Erica Gray QLD
What was the inspiration behind the piece that is a part of the SWELL Sculpture Festival 2021?
Experiences found at the beach as a young teen discovering all manner of aquatic creatures washed up on shore, in particular the blue bottle jellyfish.
Do you follow a process or plan for each new piece or do you ‘wing it’?
I plan first: sketch, estimate an overall foot print, construct patterns, cut and sew. Once I join the components together, my whole process changes as I evolve and adjust segments to fit the fall of materials. I usually utilise fashion materials, such as Tulle, Lycra and beads in my work. I like to upend the size, scale and materials of objects – in particular aquatic creatures.
Would you describe your artistic journey as a slow burn or a wild ride?
My art practice has evolved from a series of exciting opportunities to exhibit my work nationally and internationally. It has taken a lot of hard work and time to develop my own processes working across a variety of art medium and genre.
Can you tell us a little bit more about how you became the artist that you are today?
I’ve always drawn; painted; had a career sewing fashion; later becoming obsessed with ceramics, 3d printing and sculpture. One of my first sculpture experiences was exhibiting in the 2009 Swell Sculpture Festival. Sometime after I discovered wearable sculpture and with my working background in fashion, it seemed the perfect combination. These days I’m working hard focusing on my sculpture and painted works for solo exhibitions and recent exhibit within Solid Gold, inaugural display at HOTA, Home of the Arts.
Describe your ideal environment where your creative juices flow?
Deadlines are what makes me focused, however a mind set of imagination and inventiveness are what inspires me. Ideas always pop into my head and I’m sure to keep a note book around to mark these ideas down.
Is there an artist or body of work that you would consider your muse?
For this work, nature is my muse as well as the sense of fun and discovery; the childhood memories of trips exploring the beach.
Although I admire many who’s work relate to the aquatic realm, including environmentalist David Attenbourogh, naturalist/marine biologist Ernst Heackel, underwater sculptor/photographer Jason deCaires Taylor among them.
If you had to choose 3 words to describe your artistic style, what would they be?
Eclectic, evocative and joyful are the three words I’d want my art to imbue however, better words for my blue bottles might be floppy, frilly and fun : )
Beyond SWELL 2021, is there a forthcoming project you are most excited about?
I’m looking forward to producing a new body of small sculptural works made with paper, clay and acrylic.
What does exhibiting in SWELL 2021 mean to you?
It’s a chance to exhibit my work locally alongside an exciting array of sculptures within an amazing beach side location!
Is there anything you do to continue developing as an artist? Would you describe yourself as self-taught or formally educated in your practice?
I’m self-taught however I was taught most of my sculpture making skills by talented tailors, seamstresses and pattern makers who taught me sewing and pattern making over the years, as well as an obsessive interest in materials and techniques.
Where did you grow up?
I moved from New Zealand with my parents when I was 10 and have lived happily on the Gold Coast ever since. Full of fond memories of trips to the beach with family and friends.
Have you got a favourite Art Gallery in Australia?
MONA in Hobart, On my visit they had the most beautiful video artworks on display as well as other interesting pieces – also the building has some great spaces.
The National Gallery of Australia, once I had a tour through the soft sculpture exhibits from the collection which was so interesting and inspiring as well as it also has amazing sculptural pieces including an Anthony Gormley sculpture in the garden.
Oh and also HOTA, our very own Home of the Arts on the Gold Coast!
Tea or coffee?
Yes please – no milk, no sugar thanks
Courtney Stephens is an emerging creative event producer based in Tweed Heads. After a successful career as a Practice Manager, her passion for the creative arts industry has led her to study a Bachelor of Business in Convention and Event Management. She hopes to balance her love for the arts, culture and nature with her strengths in communication and management to create community based events.