Artist Inquisition: Lana Thymianidis
As part of our ongoing Artist Inquisition series we spoke to Lana Thymianidis whose solo exhibition 'Time and Nature' is currently on exhibition until October 27 2016 at Brunswick Street Gallery.'Time and Nature' is a beautiful series of bronze sculptures that explore ideas on authenticity and craftsmanship in our modern world.
Bronze sculptures by Lana Thymianidis, all rights reserved.
Who is Lana Thymianidis?
The people I work with call me an absurd artist, the artists I work closely with call me a corporate sell-out. Whatever you want me to be.
Can you please tell us about your exhibition Time and Nature showing at Brunswick Street Gallery?
Time and Nature presents a series of bronze sculptures depicting fragments of nature captured in a moment during their decay. Bronze, a material dating back to 3300 BC has traditionally been a material used by the wealthy for its long-lasting qualities and lavish appearance. When we deem an object worthy of a material we are tying a level of importance to it and as the artist I have chosen to eternalise these fragments of nature we so often overlook and elevate their perceived value. As humans intersect with nature constantly, so have I with the appropriation of once living matter.
Is there an artwork in this exhibition that you’re most proud of, or one that has a particularly interesting backstory?
One that resonates with me most is probably the scorpion, it’s a bit of a tangent from the rest of this collection of work. When I was trekking in the Borneo jungle I found a scorpion that my guide was excited to handle, seeing the light bounce off of the plates on its body as it crawled over his fingers was awe inspiring. Soon after I fell really ill, I was paralysed from the waist down and convinced I’d never get out of the jungle. During my horrifying hallucinations I kept thinking back to that last hike, the scorpion’s illustrious form grounded me during that time. This was one of my first bronze castings, I initially approached metal casting without a comprehensive knowledge of the technical process but found myself keen to experiment with using the frame as a part of the final work.
Can you tell us more about your technique and the materials you use?
Bronze casting is a time consuming and demanding practice if you’re not outsourcing help, it can take 3 months to fully finish a piece and I’ve been quite adamant about doing it solo start to finish. It’s quite a slow and deliberate process but I find bronze to be a forgiving material unlike stone. If I’m chipping away at marble or firing a ceramic sculpture unfortunately some mistakes can’t be undone. There is certainly a lot of risk in the process of lost-wax casting for bronze but I’m comfortable once the sculpture is in bronze form I feel completely in control. Everything from starring into the little blue flame while welding to the hours spent grinding metal down to get a texture back, it’s all quite meditative.
Using a technique called an ‘organic burnout’ I literally incinerates the original matter in order to obtain a bronze cast of them. The violent and destructive process of casting the forms, many of them once living fragments of nature destroys their original matter but eternalises their essence. The meaning tied to bronze as this glorified and lavish material is something I love to toy with in the way I present my works. These seemingly inconsequential fragments of life are now presented as valuable and resilient forms that will continue to exist as nature and humanity crumbles around them.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
A wise woman once said olive oil can solve any problem except your HECS debt.
How does living and working in Melbourne influence your work?
Travel is a big part of my life but I was born and bred in Melbourne. I’ve lived in the United States and recently I’ve been studying and working in Europe which has brought me to see Melbourne as home base. I used to feel like this city influenced me to create art that was quite slavish to European ideologies, but every time I get physical distance from Melbourne I really get a grasp of how unique things are here, institutional galleries to bush doofs inspire me. I feel grounded in this city and it’s the place I feel most inspired to practice sculpture.
Regardless of where I’ll find myself over the next few years, Melbourne is always going to remain familiar. Melbourne is like a friend, not the kind of person that says ‘goodbye’ and grips you with sorrow and sadness, it’s the kind of person that says ‘see you later’.
Who or what do you turn to for inspiration on days when creativity just isn’t flowing?
There isn’t a particular type of person or place that consistently gives me the urge to create, my sources for inspiration are always changing like my practice is. Immersing myself in nature seems to give me a sense of clarity, sometimes I just need to get off the grid for a few days and collect my thoughts at the beach or in the bush. Studying patterns in nature creates a desire in me to document what I see through replication; whether it be the impressions left behind by termites, or the tide of the ocean. Other times pursuing materials for my practice becomes an inspiring adventure in itself. Recently I found myself hunting abandoned bee hives for the perfectly symmetrical and organic wax, ideal for bronze casting. A problem I encountered quickly is how hard it is to determine if they’re abandoned until you’re up there… That’s a story within itself.
What question do you wish we'd asked you, and what would your answer have been?
'What holds you back from making art?' Stress kills creativity for me. But stepping on a snail barefoot is the most volatile sensation that stops me from wanting to do anything for a long time.
Time and Nature runs from October 14 - 27 at Brunswick Street Gallery, in Fitzroy. (More info here)
--- Words: Lauren Guymer Images: Courtesy of the artist.