Kevina-Jo Smith at This is Not Art 2017 (TiNA)

Kevina-Jo Smith

As aspiring and emerging artists and art lovers from around the country get set to converge on Newcastle for This is Not Art 2017, we sat down with Blue Mountains artist Kevina-Jo Smith, to find out more about her inspiration and expectations ahead of the October long-weekend event.

In five words, how would you describe yourself?

Passionate, nervous, diligent, hungry, distressed.

Tell us about your art?

My work is largely about building an environment to incite conversation and awareness through immersive installations created using up-cycled mixed media, textiles and film. Making things is my way of processing information to further understand what is going on around me.

Where do you find your artistic inspiration?

Most of my inspiration comes from observation. Observing details in nature, people and our current environment. This can be as simple as the energy of a colour combination or as intense as the energy of a bushfire. Right now I am excited by artists who are being celebrated with decades of work behind them, such as El Anatsui and Jenny Watson.

What can we expect from you at This is Not Art this year?

I am interested in how people are dealing with the current political and environmental climate, so I have created costume and banners inspired by recent protests, it will be set up as a photo booth for people to document themselves holding messages that they want to share with their world on social media, therefore extending the conversation. #planetprotest #protestbooth

My intention is to build on the audience participation element of my collaboration with Trischelle Roberts for Critical Animals in 2016. Food Is Free at The Lock-Up involved Trish and I inviting people to contribute fresh produce to the installation and as audience members take away produce that they could eat.

What has surprised you about working in the art world?

Nothing and everything.

What are your impressions of Newcastle?

Immediately I sense that there is an energised, active community, particularly behind TINA. I have felt really humbled and welcome, I am particularly excited by some upcoming fun with the Newcastle Museum.

For an aspiring artist, what words of wisdom do you have to share?

The same thing I have to tell myself all the time… Never Give Up! Being an artist is a long game, it is for life. I try to constantly look to artists ahead of me who I know have worked really hard to be where they are in their careers, such as Mikala Dwyer, I love seeing each body of work be stronger than the last, I find that really energising.

Critical Animals guest programs Newcastle Art Gallery’s Last Fridays program with Kevina-Jo Smith’s immersive installation Planet Protest. Friday 29 September, 5-8pm.

Want to find out more about This is Not Art or head along to one of the 150+ events planned from 28 September to 1 October? Visit for the full program or download the TiNA App, follow This is Not Art on Facebook ( and on Instagram (@thisisnotart).

This is Not Art 2017 is presented by Octapod Association which is supported by Create NSW through the Multi-year Program funding category. Information for Multi-year Program funding will be available in late 2017.

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Published: 26 September 2017