For the second consecutive year the Studio ARTISTS have been ‘cushioning up’ and getting close with Koskela. Studio ARTISTS is an initiative of Studio ARTES Northside, a not-for-profit, independent organisation offering professional development to artists with disability. As a collective, Studio ARTISTS seek to build community support and facilitate events to enable the wider community to engage with the artist on a personal level. Members from the program have exhibited in both national and international exhibitions. We love this group of artists!
Their group exhibition showcases the artists’ first foray into the field of soft furnishing and interior décor. The show features an eclectic range of work, and is designed to showcase the Studio ARTISTS breadth of ability in the textile realm. The artists undertook a month long residency in our creative workshop under the guidance of screen printing extrorinaire Kate Banazi. Fabric produced during the residency was returned to Studio ARTISTS Hornsby based studio where it has been cut, stitched and sculpted into the range of soft sculptures and cushions currently on show.
We caught up with them to chat about the artists, their process, and what’s next for the group.
Koskela: The exhibition is made up of a number of different art mediums, from drawing and painting, to screen printing and textile design. How have the Studio Artes group become so interested in so many art forms?
Studio Artists: The Studio ARTISTS collective is all about responding to and developing each artists passion and particular art practice. Each Studio ARTIST has spent years developing their practice in Studio ARTES larger core art program. Like all artists, over time after experimenting with different art forms and mediums they have discovered what they are into…whether that be comics, installation, drawing, oil painting or sticky tape!
The Studio ARTISTS program links the artists involved with artists working in the broader art world who have the skills to push their practice further. We work with really diverse artists and arts organisations from printmakers to puppeteers. It is all driven by the interest of the Studio ARTISTS. We end up with exhibitions comprised of different art forms and styles because the Studio ARTISTS themselves each have different interests.
We work as a collective to embrace and extend each individual’s passions and preferences.
K: Can you tell us a little bit about the collaborative process involved in creating these works?
SA: The Studio ARTISTS usually work only on their own unique and individual pieces of art. ‘Cushion Up’ involves the first series of work where the artists actually shared art pieces and contributed communally to single works.
The work featured in Cushion Up has travelled epic and diverse paths to arrive at Koskela.
Much of the work was born in Koskela’s creative studios. In 2013 and 2014 about eight Studio ARTISTS spent a month screen-printing fabric using their own designs with screen-printing extraordinaire Kate Banazi. We then took this fabric back to our Hornsby based art studio, and artists from across our programs worked together to construct unique soft sculptures and cushions from the work.
Collaborations from every avenue have contributed to the work on show in ‘Cushion Up’. The Studio ARTISTS have connected with artists outside the collective such as Kate Banazi, they have worked together at the print table and the sewing machine, and the collective also recruited digital printers ‘Think Positive’ to produce some of the fabric. A special thanks must go to textile artist Jill OConnor who organized a volunteer team to sew all the digitally printed cushions.
K: For this exhibition, you’ve moved more into the realm of product design, with a number of unique and limited edition products available for purchase. What is the benefit of this for Studio Artes, and what do you see being the long term outcomes of creating products as well as unique artworks?
SA: The contemporary and striking graphic style of much Studio ARTISTS work makes it ideal for use in a variety of design settings including on fabric and home wares. It is fantastic to see this potential in action at Koskela.
Beyond the pure visual pleasure this work brings, creating products from Studio ARTISTS work has the potential to bring a much more sustainable source of revenue to the collective. Studio ARTES is a not for profit, independent organisation and it absolutely must raise funds to sustain itself. Deriving income through the creative work of our artists is a testament to the real talent of artists with disability, and a sign of the genuine and gorgeous contribution such artists can make to society, culture…and the economy!
K: What’s next for Studio Artes?
SA: So much! One of our artists, Daniel Kim, has just been awarded an AMP Future Leaders grant to develop his career as a professional illustrator. We are soo excited to watch his progress throughout 2015.
Studio ARTIST Robert ‘Thom’ Smith has just received an Arts NSW Visual Arts grant to create a collaborative installation piece with artist Harriet Body, and again we enthusiastically anticipate their 2015 exhibition.
And, we are currently putting the final touches on the first ever Studio ARTISTS publication. Produced by Boccolatte, the book features the work of four Studio ARTISTS and includes essays from Lisa Havilah and Professor Colin Rhodes.
Follow the Studio ARTISTS on facebook to receive an invite to the book launch in 2015.