‘I think art has the power to transform the way that you look at the world’ – ArtAttack interviews Australian sculptor, Rosalind Lemoh

On 22nd January, 2016, ArtAttack attended the Art Rooms London press preview at the Meliá White House. The event showcased a number of carefully selected emerging artists from all over the world in a unique hotel setting – one artist per hotel room. The result was a village of art and an evening of exciting discovery. 

An artist who’s ‘room’ we never wanted to leave was sculptor, Rosalind Lemoh, who’s work is a beautiful paradox — industrial yet comforting, clean-lined yet nostalgic. Upon seeing it, we knew we had to get an interview with this rising Australian star as soon as possible.

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‘the way we were,’ Rosalind Lemoh; Photo Credit:

Damien Geary

ArtAttack: What is your first memory of art and what made you decide to pursue it as a career?

Rosalind Lemoh: One of my earliest memorable experiences of seeing art was at an Italian Masters exhibition in Sydney and seeing the picture of Judith slaying Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi.  I remember being completely overwhelmed at how vivid, strong and powerful the work was. I felt a sense of awe at the power of the work to make you intensely aware of yourself in the here and now. It was also such an intensely violent and female voice, that i couldn’t help but be completely struck by it.

I decided to pursue art as a career after meeting a family friend who was a sculptor when I was about 14. I remember afternoons passing in her garden without my ever realising the time and it was then that I knew that I was hooked for life.   

AA: Why sculpture?

RL: I love the materiality of sculpture and feel that it is such a direct language in study of form and the way in which it occupies space. My material palette is industrial, tough and contrasted with a polished finish. I love the unlikely combination of materials and the way in which you as an artist can transform objects from the everyday to something else with a voice. All objects have a language. More to the point, I get really frustrated with 2D; I just can’t seem to get by without ripping through the paper!

AA: I personally have fallen in love with your tool box works so selfishly I must ask about them. What was your inspiration for that series — both in the choice of medium and the written messages?

RL: The tool box series are a follow on from my light works that I started in 2014. The intention for this series was to experiment with light as a sculptural material and as a way to articulate form and somehow express the intangible. As with most of my works using found objects, I fell in love with these toolboxes (which were originally a friend’s grandfathers). After finding them, I sat with them for a long time time before coming up with the text. For me they are quite soft works and a little bit melancholic. They are caught in a process of opening and closing , revealing and concealing, which I think we as humans, do so much of. 

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‘the way we were,’ Rosalind Lemoh, progress shot; Photo Credit: Damien Geary

AA: You refer to your work as ‘curious,’ delving into the complex parallels between the human body, the natural world and the industrial. Can you explain this a bit more?

RL: I see my work as constantly evolving and ‘curious’ in the sense that these objects are often trying to discover who they really are. I think art has the power to transform the way that you look at the world and to create new meanings out of known quantities. By nature of the materials that I am drawn to, namely, heavy and industrial objects, I enjoy the parallels created when I use a a fairly industrial material language with softer, less permanent forms such as fruit or the human body.

AA: Would you say that living/working in Australia has influenced your oeuvre in a major way? 

RL: I would say that my training at the ANU School of Art had a huge influence in my development as an artist. I am heavily influenced by international artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Bruce Nauman, artists from Arte de Povera and Kiki Smith. I would also say that Australian artists such as Rosalie Gascoigne have had a big influence in seeing myself as an Australian artist. I think when you collect objects from your environment, you have a relationship to that landscape and the people and stories that come with them are inherent. 

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‘Finite,’ Rosalind Lemoh; Photo Credit: Damien Geary 

AA: As a full-time artist, what does a typical day look like for you? Can you briefly walk us through your process?

RL: I actually juggle a part-time job and a toddler so I don’t really have a typical day! I do carve out regular studio days during the week though and for those days I often have a list ready to go and I try to do my physical jobs first, such as building and pouring moulds, filing, polishing, sanding or grinding.  I often arrange and play with objects and have them set out for the day so that I can cast my eye over them as I do my work. After lunch, I usually try to do some administration things,like review applications for grants, exhibition proposals, tax or competition entries. After the admin session, I go back to the physical jobs such as de-moulding, checking to see that plaster or glues have set. In the afternoon, I look at the works that I may have touched during the day. During the whole day, I have my diary out and draw ideas or jot things down as they come to mind. Then I clean up and make my list for the following day. Aside from that, I always have sculptures in progress on my book shelves, outside or near to the kitchen table. I like to look at things everyday so that I’m still processing them, but in a subconscious way. 

AA: Any advice you can give to young, emerging artists trying to find their place in the art world?

RL: Walk your own path, have commitment to your ideas and rigor in the way that you execute them. Be honest with yourself. Treat success and failure in the same way, as external validation will come and go. The longer you practice, the more rewarding it is and the more insights you gain into who you are and your place in the world. On a practical note, good photographs of your work are everything and when it comes to applications, try, try and try again. 

AA: What’s next for you? Any 2016 projects we should know about? 

RL: Yes, 2016 is shaping up to be a pretty huge year for me. After exhibiting at Art Rooms London, I will be back to work in preparing for my solo show at ANCA gallery in Canberra opening 6 April, 2016 as well as You Are Here experimental arts festival. In May, I will be heading off to Japan to exhibit at the Tokyo International Art Fair. After that, I will be making some public art for Contour 556 in Canberra. It’s a pretty mixed bag with both local and international opportunities to show my work. 

– India Irving

For more on Rosalind, check out her website.

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