Leonardo Uribe was born in Colombia and has now been in Australia for several years and resides with his partner and fellow artist Sophie Conolly in Wentworth Falls. Leo's artwork centres on themes of identity as being part of two very different cultures. As he says in his artist statement - 'As an immigrant in Australia, my work has moved towards focusing on both my past in Colombia and my present in Australia. My past - my family, my house, my town, my religion, and my stories. My present - my status as an immigrant. In the same way that I made my Assemblages and Collages in the early days of my career, my current work is a union of symbolic materials where the memory of my past, my place in both countries, and my identity in the present prevail.'
Many of Leo's artworks he describes as ready-mades where he has collected old wood, mechanical parts, corroded metal and incorporated a very personal aspect in the form of tiny shards of his and his families hair. Several of Leo's assemblages on display at his studio have a dynamic quality in that small motors rock and move elements of the artwork which give the work another dimension... they are a sensory delight and capture the artists skill in creating an aesthetic of nostalgia and the truly original.
Leo has created a series of small portraits made entirely of human hair. So fragile and time consuming are these beautiful works, that I imagined in their creation, many hours of self reflection and time engaging in some type of meditative practice.
Our next studio visit from in Katoomba saw Audrey Rhoda giving an impromptu demonstration of her technique of encaustic painting. Audrey runs workshops throughout the year from her studio/home when she is not travelling and spending time in New York and exhibiting.
Audrey was Born into Apartheid’s Johannesburg in 1949 before immigrating to Australia in 1983. Audrey's website reveals of her process as - 'a unique way of working involving the layering of beeswax and oils which she considers a metaphor for life, a complex accumulation of experiences. Audrey is philosophical about the importance of the process which she considers a metaphor for the constant unknowns in life’s journey. The result depends totally on a commitment to the process, which must be entered into without preconceptions or expectations.'
There is almost no separation between 'life' and 'life as an artist' when you visit Audrey's studio/home. Everywhere you look around the space are artworks or evidence of the process of creating. From the rafters to the floor, artworks hang or lean up against walls immersing you in her sense of play, colour and curious contours of paint.
Audrey's studio/home is purpose built and sits enviably along side spectacular views of the Jamison Valley. I'm sure she never grows tired of such a spectacular vista which she shares with her loyal & well know 16 year old dog called Barbara.
Audrey Rhoda has exhibited extensively Sydney and Melbourne as well as in New York, Los Angeles and Paris. She is currently represented by Charles Hewitt Gallery Sydney. Gallery 1011 Melbourne and Figureworks New York.
A big thank you to Audrey and Leo for being so generous with their time and opening up their studios and showing us their process and work.