For the next two months, the Newtown Art Seat will exhibit a bold and engaging work by Pia Larsen, an artist who is based in Sydney and lives in Stanmore.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your work
‘The Portal’ artwork developed from my existing art practice utilizing books, to transform into objects, for example, drilling holes through the pages, text, selecting and highlighting words or phrases that provoke an association or reference to particular current or past events, and images, found and created through photography, drawing and printmedia on paper. I also create work with perforated metal and stainless steel in 2 and 3D. I work with a range of ideas with a particular focus and interest in how people’s lives are effected by the culture around them. I’ve been making art for many years and have exhibited in commercial and ARI spaces and was represented by the Damien Minton Gallery for five years. I’m also a teacher at the National Art School in the Printmaking Studio.
How do you produce these works?
‘The Portal ‘ is about the Newtown area and includes Reverse Garbage in Marrickville. I interviewed people from a range of places in Newtown, including Natalie Gould from Gould’s Book Arcade, Kristina Vesk from the Cat Protection Society, Yoshi Jones and Grace Deleo from Yoshi Jones, Karo Tak from Alfalfa House and Stella Delight. I asked them questions that included why they liked Newtown, how they would describe it and its possible future. I also took photographs of the places they spoke about as meaningful to them and sometimes of the people themselves. For example, Karo, in Yoga poses in the Church Street graveyard and in the yoga class she teaches in Camperdown. I also manipulated these images and printed them digitally. On each set of panels I worked with the materials to create a collage that reflected the person I had interviewed and the philosophy underpinning where they worked and their role in the organization.
Who or what Characters featured in your work?
The characters featured in my work are people from the local community along with figures from history, such as Leon Trotsky, Karl Marx, Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, Gough Whitlam and children and adults from literature, family history, theatre and political commentary. There are also numerous cats and a couple of sharks.
What inspires you / is so interesting about having your work in the Newtown Art Seat? In the Public Space?
I was inspired by the community I live in and wanted to make an artwork about Newtown and the people, who live, work and visit each day. The Newtown area is recognized as a hub for the expression of new ideas, creativity, tolerance and the acquisition of knowledge through an engaged life and tertiary study. I have got to know people across the community over many years and registered a lament amongst people for what is being lost, along with an appreciation for the people and places that maintain and build on the character of the area, as this work aims to do. It’s also an opportunity to have my work seen by an audience who may rarely visit galleries but pass the ArtSeat on a regular basis.
What Key messages are you planning to promote through your work?
The key messages I’m promoting through my work are that societies flourish when people are engaged in meaningful endeavors and care for one-another. ‘The Portal’ brings together a material manifestation of peoples lives, their interests, history, education and passions, amidst the places where people interact with one another. It will offer new ways of seeing the familiar and create unexpected connections between parts of the community.
It’s also a celebration of what’s special about the Newtown area and how many of these things are disappearing with increasing affluence.
Any special events or projects you will do during the time of exhibition?
Over the next two months I’m looking forward to hearing what people think about the work and their impressions of Newtown. As well, there will be an article published about my art practice, and ‘The Portal’ Project, in Imprint Magazine, a specialist printmedia and works on paper magazine, in early December.
Any other upcoming projects you would like to mention or promote?
I would like to exhibit ‘The Portal’ in other venues, such as, regional galleries and interstate.
Anything else you would like to say?
That I hope Newtown retains some sort of gritty, messy edge.