Interview: Leonie Robison
Luca Curci talks with Leonie Robison during VISIONS, third event of CANVAS INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2023 in Venice, at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.
Leonie is a Sydney-based artist with a political bent, specialising in painting and mixed media work. She is passionate about environmental issues including species loss and habitat destruction, as well as human rights issues such as the refugee crisis and female genital mutilation. Leonie’s work tends towards the abstract and reflects her early career in science, having attained a Bachelor of Science degree and worked in industrial laboratories after leaving school. Leonie has also taught in high schools and TAFE (technical and further education) college.
She co-founded and runs the art group, the Lyrebird Arts Community, which was founded in 2016 to support and raise the profile of Sydney’s artists. Leonie loves being in her studio making art and also enjoys spending time with her husband four sons and their partners. Luca Curci – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most Leonie Robison- My two loves have always been science and art, art and science. After leaving school I completed a degree in science, majoring in Chemistry and Biology. I worked in laboratories in industry for a number of years before starting a family. With the advent of children, I thought that a career in teaching would be a better option, with more suitable hours and holidays in line with the children. However, this became untenable and after the appearance of a fourth son, I decided to study art formally, eventually earning a Masters’s degree in Art. The biggest influences on my work are social issues, inequities, and environmental problems.
LC – Which subject are you working on?
LR – Over the last 5 or 6 years I have been making work around issues of species loss and environmental degradation. These have been abstract and semi-abstract paintings and drawings taking inspiration from colours, patterns and flight of endangered Australian butterflies and birds. During the past months I have started a new body of work, tentatively entitled The Journal of Lost Opportunities. This stems from the idea that humanity has missed many opportunities for interventions in trajectories of destruction. Forests have been unnecessarily cut down, intensive farming creates massive amounts of pollution and effluent, land clearing causes erosion and rising salt levels in the soil. All of these lead to species loss, which in turn causes further damage.
LC – How do you choose your subjects? Is it a reasoned or an instinctive process?
LR – My method of choosing subject matter is very much a reasoned one, driven by issues that concern me. When starting a new body of work, I spend a considerable amount of time researching the topic, taking photos, and sketching layouts and different ways to abstract the subject matter. This can take as long as making the art pieces.
LC – Do you use art to express something in particular? Is it your medium of expression?
LR – Art is my chosen medium of expression, although sometimes I write as well. I find a visual representation of a concept in an aesthetically pleasing way, especially if it portrays something negative, is an effective way to reach an audience.
LC – How do you feel when you see your work completed?
LR – I feel a huge amount of satisfaction when a work is completed.
LC – We were attracted by your last artistic production, has the artwork presented been created for the exhibition or as a part of preexisting works?
LR – The work presented is part of an existing body of work that I have worked on over a number of years, though these were some of the more recent pieces.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this exhibition? How did it inspire you?
LR – The concept of Visions was thought-provoking and gave artists a chance to express their “visions” of the world, through their social, physical, and cultural identities. I interpreted this through the lens of my concerns for our environment, both physical and societal. These are the types of concepts that have inspired, and continue to inspire, the art that I make.
LC – What do you think about the organisation of ITSLIQUID GROUP event?
LR – The event was in the main well organised. Itsliquid is very professional and experienced in running exhibitions and events.
LC – Would you suggest a collaboration with us? What do you think about our services?
LR – Itsliquid offers an interesting array of services though I don’t feel I am in a position to partake in a collaboration at the moment.
LC – What are your suggestions about our services? Is there something more we can provide to artists?
LR – I think you provide a good range of services.