Q&A with Emerging Fellow Consuelo Cavaniglia

Consuelo Cavaniglia, Recipient, 2016 NSW Visual Arts Fellowship (Emerging), with Untitled and Untitled (simultaneous spaces), 2016, installation view, Artspace, Sydney. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Zan Wimberley.

Interdisciplinary artist Consuelo Cavaniglia was recently awarded the NSW Government’s 2016 Visual Arts (Emerging) Fellowship for her work Untitled and Untitled (simultaneous spaces) currently exhibited at Artspace, Woolloomooloo.

Currently based in Sydney, Consuelo is an artist whose work focuses on how we see and understand space. Taking its cues from film, photography and architecture the work employs technically simple visual effects to distort perception and unsettle the relationship between viewer and space.

We caught up with Consuelo about her recent award and what inspires her to create art.

How would you describe your practice?

I would say my practice is interdisciplinary – I work across drawing, sculpture and photography and use quite a wide range of materials and technical approaches. My work deals with space and is concerned with how we see and relate to space. The practice is quite fluid and often the work is responsive to site.

What is the process behind developing your sculptures/works?

Drawing is a really important part of my working process. I generally start by noting down an idea in the visual diary and then go through a drawing process that involves anything from simple pen on paper sketches to airbrushing on paper, making paper models and using a whole range of other media to test out forms, shapes, scale, colour, materials, etc.

There is often a fair amount of planning and testing for most works. In the sculptural work especially I like to test at a 1:1 scale, in order to understand the space and volume of the work and how a person interacts with it. I also generally test the work out on others and get an opinion of how it’s functioning. I regularly look at a lot of other artists’ work to inform what I do and also like to look more broadly for other influences.

Why did you decide to apply for the fellowship and how will it help in the development of your career?

I completed a Master of Fine Arts at the start of this year and was looking for the opportunity to pursue some research overseas. Then I met an experimental musician who saw an exhibition I had at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA) last year as he was traveling from Berlin on the way to Sydney and we found some very exciting connections in the way we relate to colour and space, and talked about trying to find the means to work together.

When the Fellowship came up it seemed the perfect opportunity to make some of this happen. I proposed a program that will see me research specific collections, works and artist foundations; travel to Berlin to connect my work with experimental music for the first time; and on my return to Sydney pursue material testing and production with local manufacturers. I’m very excited for this program’s potential of effecting all aspects of my practice, from concepts, materials and production, to finding new directions and forging new collaborations.

What other opportunities have helped shape your career?

The solo exhibition I had at PICA was an important opportunity that allowed me to work at a very ambitious scale, it provided the first publication dedicated to my work and connected me back with the Perth community that I was closely involved with for many years.

Earlier this year I received a NSW Artist grant from NAVA that allowed me to embark on the production of the first works in metal for an exhibition at Galerie Pompom, and this opened up a whole new mode of engagement that I can see endless scope for.

Also I had the incredible good fortune of being able to work closely with Mikala Dwyer, who was my MFA supervisor at Sydney College of the Arts. Working with her for two years had a great impact on how my practice developed and progressed. The artists I studied and connected with over that time also continue to be a great influence and an important source of input into my practice.

What tips do you have for other emerging artists?

I think it’s very important to be informed and connected – being an active part of the community and supporting the people you work with is essential and understanding the climate and landscape we operate in is important.

Apart from being busy with the Visual Arts Fellowship, what does 2017 have in stall for you?

There are few projects that are in discussion, but confirmed are a site specific/site responsive project in the city of Ararat curated by Melissa Keys, commissioned by NETS Victoria; two exhibitions in Perth – a solo at Turner Galleries and an exhibition with Ellen Dahl and Yvette Hamilton at Perth Centre for Photography; and locally I’m curating an exhibition at Verge Gallery with work by Penny Coss, Claire Peake and Sean O’Connell.

The 2016 NSW Visual Arts Fellowship (Emerging) Exhibition is showing at Artspace from 9 November – 10 December 2016.

The NSW Visual Arts (Emerging) Fellowship is provided by the NSW Government in partnership with Artspace in Woolloomooloo. 

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