Tell us about yourself.
I live in a small coastal community below the Royal National Park in Australia but I grew up inland. I have been mostly working in paper until my recent project Pool, the Alchemy of Blue. I got to where I am today by placing one foot in front of the other. It’s great, it takes you places. You just have to keep doing it, and go deep into the things you really care about.
What is beauty to you and how do you define beauty?
Beauty is about having eyes, mind and heart open. It can be anywhere and everywhere – in pattern, in shape, in composition, intersections of colour, oddly juxtaposed textures.
At what point did you realize you wanted to pursue art occupationally?
I think I knew this early on but only later was I in a position to be able to jump into my practice in a deep and ongoing way. This is because I didn’t have the support earlier nor I think the vision, meaning I didn’t have a lot to say! My practice really comes from the point of being less afraid and more interested in leading an authentic life. To be authentic means to make.
Why do you use stones and concrete?
Pool, the Alchemy of Blue is a project that came to me. I have mostly worked at a small scale with paper so the materiality of Alchemy and it’s scale are really the antithesis of my previous work. I was looking to expand my practice in terms of medium but I don’t think I would have travelled so far if the concrete hadn’t literally been at my feet, which then asked to be picked up, and there the story began to unfold.
Where are the concrete collected from?
The concrete comes from our local sea pool in Coledale. Coledale is in the Illawarra, the coast south of Sydney. It has a mining history and the Illawarra has the most densely populated amount of sea pools anywhere in Australia. The construction of the pool began during the first world war and has had various incarnations over the 20th century to become an Olympic sized pool. In 2011 the pool was relined. I had already been pocketing small fragments that had broken away and when the work began to demolish the pool, I gathered much bigger pieces.
Let’s talk about Pool, The Alchemy of Blue. What was the creative inspiration behind this project?
It began with walks along my local beaches and finding and pocketing fragments of the pool that had broken away. I am interested in the inorganic, man-made beach finds rather than finds formerly belonging in the sea. I’ve been collecting concrete, bricks, rope, plastics etc. The project really began to take seed when I learned the pool was to be relined. Australia has a unique history of sea pools. Pool, the Alchemy of Blue operates as a love song to this history – a grand gesture to the lyric, romantic, poetic and sublime. It’s not about ruin but about transformation; abstract concepts are rendered in a concrete material; weight becomes light; concrete appears to float; the impossible becomes possible and the intimacy of individual pieces of concrete seem to belie the immensity of the pool, the rock platform, the stretching sea and vast sky.
What’s the significance behind the circular shape of your projects?
It’s all about the moon and tides.
Concrete is very heavy, but you elevated a part of your the indoor installation of “The Alchemy of Blue.” What spurred this decision? What does the weightlessness represent?
Concrete is a heavy material but some of the elements around the site of the sea pool have very different qualities. As a body, water is also heavy but it can be light and there is a lightness to how the sea moves in and out of the sea pool. In the installation I wanted to conflate the different qualities that co-exist in the concrete, water, rock platform, sea, sky and escarpment. It is also about animating the material. Suspended it takes on a different quality and dimension than if it was laid out on the gallery floor. It suggests things about where it has come from, what its former life was. Each piece of concrete moves in the installation and this was unexpectedly exacerbated by the air conditioners blowing onto the smallest and lightest of the pieces. They dance and move, sometimes vigorously. It is kinetic and alive.
How are the stones and concrete blue?
The interior of the pool is painted blue. The concrete comes from the pool.
What does the color blue represent to you?
I’m not sure it represents anything in particular. It is simply the colour of the pool though it does relate to the sea and sky. There is a pureness to blue. A spiritual lightness if you like.
What’s the significance of Coledale Beach? In what way did your location influence your project?
It is my local beach. The project explores identity, connection and `genius loci’ or sense of place by engaging with the story of the Coledale sea pool. It is in part about dialogue, community and bringing people together as happened on the various in situ rock platform constructions.
What are three things most people don’t know about you?
If I told you, then everyone would know!
For more of Lizzie’s work, check out her website.