Simone Lettice Exhibition at Smart Art Gallery
Adelaide based visual artist Simone Lettice is gearing up for her latest solo exhibition ‘Grit’ – her bravest and largest collection to date – at Smart Art Gallery.
KIDDO caught up with her to chat about her tenacious dedication to her art, her ongoing battle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the demands of mothering a toddler…
How did you get into painting?
I always loved to draw throughout my childhood and started up a handmade greeting card business featuring my drawings in my mid teens. Studying graphic design in my later teens, I didn’t really start painting till my early twenties. A pivotal moment about this time occurred when a friend of mine, looking at a small journal filled with my drawings said, “Simone you need to start doing things you don’t need to squint at!”. Not long after, my boyfriend now husband, provided me with some big primed boards and I went to work creating my first exhibition. Painting quickly took over as my favourite medium. Funny how what was essentially a passing comment spurred me on to change artistic direction.
How would you describe your artwork?
I can definitely see influences in my work from both the artwork I was surrounded by as a child (family of artists) and the art books I was shown (books on Miro, Matisse and Picasso). It was my grandmother in particular, who really fostered a love of art in me. Encouraging me to paint what I feel, she taught me to use quick expressive markings. To this day my paintings show her influence – my initial sketchings are done quickly and intuitively to create the framework for bold, sculptural abstracts or stylised figurative pieces.
Fave thing to paint?
I love the boundless freedom abstractionism offers me to be unrestrainedly creative. Painting ‘grit’ has been my favourite painting experience ever! Coming from a more mature, authentic place, I’ve created paintings I would like to hang in my own home. People often look at my paintings and comment on the time they must have taken and remark that I must be very patient. I enjoy the slow, repetitive process, it’s peaceful and meditative.
How do you manage and balance mum hat v painter hat?
I have become more efficient since having my daughter and more adept at harnessing my creativity and inspiration, ‘turning the tap on’ when I have a window of time, rather than just waiting for inspiration to visit. Even so, I wouldn’t be able to ‘manage’ without the support of my husband, family, friends and a lovely lady that helps out with cleaning once a fortnight.
How did you pull together an exhibition [and alll those paintings!] with a toddler + Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
This exhibition has been a labour of love and has taken me longer to produce than I like to admit! Some of the smaller paintings were literally done with my daughter asleep in my arms. Generally, I’ve picked up my paintbrush in stolen moments or when, because family and friends have looked after my daughter or done jobs around the house, I’ve been left with extra time (and energy) to put into painting. It’s been a slow process and at times I’ve felt like this exhibition would never happen. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can be extremely debilitating (I’ve been left bedridden for years at a time in the past) and its so easy to physically crash if you push yourself too hard. I’ve had to really pace myself to produce this collection. Beyond that it’s been patience, grit, determination and a deep love for creating that have propelled me along when it all felt beyond me.
Tell us about your exhibition coming up at Smart Art…
I’ve titled the collection ‘grit’ as a nod to the determination required of me to compile it. A collection of 36 abstract paintings ranging from postcard size to 1200 x 1200 canvases, these paintings, all bold sculptural acrylics, were created using layers of carefully and slowly applied paint, or dots using a tiny paintbrush. Gold’s, bronzes, greys and black, with the odd splash of a feature colour were my palette of choice for these pieces. I drew inspiration from constellations, music, collage and bronzed sculptures, but ultimately it was my feeling-based, intuitive process that led me to produce works that I hope my audience will likewise discover their own meanings within.
Grit opens May 31st at Smart Art Gallery, 93 North Tce, College Park and will be showing through till the end of July.