Elysha Rei is a practicing visual artist, curator and art event coordinator currently residing in Brisbane. Her passion for the arts extends from making, exhibiting and curating art, to managing cultural spaces and community events. With a successful installation at the BrisAsia festival in her wake, she’s looking forward to presenting a workshop showcasing her unique paste-up style at the upcoming ArtizPUBLIC@Toowoomba. Today we had a chance to sit down with her to talk about what makes her artistic self tick.
Hi Elysha! Thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions. To start off with, would you mind telling me what inspires you to create?
I have a collection of drawings, pictures, clippings and an ideas bank scattered between journals, folders and around my home. I’ve always got a thirst to make something and find that I go a bit stir crazy if I’m between projects. I do get inspired by the thought of learning about something new in the process of it – whether it be about exploring new geographical territory, cultures or even something about myself with family history or personal growth.
Oh great! Tell me, what first got you interested in your particular artform? Who inspires you?
My paste-ups take a lot of their inspiration from the US street artist SWOON aka Caledonia Curry. SWOON is a classically trained artist in drawing and printmaking. She felt quite alienated when she first moved to New York. After starting to paste her beautiful prints and drawings on the walls in the streets she really started to find her artistic voice. I love how each of her works are interwoven with important stories and messages, and the paste-up process has really allowed her to engage with a wider audience across the world.
So what was your first ‘big break’ as an artist?
My first big break was when I landed a commission by a Curator in Brisbane for the 12 Days of Christmas Installation in King George Square. It involved creating an installation piece using a giant Styrofoam number ‘1’ for the first line in the Christmas Carol – ‘A partridge in a pear tree’. My idea included putting a miniature clothesline on top of the number with a bird and pairs of socks pegged to it – referencing that point in my life as a domestic stay-at-home mum, and the clothesline being a ‘pair’ tree with socks hanging all over it. It was the first time I had one of my ideas accepted and fully financed. I even had an assistant!
That sounds incredible! Tell me – what advice would you give to aspiring artists?
Juggling an arts practice with the rest of your life can be a challenge. Definitely build confidence in your ideas, your mistakes and your desired pathway – whether that be from making and exhibiting in galleries, or doing public art projects or installations. Learning to say no to things can also be a really important skill to have.
Any path you choose will have to be carved out by you – meaning that there is no step-by-step process that fits everyone. This makes it quite challenging at times but also very rewarding when you can finally get to a place where you are satisfied with the work you are making and the opportunities that come from it.
Elysha Rei will be presenting a workshop on paste-up art during our upcoming Young Artist Development program.
5 Apr @ 5:00 pm – 8 Apr @ 6:00 pm
Flying Arts Alliance and USQ are joining First Coat to bring you ArtizPUBLIC@Toowoomba. Over three days young artists will take part in a program of contemporary street art styles and gain valuable insight into further training, education and career opportunities in the arts.
Bookings close 4 March.