards. I can’t live without the espresso coffee and espresso martinis I get here. Basically, I’m at ease being pseudo-rural at this stage in my life.

Being a parent and an artist is… A rollercoaster. Wine helps. Reg is a great dad and my parents have a big role in our lives, so I’m fortunate. I constantly have one foot in my imagination and the other wherever I’m meant to be, which my kids are starting to cotton on to. Sometimes I realise they’ve been calling my name for a while before I answer, which isn’t the worst thing but I’m certainly not a stereotypical mum, and they still seem to grow.

I paint… Everything that I love about the world, including the drama of it. Life is brief. I’m going to paint what I love, and I’m going to paint it the best I can. I’ve got to leave a memory before I die. That I was here and I adored this time.

Insta Zoe Young @zoeoliviayoung /


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