Q: Hey Steel! Please tell us a little about yourself?
A: My name is Steel … like the metal, don’t ask about it! I’m nineteen, born and raised in Adelaide and very bored of it. I’m a Visual Arts student at Adelaide Central School of Art and I’m learning French in my spare time. I am also a mum of two French bulldogs.
Q: What form does your inspiration take? Is it people, travel, atmosphere, historical figures, memories or something else?
A: I think my inspiration comes from everything. It depends on what I’m focusing on at the time and what medium I’m looking at. I guess at the moment, the theme that I’m enjoying is houses and abandoned houses… and the emotional connection that people have with buildings. Exploring kind of sparked that, I was driving around and I got my licence and these abandoned houses kept popping up all over the place. It was really exciting to explore somewhere that was once inhabited and observe the way that someone else lived, but also question why it had been abandoned as well.
Q: How would you describe your style and its progression throughout the years?
A: I think earlier, in Year 12, my work was more collage based and mixed media. It was also more cartoony and had a lot of angst vibes. Over the years I think my work has changed to the medium of painting and I have been enjoying a quite brushy sort of expressive painting because I can’t paint anything realistically. I’m really bad at it! So, I thought I might as well accept that everything is not going to be perfect.
Q: Can you please describe your artistic and creative process, i.e. from lingering idea to putting it into practice?
A: The abandoned houses is a good topic to explain that with. It starts with exploring something in the real world and seeing what feeling it evokes and sort of figuring out why it’s important to me. From there, there will often be photographs and sort of sketches that I produce because sketches are the fastest way for me to get things out and experiment with style. Also, something that I like to do is exercises like, ‘draw this house with only four lines’ and see what I can produce from that and then from there I consider all the aspects I want to look at and refine all the ideas for one project. So I came to the idea of painting abandoned houses because that’s the medium that I’m really trying to work on and improve.
Q: Why do you make art? How does it make you feel?
A: I think the reason that I make art is that I’m perpetually trying to get something out of myself and if I sit with something for too long, bad things happen, so I just got to get it out of my system. It is a release, even if I’m creating art and I’m not releasing something specific, I’m still releasing and it’s still making me feel good. I think creating art is a sense of accomplishment because you go through the struggle of taking hours to figure it out. You go through the stages of your painting looking shit and then looking more shit and then finally looking a little bit good. It’s extremely rewarding when you can create something that you can be proud of. Even though I’m not proud of everything I make, I’m proud of the fact that I am making them.
Q: Please tell us about your recent work or collaborations. Any other projects in the work?
A: I have three exhibitions coming up. One is at Mixed Spice Gallery off Grenfell Street. I am a part of a group exhibition called Lost and Found and in that exhibition, I will be producing some expressive paintings of abandoned houses I visited. In September, I will be producing some abstract works for the café, Sibling. In October, I will be curating and featuring in an exhibition called Decay, it’s going to be at my uni. It’s a mixed bag of artists, they are all going to be producing different things, but the ideas are kind of underdeveloped at the moment, so we’re working on that.
Q: Where do you see your art practice taking you in the future?
A: I think it’s grim that people always assume an art degree leads nowhere. It’s not true, I see my artwork contributing to the art scene in the world. Just loosely, my art will be in the world for people to see, whether it sells, whether it doesn’t. Professionally I want to be a tattoo artist, so that will be my daily artistic job and on the side, I will produce art for me.
Q: Where can we find more of your work (social media, personal website, current/upcoming exhibitions, etc.)?
Q: Tell us about your side get up with earrings and do you think you will do more on that?
A: The earrings happened because I had a lot of birthdays coming up and buying presents was going to be too expensive, so I wanted to do something personal for them and from there, I just had all this leftover clay so I thought ‘hey! Let’s give this a go!’ and then they all sold. So then it was just a cycle of, I guess people like these, so I’ll keep making them. I think making earrings kind of talked to what I like to do with abstract painting because I created earrings with a lot of abstract forms and colours.
— Shannen Wilkinson