In normal circumstances, speaking to Sydney-based artist Dina Broadhurst might have looked a little different — perhaps taking a walk through her sprawling Vaucluse home and studio, the iconic CASA Studio, which acts as the resting place for some of her most inspiring artistic creations, as well as all the unexpected accessories that usually tie her pieces together. But instead, Broadhurst and I chat over the phone in the midst of Sydney’s lockdown, me in my living room and she in hers. Only, thanks to Broadhurst’s transparent social media presence, I can imagine exactly how she looks, draped no doubt in a colourful design from her collection of Australian fashion, and sat amongst her richly feminine, powerful works that have become distinctly unique to her artistic style.
Broadhurst, despite admitting to always having a passion for “creating”, took an arguably atypical route to end up where she is, trying her hand at everything from makeup artistry, advertising and interior design — the latter of which she still very much puts to use.
"I guess I learned about other artists and the whole art world just from starting to go to galleries, but before I even knew about galleries or artwork, I was just making art. I don't know why. It's my release and my go-to.”
Broadhurst’s digital artworks, categorised by a mix of photography, collage and luxury advertorial twists, are much like the artist herself — multilayered. While the artist is an open book on social media, sharing the creative process behind her final products, as well as regularly showcasing a natural talent for self-portrait, it’s her continuous experimentation that leaves us never knowing what to expect, and perhaps why so many tune in to see what she comes up with next.
“I really push myself,” she says. “First of all, I need to do it because it keeps me sane. So whether it was doing well or not, I would just still do it every day because it's my anchor.” Broadhurst adds that when it comes to finding that creative ambition, she’s filled with “such a big list and so little time.”
For the artist, ideas are constantly flowing and evolving, waiting for the perfect time to be taken to her canvas — even if that’s months or years down the track — never rushing to bring a piece to life. “It's just getting around to things that have always been on your mind to do,” she explains. “Time gives you the opportunity to achieve those.”
The ability to take even the most unassuming of trinkets, colours and textures is something Broadhurst has become incredibly admired for, and something that is seeped into all facets of what she creates — with everything from army figurines, to mandarin slices, glitter, and even, cracked eggs (an idea that is yet to be released), appearing alongside her famed pieces.
“The army figurines were an idea for so long and I finally found the right piece to do it on,” Broadhurst says with a laugh, recalling the moments she finally finds her objects their rightful place. “It's funny when I find it. When I put two things together and I see why they go so well together and didn’t think of it beforehand. It’s not like I’m going, ‘Okay, that colour goes with that colour and brings out that colour', or ‘that pattern matches that pattern’, it’s subliminal. I don’t know why until I’ve done them, I’ll see all the reasons why afterwards.”
When asked if she would ever evolve from her signature style — the distinctive exploration of female sensuality and complexity — Broadhurst is frank in admitting that experimenting with something new simply comes down to feeling it’s the right time, the right place, and with the right connection. “It will always be a version of that style, I’ve branched out and I always come back to it,” Broadhurst says, noting, “I’m evolving more. Sometimes it’s not always in art, it’s in a different product or taking art to a different level, or meeting the right person that facilitates a new idea happening.”
This is exactly what happened with one of Broadhurst’s latest releases, a series of fine art collectable plates, titled ‘Milk’ and ‘Tongue Tied’, both of which capture the artist’s style, only on an entirely new medium.
“I was thinking of that for maybe 12 years,” she recalls of the creative process. “It finally happened just because I met the right person that I was finally comfortable with to produce them. So, sometimes it's just about timing and letting it happen organically with the right relationships.”
The artist’s mind always has its sights set on bigger, more experimental projects, which again, comes down to feeling the timing is right. “My ideas are evolved in things that I cannot achieve, like sculptural pieces, and when I find the right makers to partner with. So the ideas will evolve as I grow, but it's still the same idea. It's the same aesthetic. It's just on a different scale and in different materials.”
You’ll never know what’s coming next with Broadhurt’s art, which is exactly what makes her works all the more fun. “I have some great pieces in my studio, so many things that I just love and they're so cute, but they just haven't found the right home yet,” she teases, quickly adding that “there are lots of things I experiment with — some are terrible. But I kind of like when they turn out terrible too, to be honest.”
It’s the same idea that plays into all Broadhurst’s creations, that something can be built upon from what it originally was. “I always keep them because they can still turn into something amazing,” she says. “Sometimes they become just like a roadmap or a base. It just becomes abstract. So if I just use everything, even if I use it over, and over, and over again, and it develops into something totally different and it's totally covered, it still worked to get to the other place.”
While Broadhurst admits to finding inspiration “everywhere”, there is one source that regularly provides it in new and even more meaningful ways — her 15-year-old son Leo.“I feel like he teaches me, rather than the opposite,” Broadhurst adds.
Motherhood, as any will tell you, is no easy feat — especially when, as someone like Broadhurst, your work is so ingrained into who you are.
“Because my work is so constant and so engrossing, it's a constant challenge to kind of check myself and make sure I look up once in a while because my head is always in my work. I wish I could be better at it. I'm learning and I'm trying, but my goal is to get a lot better at it.”
As for how she chooses to inspire Leo in her own way, Broadhurst explains it comes down to letting him explore exactly who he wants to be, letting him try new experiences and hobbies at his own pace.
“I try to not encourage him with anything. I want him to be not pushed in any direction. I just have everything available to him, and if he shows interest in something, I will kind of get anything that will facilitate that around him. But just naturally on his own. I really won't push him.”
And with the turbulent year that many teens have faced, Broadhurst says she’s in awe of how resilient her son has been — an outlook the artist has used to shape her own positivity in recent months. “Seeing his confidence, his positivity, and his mood not affected, his ability to be so adaptable, and his ability to really sit with himself, it makes me sort of check-in with myself.” When it comes to the pinch-me moments in her career, Broadhurst, despite having pieces draped in some of the world’s most spectacular spaces, says she’s often most surprised when the unexpected happens — like when one of the world’s most recognised brands reaches out for collaboration. To date, the artist has worked alongside such brands as Mercedes Benz, La Prairie, Tom Ford and even Westfield, to bring her artistic creations to new heights.
“If someone reaches out to me that’s not expected, it’s quite exciting for me because it’s really just me working on my own, just trying to find the time to make all these ideas that are just sitting in my head constantly,” Broadhurst says. “So, when that’s broken and someone approaches me, say for a collaboration, that’s when I get these little hits of like, ‘Oh, wow’.” As for what Broadhurst would tell anyone else hoping to pursue their true passion, she says to shake away the fear and lean into your individual authenticity.
“You definitely have to have no fear. You have to have really thick skin. You have to not just believe in what you're doing, but it has to be really you,” the artist says. “It has to be you, because when it is you, then you don't want it changed or you don't take criticism because you’ll find a way to be really light about it.”
"I just want to go to Mexico, Iceland or Japan. I want to do something really different, somewhere very different from where I've been before."
"There's so many! I love Lucy Folk, NAGNATA, SIR The Label, Michael Lo Sordo, Christopher Esber. I love Blanca."
"I buy the Emma Lewisham moisturiser over and over again, which I just love! It's the day cream, it's so good."
"I love having someone that keeps me in check."
$500 has been donated to the Sydney Children's Hospitals Foundation through the making of this article.
Main Image: Shot by Charles Grant, Styling by Suzy Eskander, Hair & Makeup by Hayley Wilson
Images throughout: @dinabroadhurst, @blanca_studio, @michaellosordo, @lucy_folk, @sir_thelabel