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Category Archives: Contributed Stories
This new blog format of “handing the microphone around” is reallllllyy working for me, and this post is the perfect example way.
I’ve followed Annie Smits Sandano since the very beginnings of of Studio Home but this is the first time that I’ve had the chance to share her own words and thoughts with you. And while we can thank Dunedin based, Gallery De Novo for taking the time to do some digging with Annie, it got me thinking even further on perhaps what Liz Fraser might have to share as well! The result is a nice juicy peep into the world of a roving NZ artist and a galleryist with some great things to share about following your creative dreams and the hotspots of Dunedin. There’s a little everything here!
The thing that fascinates me most about Annie is the way her work has varied over the years but with each new turn, she nails it to the extreme. If you were to lay out the best of the best from her natives and printing years, to her round, colour rich abstract paintings to her newly issued ethereal watercolour, ink and gouche pieces….well I don’t think you would pick they were from ONE prolific artist. But I do think you would fall in love with each series individually.
Read on for some insights into two professionals of our local art world.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background as an artist:
My visual interests and pursuits are quite broad, but I think if I distill my direction down to it’s bare elements, I am most fascinated by the basic interaction between line and colour.
Currently I’m exploring this through two main mediums: painting and printmaking. Having studied printmaking at Elam at the University of Auckland I’m very much interested in participating in, and continuing the tradition of printmaking in New Zealand, especially one as rich as the one we’re lucky to have. I love everything about it – the process, the tactility of the materials, understanding pigment behaviour and learning how to mix colours, the interaction between ink and paper and the endless possibilities for exploring.
My painting has become a more prominent part of my practice in recent years. I’ve drawn from process that is part of my printmaking and let that influence my painting. The treatment of materials, subtle surface textures, flat colour, sharp lines, stencils and vibrant colours have all spilled into my painting. I’ve worked hard to hone my palette and develop a rich and dynamic visual language.
How has living in New Zealand influenced your art:
Life and culture in New Zealand is the core part of how I relate to the wold and experiences. It is therefore the core part of most of what I try to observe and then reflect within my work. New Zealand icons, references, sensations, flora, fauna and language are all constantly being pulled into my distilling process – I take these, dissect, re-formulate, hybridise with my own mixed cultural background and referencing, turn upside down, and move around in my head till there is an idea that I want to translate into an image using my own personal visual vocabulary.
Who or what inspires you in your artwork:
I’m endlessly excited about colour, form and material. I am extremely eclectic in what I find conceptually and aesthetically interesting.
Low and High Art, people, travel, music, science, nature, history, design,
I’m curious about it all and I am always very happy to find
something new and exciting.
I also think that an artist’s attitude to what they’re working on and how they make the viewer feel can be very inspiring.
At the moment I’m finding exciting the work of Anny Wang, Kushana Bush, Beatriz Milhazes, Joakim Ojanen and Joshua Yeldham.
Tell us about where your artwork has taken you in the last year and how this has shaped your art:
After much planning and organising, I spent the year travelling and letting the world rush in and influence me. I set out to do three main things: connect new people within my field, learn new techniques and see as much art as I could.
I spent a month at the Australian Print Workshop in Melbourne, where I was able to develop a series of new techniques. I also was able to visit some of my favourite contemporary Australian Art galleries and meet some amazingly talented and lovely artists from Melbourne.
I then spent over 5 months in Italy between Florence and Rome. This time was characterised by watercolour and oil painting. During an intensive summer residency there I was able to explore the medium of oil painting for the first time, and I followed that with a couple of months creating a suite of new works on paper – watercolour and gouache with ink works. I also explored countless galleries, museums and churches, and was forced to eat the most delicious pasta, pizza and gelato to keep me going.
I’ve also spent a month in the outskirts of Barcelona in Spain where I was in a full time residency creating new works and learning new printmaking techniques. Again, visiting as many galleries, museums and churches as I could here too. I was also very lucky to make amazing and talented friends from Spain, Norway, the USA and Australia.
My time abroad has been completely invaluable, I’ve learned so much in such a short space of time and my experiences will without question inform what work I produce next. I have an arsenal of new techniques, and a brain exploding with the new things I’ve seen…I can re-calibrate my practice once again, infusing it with all of these exciting new things.
What is it like living and painting/printing in Europe? Day to day life:
Let me re-phrase that.
It’s been surreal.
I’ve worked really hard, which is the pace expected at the places I’ve worked in, and one which I find works for me. During week days I pretty much work full time (and often longer than the usual 9-5) and then weekends are for gallery hopping and museum visiting. There are loads of exhibitions which open in the evenings during the week, so it was fun to go to those too. The food has also been a highlight. Did I mention I was forced to eat the most delicious pasta, pizza and gelato to keep me going?
Being able to drink in Rome, Florence or Barcelona while going about your day-to-day and work is pretty incredible too.
What are your plans for this year:
I’ve started the year with a residency in Spain, followed by 2 months in London where I’m making work at London Print Studio. I have two solo exhibitions in New Zealand which I’ll be creating new works for, and an exciting textile design collaboration in the works (still under wraps but am very excited about this one!).
That’s just the tip of the ice-berg. There is always a long list of on-going prints which need to me made and sent to galleries, group exhibitions and commissions which make up the continuous flow which I love.
Then – to complete this interesting circle of artsy minds, I also threw a couple of questions at Liz Fraser of Gallery De Novo.
Top spots to eat/drink in Dunedin?
Oh we are spoilt for choice in our neighbourhood for places to coffee and ea!
The Perc and Morning Magpie are two favourite places to grab coffee on the way into the gallery and even better when we have time to sit in and enjoy the surroundings of these bustling Dunedin cafes.
For very special nights out we can’t look past Bacchus Winebar with impeccable food and wine and amazing views overlooking the Octagon.
People don’t know this Dunedin but……
Well, people who live in Dunedin do know this – it is a vibrant, creative, thriving little city.
Dunedin has all the benefits of a big city but feels more like a large community.
Everyday, visitors to the gallery tell us how much they have loved their stay in Dunedin and particularly the artistic vibe …. if you haven’t yet made it to Dunedin then put it on your itinerary!!
What led you choose your profession?
I always LOVED the visual arts and this was fueled by the most passionate Art History teacher in High School and I knew by the time I left school that I wanted to work in the gallery world. I studied Art History at Otago University and worked in dealer and public art galleries in Dunedin and then London.
Richelle Byers (my business partner) and I had very similar journeys and whenever our paths crossed we always said we would one day open a gallery in Dunedin. 12 years later and the rest is history!
Best advice you have been given?
I’ll actually tell you the worst advice I was given by numerous people when I decided to pursue an Arts degree …. “don’t do a Bachelor of Arts” “why are you wasting your time with Art History” “what will you do with an Art History degree”….
WELL – luckily I didn’t take this on board and in fact it made me more determined to follow my dream and it was the best decision I made. Sadly the arts are not promoted as much as other sectors but if this is what you really want to do then follow your heart.
You can learn more about:
I’m really stoked to present you with our first contributed story inline with Studio Home’s new richer, looser format celebrating our NZ/AUS creative industry.
This one comes from Tessuti, a beautiful store based in Auckland but doors wide open to the world and their detail driven customers online. Owner Ali McIntosh has cemented herself a loyal following due to her ongoing passion for artisan made products and celebrating the makers themselves. Obviously this is something we share too!
So its a pleasure to bring you an interview the Tessuti recently undertook with Oliver Höglund and Ryan Roberts of SØKTAS Glass Studio.
Read on below for their interview plus some extra questions we asked all of them.
“Glass artist and designer Oliver Höglund of SØKTAS Glass Studio has been working with glass since 1999, a craft that was handed down to him from both his father and grandfather, who learnt glass blowing at the well known Kosta Boda Glassworks in Sweden.
Creating beautifully sculptural forms with molten glass, Nelson (Oliver) and Melbourne-based (Ryan) SØKTAS Glass Studio practice a free form technique, executed by hand, which results in a finish that is both unique and signature to SØKTAS. We are very excited to announce the arrival of their favourite piece: the Vølt Glass Pendant…
How did you both meet?
We both arrived and left Norway at the same time. Without knowing each other for the first 3 years there we eventually met in our final year. We met through mutual friends and we became mates straight away. We were both feeling it was time to move on and return to our roots so we came up with an idea that we have been working on since.
Can you tell us about your studio space?
The glass studio operates with a pretty consistent pattern when making the glass. The afternoon is spent “loading” and melting the raw glass material, which is then melted overnight which can be used to create in the morning. An early start the next day is vital in setting up the studio to begin the glass making process which typically lasts from around 6 am to late in combination with the melting cycle and the cold working process.
What would be some of your most stands out collaborations or projects?
Our most memorable projects/colabs would have to be starting our first showroom here in Richmond, Melbourne. Another great colab we have is with Casa Amuk clothing — awesome people who make great quality clothing, it just felt like the perfect combo, so that’s been great so far.
What SØKTAS piece is your personal favourite, and how do you suggest this best be enjoyed?
Our favourite pendant would be our VØLT pendant light. We like it because its design fits with the original edison filament bulb, the refraction’s from the filaments work well with the glass and the warm glow produces a nice, chill atmosphere.
What was the most recent thing that inspired you?
Watching Stephen Curry win the NBA’s first unanimous MVP award really inspired us to strive to be the best versions of ourselves.”
STUDIO HOME WITH RYAN ROBERTS OF SØKTAS:
I can’t live without…..
We both can’t live with out the ocean.
My top spots to eat in my town is ?
Feast of Merit, awesome feed and great staff. Richmond, Melbourne.
Favourite place to visit in Australia?
Yamba or anywhere around the North Coast of NSW.
Favourite thing to do in your downtime
We both love to Surf and Snowboard.
What do you think about when you are alone in the car?
Melbourne is a hectic place to drive, so we’re pretty busy just trying not to crash.
Where is your special place?
In the ocean.
Best advice you have been given?
STUDIO HOME WITH ALI MCINTOSH OF TESSUTI
Best childhood memory
The smell of fresh cut grass. When we arrived at our bach in the summer Dad’s first mission was to cut the grass! And that smell takes me right back to being 3 years old and arriving at the beach for summer holidays.
Favourite spot in your home
This will always be the kitchen area. I love entertaining and having family and friends over, and I really like it when everyone piles in and helps. It’s conversational, and when your hands are busy it seems easy to chat about anything and everything.
Bring all the problems to the kitchen counter – we’ll get them sorted in no time!!
Values you hold dear
Kindness, trust, dependability, inclusiveness, and ethical business practice. It’s all simple stuff really! But you need to ‘walk the talk.’
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