ARTIST IN RESIDENCE – LAURIE OXENFORD
Brewing Local Artist Winner Laurie Oxenford will continue as our next Artist In Residence this month in the Burleigh Taphouse. Laurie won the 2019 BLA Judges Award for $3,000 to help fulfil her dream adventure to Spain and France this year for an art residency. Laurie will be working on her art during Taphouse trading hours until mid February, so be sure to stop by her art space and say hello!
Congratulations on winning the Brewing Local Artist Judges Choice Award, can you tell us a little about how you will spend the $3000 prize money?
Thank you – firstly thanks to Burleigh Brewing for this amazing opportunity! I’m so humbled to be recognised by leaders in the creative industries on the Gold Coast and awarded a prize that will help me create better and work harder.
At the end of April I am going to France for 12 months to study, work and travel, thanks to the USQ Bellmaine French Appreciation Travelling Scholarship and now Burleigh Brewing. During this time I will be immersing myself in professional and industry related experiences to learn and grow as an artist. I will be undertaking an internship at Triangle gallery in Marseilles and completing a number of artist residencies in France and Spain. The prize money from BLA will help me afford these opportunities and stay a little longer in Europe to work and study!
Where did you place the Burleigh Golden Growler trophy?
My growler trophy sits on a shelf in my living room where everyone can see it, alongside other treasured artworks and objects I’ve collected. I’m really proud of it!
What do you like about the Brewing Local Artist event?
I loved the opportunity to meet other artists working on the Gold Coast, many of whom I hadn’t had the chance to connect with before. Being new(ish) to the Gold Coast I hadn’t met a great number of other artists since being here, so I really loved that aspect of the BLA experience. Seeing their work and the ideas being explored is inspiring and creates great context for how rich the creative community is here on the Coast. It’s always a privilege to share my work with new people and places. It’s always awesome to see local businesses providing a platform for emerging artists and nurturing a creative community.
The Brewery was quite an alternative place to show my work, I really enjoyed the install and seeing my work framed differently. All the artists involved in the BLA event were invited to take the Brewery tour as well, which was a very good time and I can recommend doing it if you can!
Where are you from? Have you grown up on the Gold Coast?
I grew up on a lavender farm in a regional town called Inglewood in south-west Queensland. My childhood was spent helping my parents out on the farm with the lavender and the garden, swimming in our creek and hanging out with my siblings. I went to high-school and then university in Toowoomba, before relocating to the Gold Coast to be with my partner and look for new creative opportunities. While at university I joined First Coat Studios (Toowoomba) as their Lead Curator and resident artist after volunteering at First Coat Festival. There I found the most amazing artist community/family, growing into my practice and style thanks to the mentorship and critical discussion constantly offered. Being in that environment incubated my passion for public art, artist communities and accessible creative opportunities, which I’ve continued to pursue.
Just after I moved here I joined the Art-Work Agency family through the City of Gold Coast Professional Attachment Program before moving into their Marketing Coordinator role. It’s wonderful to work alongside people who are deeply passionate about what they do. I absolutely love it there and I’ve felt at home ever since day 1!
When did your interest for art and your type of art begin?
My art floats between the spaces of minimalist, conceptual and assemblage art, sometimes touching on or combining principles and process from all of those areas. My focus is on materials, functional objects and urban environments (think construction sites), space and how all of these things are constructed by context. My work is not emotional or self-expressive but driven by a deep interest in materials and how they are used. Basically, I use contemporary techniques including painting (mostly acrylic house paints), assemblage, deconstruction and positioning recycled materials to alter functional found objects. I don’t really use traditional art making processes and I rarely plan works far in advance, preferring to let found objects, chance and instinct drive my outcomes. I also consider how context establishes new dialogues between artworks, space and viewers, which has led me to a passion for public art and exhibiting work in non-traditional spaces.
Initially I started university in a Business degree, which ended up definitely not being for me, so I moved into a Bachelor of Creative Arts. I’ve always had an interest in art and creating things. I’ve been encouraged throughout my life – from drawing as a kid, to helping my dad/grandad make things in the shed and finally in art classes throughout my schooling.
In my first year studying art we did a workshop with recycled road signs, experimenting with welding, joinery, carving and assembling materials to create sculptures. From there my interest in functional and recycled industrial materials started. I always wanted to be a painter like the Greats (Michaelangelo etc.) but that kind of work didn’t make a lot of sense conceptually for me and lacked the meaningfulness and the multi-dimensionality that working with industrial materials, space and context did for me. I play with deconstruction and reconstruction of function, purpose and intention, constantly considering the value of materials in art and then my role as the artist in challenging this perception for my audience. There is a kind of obstreperousness or perversity to using things to do something they’re not meant to, that is endlessly satisfying.
My practice also extends to curating exhibitions and projects.
Is there anyone who inspires you to do what you do?
My parents – who have always encouraged my career choices and have worked so hard to support my dreams! My partner always supports my sometimes-ridiculous ideas and helps me with the technicalities of making them come to life.
I’ve also been very lucky to be surrounded by hard-working, generous and motivated artists, who have inspired me to push my practice and myself. Particularly Grace Dewar and David Usher.
In regards to art making I admire many practitioners, including but not limited Rosalie Gascoigne, IanBurn, Lorenzo Catoni, Georgia O’Keefe, Aaron Chapman, Aedan Lee, Donald Judd, Marcel Duchamp, Luke Chiswell and Carl Andre.
Tell us a little about your new solo exhibition coming up in Brisbane this February?
‘Implied’ is my 4th solo exhibition and an exploration of purpose and intention in the construction of meaning around discarded functional materials and objects. The show is a collection of assemblage installations, sculptures, prints and paintings to be installed in The Third Quarter Ochre Gallery. Context is half the construction of meaning. I explore the presence of found functional objects existing in spaces, removed from the context that defines their purpose. Broken, expired and discarded objects, such as road signs or plastic sheeting, tools or containers, that are in a current existential purgatory will be documented and transferred in to a context where their value is to be reimagined by me and decided upon by the viewer.
Functional materials are generally used for the actions they perform rather than their aesthetic. In exploring their aesthetic value as well as their unexplored capabilities in alternative ways, they are renewed. I use “the artist’s role” in recreating meaning and relevance for functional objects as artworks in a gallery space.
Why do you love what you do and why do you think it is important for others to find something they are passionate about?
I love what I do, art is the way I choose to understand the world and communicate the things that fascinate, challenge and inspire me. I’m really passionate about supporting other artists/makers and the creative industries, as they are the way we document, create meaning and communicate. Being able to pursue my passion makes me very excited to get out of bed in the morning.
Art has a way of changing perspective and experience, facilitating and creating that is my passion.
How has your art helped shape your thinking on sustainability?
My practice relies (almost solely) on found functional objects and industrial materials, which are almost always recycled from dumpsters, second hand shops or my contacts. Being conscious of what I’m using to make my artworks is really important to me, as I don’t believe that my arts practice needs to or should have a negative effect on our planet. Used materials present unique possibilities and can be transformed or positioned how I choose – old things can create new dialogues. Even now I’m still reusing materials I found years ago. I don’t believe that sustainability and conscious consumption should be a selling point or a perk, it should be a given.
Using recycled materials in my arts practice has helped me learn to think laterally, problem solve and use what I have, which I’ve applied to me life in many ways outside the studio.
What are you showcasing as Artist In Residence in the brewery?
Due to the nature of my work, I won’t be showcasing finished artworks so much as working and creating in the brewery space. A lot of my making and planning actually happens in-situ, the studio is more of a planning/finishing/brewing stage. I am an emerging artist as well as a curator and producer so my work and processes are very diverse, depending on what projects I’m working on. I’ll be spending some time here each week as I work toward my 4th solo exhibition at The Third Quarter (Brisbane) opening February 7 and showing until February 20. I’ll also be designing my first public mural and writing a critical essay for a show I’m in alongside photographers Aaron Chapman and Jayden Stevens at Level Up Gallery in Coolangatta. If I have time in between these projects I’ll be experimenting with some new paintings and small sculptural works!
In addition to your art residency in Europe this year, do you have any other art dreams you aspire to achieve?
Post-Europe I plan to deliver a mural festival focused on ocean conservation on the Gold Coast. Eventually I’d like to open a gallery and shared studio space for emerging and established artists, run as sustainably as possible while fostering a culture of contribution and community support. I would also like to continue working at Art-Work Agency, of course!
An international exhibition and a public sculpture work are goals too!
What do you enjoy about Burleigh Brewing and do you have a favourite beer or style of beer?
This place has the best vibes, whatever is going on in the Brewery there is always a sweet energy and plenty of beer. The team here are also really welcoming and fun, so I’ve enjoyed getting to know them!
When it comes to beer I always get the Burleigh Twisted Palm, it tastes like summer and the beach to me. The Burleigh Wild Berry is a newfound favourite, as well as the Burleigh High Tide. So many options, so much deliciousness!