I’ve always been a bit afraid of moths but this particular little critter is in decline which is threatening species like the pygmy possum who depends on it for essential proteins.
Working in soapstone (a first for me) was a satisfying experience. I love how the colours and markings in the stone revealed themselves later, once I waxed the sculpture. The rusted dome represents the environment that is eroding and decaying at a terrifying rate due to climate change, placing so many vulnerable creatures at risk of extinction.
I think it is important to do what we can to address concerns like climate change and the extinction of species. As artists we can use our skills to bring attention to these important issues, which is what a dedicated group of artists working on a project called CARE (Concerned Artists Resisting Extinction) is doing right now. Smaller artworks (like this little moth) will be presented to the environment minister at Parliament in Canberra next month. The CARE project is ongoing as we continue working on larger artworks for several simultaneous group exhibitions in and around the Gippsland area next year.
We can feel defeated, or we can face our fears and try to make a difference no matter how small, to save our planet. I’d love to hear what you are doing for the environment today in your own small way.
I have been following Andrea Lumsden’s work for some time now and am frequently amazed at what she creates from everyday materials. She excels in an art form that persuades transformation. It seems there is no challenge too big for this talented artist, particularly with regard to material investigations. She boldly seduces the sublime to rise from the mundane in her fascinating works. It is my great pleasure to introduce readers to this inspiring Australian artist in the interview below. If you enjoy Lumsden’s work and would like to see more please offer your support by ‘liking’ her Facebook Artist Page and/or following her blog.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Andrea Lumsden. I have a degree in Fine Art. I am currently in process with a year long body of work called “The magic in the medium: hidden beauty”. This relates to material investigations carried out by me to inspire and motivate the viewer into seeing the versatility of, and the beauty within materials that are so often overlooked.
Why do you do what you do?
Hmmm…I would say that I just have an inner drive towards what I do. I guess I want to create a magical experience; to show that there are always new possibilities and new ways of looking at things and that if we take a different view and try to see something in a new way, then that’s when the magic happens. However, I do think that I started investigating materials in the beginning because I wanted to find my creative niche and even now after doing it for a while; I have found that I really do prefer certain materials to others for their possibilities and their versatility.
How do you work?
My studio, at this point in time, is in a fairly large garage. I just love creating in there. At this stage I investigate a certain material for approximately 4 days to start with to gain a kind of intimacy with it. I also share the investigation on my blog to start with. Further investigation happens later when I create a little bowl with the results from the initial investigation to demonstrate how it all comes together. I work a lot through intuitive flow…ahhh…from one idea to the next. I just keep moving with the ideas until they come to a stop or until I get tired and realise I’ve been sitting there for three hours and my butt is hurting lol. I do love being in the flow. I work best alone or with the cat “Boof”. He likes to accompany me and soak up creative vibes as long as I don’t start talking to him. If I try to hold a conversation; he gets up and moves as far away from me as possible. Haha.
What’s your background?
I think I was quite lucky as a child in primary school. My teacher’s wife was an artist, so we were introduced to a whole array of art subjects like pottery, enamelling, puppet making, sketching, bark painting, Batik and oil painting. During high school, I was directed towards computers etc and really didn’t get back into art until 5 years ago and by that stage I was so frustrated with my skill level that I wanted to learn so much more and here I am today with my degree and still a frustrated artist lol.
What’s integral to the work of an artist?
A good work area is very important, having good equipment and materials at hand to work with, being able to network with other artists, I think is very important and also to keep learning and most of all continual practice whilst being open to mistakes. Mistakes are invaluable. Mistakes create beautiful art and amazing breakthroughs.
What role does the artist have in society?
Again I think this is up to the individual. I can only speak for myself in this instance and my role, I believe is to introduce a new way of looking at life to society; to offer a different perspective.
What has been a seminal experience?
My brother dying just over a year ago has changed my path quite a lot. I keep wanting to be as authentically me as possible. I needed to start doing what I loved and to stop doing what I felt was expected of me. So my work has turned more towards, I suppose you could call it a type of decorative art. I have always loved to decorate; to make things a little more special and a little more magical by adding embellishments and finding the magic or the beauty within something….so yeah.
Explain what you do in 100 words
Lol, just like I’m back at uni again..um I’ll just give you my artist statement which is quite short and sweet but pretty much to the point.
I have a love of material investigation. I try to find/ create a relationship with the material; to become intimate with its possibilities. I am particularly interested in demonstrating the versatility of certain media that I choose to investigate, by displaying my findings in simple finished forms such as an art bowl or a type of jewel/embellishment.
When working with a material, there is a respect or reverence for the whole process; including the material itself that seems to develop the more I choose to experiment with it. I have found that most things can be fascinating and quite magical, if I set my mind to looking for the beauty within. It is that hidden beauty that I am focusing on in my body of work for 2016. How can I create for others to see; a magical experience showing the versatility of the material? This is the question that I am choosing to answer through my body of work “The magic in the medium: hidden beauty”.
How has your practice changed over time?
I have become so much more focused and now know the direction that I wish to take. I am also now allowing for changes in my art to just naturally occur with the flow and whatever direction it takes but the basis is always to investigate and to experiment. The last four years gaining my degree, I found the pace was just a little too fast for me, so I guess now I have slowed down and allowed what I have learned to kind of sink in and gel with me. I look at what I have learned as base skills that I can push further into my own way of doing things. I’m really just at the beginning. There is so much more to come.
Art is my life; my life is my art. Without art, I would not be a whole person. There would be a huge hole in my life.
What is an artistic outlook on life?
The quest is to see things differently, not just the whole picture, but the details that are missed; to document how you see things, as an individual.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
I was described as an outsider artist by one of my tutors. I guess I take that as a compliment. I have had a few strong reactions towards some older works about my agoraphobia experience. Their responses showed me that I was expressing myself how I needed to. I would like to do some more work on my identity but it’s one of those things that can bring up a lot of emotion and in your face stuff and issues with narcissism.
Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
With my experience agoraphobia, I actually learned to like my own company; or was forced to learn as I had no choice at the time lol. I love working by myself which is a good thing because being an artist, you spend a lot of time in the studio by yourself. I rarely feel lonely. These days I have Facebook to keep me company if I want to know that people are around or just to chat with someone about art. We are very lucky that we have that in our lives. Some people like to listen to music whilst they do art. I like to watch movies. Movies are good company and great idea fodder. ☺
What do you dislike about the art world?
I think there is a kind of rushed feeling about art today. I know I am forever trying to calm the feeling down and pace myself. We all don’t need to be in some huge competition with one another. I think that everyone has something different to offer the world and there is room for everybody.
What do you dislike about your work?
Not having enough supplies to do what I want and having to wait to get them. This makes me very impatient. Patience is not one of my strong points…..taps fingers. I also dislike when I’m wanting to get moving but my body gives me a hard time.
What do you like about your work?
I love the act of creating something tactile that I can pick up and hold, run my fingers over. I’m very ‘of the senses’. I love seeing something that was just an idea, brought into the material.
What research do you do?
I spend a lot of time looking for visual cues and seeing how other people use the materials that I am investigating. I also get ideas from movies and from nature and also from designers and artists that I’m interested in.
What is your dream project?
I am doing it now. I am sure there will be more dream projects as I get plenty of ideas, but at this time I am very happy with what I am doing.
Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
I don’t necessarily want to be compared to another artist although Joseph Cornell was quite an influence for me and many others, but also I particularly liked Dieter Roth for his work with documentation, Candy Jernigan for her interesting collecting of found objects and documenting those. I am also spending time researching into the Faberge’ eggs.
Favourite or most inspirational place
My studio and my shower ☺
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
To look at nay sayers as challengers to motivate me further towards my goals.
Professionally, what’s your goal?
To be a highly respected, happy and well paid full time artist who is continuously developing her skills and moving forward in her chosen field.
What wouldn’t you do without?
My scissors and my big bottle of PVA glue , my laptop, coloured inks, my art journals, my printer and my camera…oh …and coffee.
I was the eldest of 3 daughters growing up in a very conservative home and time. My mother was a traditional Afrikaans woman who never, ever spoke to us about sex! I really had no clue. Needless to say some years later my first sexual encounter was also the first time I had ever seen a penis. Ever. I had some idea of what it looked like from a book that my mother had stashed away in the privacy of her bedroom; the book consisted of crude sketches of sexual positions. That was my entire sexual education right there.
After I had been introduced to the mighty penis he invited me to keep him company while he took a bath. I remember it being a cold winter that year. So, I sat down on the toilet seat while he bathed, casually chatting and feeling very adult about it all; somewhat smug even as I was now a ‘woman’ and had so much to tell my two uninformed younger sisters. To say that I felt superior in that moment would be about right. I had discovered the penis in spite of the secrecy surrounding it in our conservative upbringing.
Predictably, my eyes wandered until they rested on his manhood. This fascinatingly mysterious organ that had never been discussed or seen in our all-girl household. I wanted to see it again in all its proud glory. What I saw instead was a shrivelled up little thing that sent a blood-curdling scream through me in fear that he had somehow lost or damaged it! I was mortified! Deeply concerned about his wellbeing I explained the reason for my shock. I cannot remember exactly what happened next but I do remember him laughing loudly, even when his face was underwater, bubbles everywhere. I was concerned about his lost manhood and he was almost drowning with laughter! Confusion reigned for a few moments until he calmed down long enough to explain.
With embarrassment I learnt that penises could not realistically always look the way his did the first time I saw it, he was aroused after all. If they did men would permanently be walking around with tentpoles in their pants. I decided not to include this embarrassing little detail when I later recalled my first penis experience to my admiring sisters. 😉