FranMillier-LeonieRhodes-Surfer-SuperSouvenir

Fran Miller Ocean [2018]

Bronze 

 

Cast Sculpture

 

 

 of Surfer Laying on the Ocean

Fran Miller Ocean [2018]

I think we make our own souvenirs. The idea of a souvenir is no longer limited to items specifically labeled as such but rather, are objects and items that we choose specifically in reference to an experience or a place. They can be anything; The importance of them is personal, they are a symbol to their owner.

What is also special about a souvenir is that it is chosen, its in the choosing that the meaning is formed. Without the owner or receiver, the meaning is lost. Souvenirs are like art, too in that they communicate. Souvenirs can remind us of feelings, and they can also communicate our feelings to others.

Souvenirs are also interesting as a way of talking about art. Because art objects have this imbued feeling and meaning, as soon as we say they are art, they have this new depth, they are no longer just a thing, they become more than a thing.

I think its useful for us to think about what this meaning is and where it comes from and where it can lead us next as makers and perceivers of artwork.

Enormous Thanks to Fran Miller (@Franmiller.com.au)  +  Casting at Philip Perridies Foundry, Brisbane (QLD) .
FranMiller-Ocean-LeonieRhodes

Meet Leonie Rhodes

I am a full-time multidisciplinary artist, specializing in classically inspired, contemporary figurative sculpture. I make bronze works, ecologically sound resin sculptures, paintings, installations, performance and street art pieces. I have always made artwork and specifically sculpture since I was very young indeed, producing work is central to my living experience. Collaborating with other artists and young people, one to one and in large workshops is an important aspect of my practice.

I paint, draw and sculpt daily, I get a lot of pleasure from the physical making process, I love materials and playing with tools and found objects. My work always has a conceptual intention which drives my productivity. I am interested in talking about the body, identity, environment, equality, philosophy, social justice, sexuality, and freedom.

DOB:  

England / 13/9/1982

Where do you reside on the Gold Coast?   

Currumbin

Leonie_rhodes_lowres18.jpg

What brought you to the Gold Coast?

I came to the Gold Coast in 2008, initially, I was just traveling. I fell in love with the place and happily became a resident and later a citizen.

What do you love most about the Gold Coast and making art here?

I grew up in South East London, which is obviously a starkly different environment. The Gold Coast is an incredible place to connect with nature and therefore, yourself. The gentle climate and environment support my well being which in turn supports my practice. I love being outdoors and making work out in the air. My favorite thing about Queensland is the ‘roadside collection’ or ‘chuck out days’. I collect so much material during those times. Using ecologically sound materials and recycled objects is really important to me and collecting things is a lot of fun. I enjoy pulling materials together and allowing their oddities to guide my experimental processes.

I like the way artwork is made and shared on the Gold Coast, its a refreshingly grassroots approach. I enjoy the local public’s receptivity to skill and creativity. And I love the festival scene which is invaluable to the arts culture here.

How do you feel we can make the Gold Coast a better city?

The Gold Coast city could provide cheap live/work spaces for artists. These kind of programs dramatically influence and enhance local culture. There are a lot very talented artists on the coast but it's difficult to survive as a serious maker. Providing low-cost spaces would give artists time to develop and refine their work and the collective quality of the communities work would improve. Bringing artists studios together is an effective way to grow a scene. This would also create vital spaces for tourists to visit and engage with artists personally. Art buyers need to feel and own a connection to the work they buy, the people who make it, and the story behind it. There is little or no live/work space for artists on the coast. Not everyone wants to live with their studio. personally, for me it's vital. Some of the most fascinating and creative places I've experienced in Europe and America have been low cost, shared live/work spaces which often function as event spaces as a result of the work happening in them.

The Gold Coast has the capacity to be a thriving cultural center but business and property owners need leeway and support to create spaces in which community and creativity can happen rather than being limited by old fashioned regulations. There also could be much more space to support and nurture young street artists on the Gold Coast. There is so much public space that could be used for Wall art, the true purpose of this kind of space is to improve well-being and create a sense of meaning and purpose in young peoples lives, this seems to get missed and the focus goes on misperceptions about vandalism. More Wall art would also help develop local artists and attract tourists.

The Gold Coast could also develop a more critical culture. Traditionally artists created exhibitions for the sole purpose of having other artists come and view and then criticize their work. This allows for a development and broadening of practice. In Europe criticism in central to the culture, peers criticize each other as a form of support, to help each other grow and develop. It's understood that the quality of a scene in dictated by the diversity in that scene and so artists criticize, collaborate and support each other more. The Coast can be culturally competitive so that if criticism happens it tends to be whispered and this is counter productive to an exciting scene. If artists were taught how to feel comfortable criticizing supportively and share ideas more the scene could further flourish.

Leonie-Rhodes-Art2

What does a souvenir mean to you?

Recently I had an exhibition at the City Gallery at the Gold Arts Centre in Bundall. A couple from New Zealand bought one of my eco resin sculptures ‘The Writer’ a figurative sculpture of a graffiti artist. They said they bought it as a souvenir. They had been searching for a souvenir to remind them of their trip. This was a great pleasure for me and made me reflect on what a souvenir is; I think we make our own souvenirs, the idea of a souvenir is no longer limited to items specifically labeled as such but rather, are objects and items that we choose specifically in reference to an experience or a place. They can be anything; The importance of them is personal, they are a symbol to their owner. In that exhibition, I explored the use of symbolism in advertising. We are constantly bombarded with symbols without giving our consent for them. What is special about a souvenir is that it is chosen, its in the choosing that the meaning is formed. Without the owner or receiver, the meaning is lost. Souvenirs are like art too in that they communicate. Souvenirs can remind us of feelings, and they can also communicate our feelings to others. I think they are interesting as a way of talking about art objects too. Because art objects have this imbued feeling and meaning too, as soon as we say they are art, they have this new depth, they are no longer just a thing, they become more than a thing. And I think its useful for us to think about what this meaning is and where it comes from and where it can lead us next as makers and perceivers of artwork.

Leonie_R_ArtStudio-15.jpg
Leonie-Rhodes-Art1
Leonie_R_ArtStudio-10.jpg

Do you have a memorable souvenir from the Gold Coast or another place you have been? And where might you find them?

My most memorable souvenirs are my Tattoo’s. Like all souvenirs my tattoos are symbols. Symbols are an important part of my life and study. My most memorable piece was from a tattoo museum in San Francisco, I was 19 at the time and had it

booked in months in advance. The day before I had spent hours in the modern art gallery and myself and two friends fell asleep outside afterwards. We weren’t getting much sleep in our bizarre hostel in little Italy, we were sharing a dorm with an old lady who literally growled at you like a dog.

It was a cold day, I remember as I had a puffer jacket on and long sleeves, but the sun was bright. My friends pulled their jumpers over their faces as we slept. I did not. I woke up and I couldn't move my face!. The next morning I couldn’t open my eyes, my eyelids were burnt together!. Gradually they opened. I had very severe burns. Much to my friends love and resistance I refused to cancel my tattoo appointment. I was an added attraction in the Tattoo Museum that day. A number of people paid to get in on hearing about the crazy English punk chick getting tattooed with a bright red and blistered face!!. It is an incredibly good quality tattoo and although I think myself mad at the time, I don’t regret it. I also lived and studied in New York and got a very special tattoo there, and have others from different places and special artists. What I love about ink is that because of the intensity of the experience you tend to be able to remember who you were and what you are feeling in that period of time in a much more lucid and tangible way than your normal often cloudy and shifting memories. I suppose this tool-like function encapsulates what a souvenir is about; a thing which connects you to a memory, a time and a place, which connects in turn to feelings.

What do you think makes a souvenir unique to you?

Personally for me what makes a souvenir unique is its story. And 'story' is so integral to Australian culture. The story is born in the intention and meaning behind the collection of the object. And the story is told as part of the communication and

relationship in the gift giving. Other than my tattoos the only souvenirs I buy are for other people. I personally try to communicate love through gifts that I buy or make for people in my life. The story comes from the knowledge I have garnered about them through knowing them well. I see this knowledge of another as richly intimate and precious. The knowing of another person is one of the most important experiences we have as human beings. When I visit a place, the story of my souvenirs is curated from a combination of two elements; my knowledge of the personality of the person I am buying the souvenir for, and the unique nature of the place from which I am buying it. I express my love through the weaving of these elements. I want to express to the person that I love them, by my knowledge of who they are and what they individually would enjoy about the place I have been. Through this weave, I can also communicate that I missed them when I was there and that my knowledge of them and who they are, enhanced my experience of that place, even in their absence.

Lots of souvenirs are incredibly intricate, particularly in the East. I am really interested in how these objects are made. Detail is an important part of my work and I was fasinated by the highly detailed objects and souvenirs I saw on my travels in India, Bali, Thailand, and Hawaii. In Bali, even the toothpicks are carved with amazing detail!, each one different from the next. I think souvenirs as a subject are an interesting way of talking about skill and labor, value and exchange, ecological industry and slavery.

How do you find your involvement with Super Souvenir exciting?

I am really excited to be part of Super Souvenir. I cannot wait to get on with the work and be part of its presentation to the public. I have got a lot of respect for Byron Coathup. I love his unique aesthetic and the inclusive and environmental way he approaches his projects. I think the dynamic of this project represents something exciting and encouraging which is happening in our wider community and in the rest of the world; An important and essential shift away from cheap, harmful, mass production and throw away objects, back, towards a more meaningful, skills-based, artist centred and environmentally aware system of exchange and economy. People are fed up with harmful tacky plastic souvenirs and are looking for more depth and life in the objects they buy. The Gold Coast is a wonderful place in which to talk about the environment because everyone locally understands its importance and feels a connection to it. They may not, however, understand how the decisions they make each day have an impact on that environment. Projects like this can support people to understand these connections.

Unfortunately, the Gold Coast has also been a place heavily effected by mass production. We have to do something about our environment now and this kind of project shows us how to make a change. Conscious consumerism alone is not enough, but it is a way of communicating the greater problem to people. We need more people to understand what the problems are, and how things could be different and then to encourage people to petition and lobby for fundamental and systemic, economic, political and environmental change.

I think people are also seeking more connection to the things they buy. This country has a rich history of story telling and this project continues that tradition. People are seeking deeper meaning in their lives through art, which once perhaps, came from ritual and religion. I also think this is reactionary to the imposed system of a globalized corporate economy which we know and feel is fundamentally floored and devastatingly destructive.

Leonie-Rhodes-Art3
Leonie-Rhodes-Art4
 

:: FOLLOW LEONIES JOURNEY ::

@leonierhodes

www.leonierhodes.com