Updated: Jul 19, 2019
A chat with our artist of the week, the wonderfully talented Vanessa Liebenberg.
How long have you been an artist?
I feel like I have always been an artist. Even when I was focused on textiles, which is an art form as well. The last 10 years I have been more focused on creating works. My art practise consists of creating artworks, but I also facilitate workshops and teach classes. I have also been involved in public art murals and I am a freelance textile designer.
How did you get involved?
My background is in woven textile design. I studied Textile design and Technology in South Africa, where I worked as a textile designer, creating interior fabrics. I always use to paint when I had free time. When I immigrated to Perth, I started creating more work. I attended various art workshops to inspire me. I started to sell more work and commission work stated to increase.
Have you entered any competitions or exhibitions? If so which ones
I regularly enter competitions. It is a great way of meeting other artists, and to have your work displayed and the prize money is always a bonus! I was the Rockingham Local Artist Art Award winner (2017), the Gosnells Art Award for mixed media winner (2018), 3rd place winner of Claremont Art Award 2015, Manjar People’s choice Awards winner (2010), Bremick Art Award People’s choice winner (2011). I have been involved in various group exhibitions and I have a few coming up. I will be at the Fine Art @ Hale art exhibition in August and the Perth Art Upmarket in October.
What do you love about art? What is your motivation?
I love art and design. I am constantly looking at artist’s work online. Interior and fashion magazines inspire me, ever since I stole my older sister’s vogues when I was only little. I like a variety of work, from realistic to abstract. Realism attracts me as I appreciate the technical ability, but I love a quirky twist. Colour is important to me, and unusual combinations in a work draws me in. I am motivated by the joy of creating something I am really proud of. Even in the planning and reflection stage of a work, I get a rush of excitement and it consumes me for weeks before I even start the work. I love the feeling I get while drawing.
When I was younger, I thought that the drive to create was a curse. Couldn’t I have rather had the drive to have a professional job? In my mind that seemed to be a more lucrative path. But through the years I realized it is not a curse, but rather a beautiful passion that gives me joy. And the best thing is that it also gives other people joy. I love the feeling when someone loves and enjoys my work, which is why I enjoy commission work. I can work with someone to create something for them with elements that are sentimental or special to them. I love facilitating workshops and I have done many with the elderly. We paint together and talk about their life journeys.
How would you describe your style?
I normally dislike categorizing my work, as I find it difficult. But I would say it is a layering of ideas. I use a variety of medium together. Pyrography, silk screening, ink drawing, acrylic and oils. I have even stitched on my work. I love working on wood. It seems more alive and earthy.
Who/what are your influences?
The Australian bush inspires me! When I moved here from Cape Town, I was quite homesick, but walks through the bush made me feel more grounded. It was a way for me to connect with my new home. I loved the unusual plants, like the Kangaroo paw and the many varieties of Banksias. I started drawing and painting what I saw around me. I am also very influenced by other artists, old photographs, magazines, movies, everything can be an inspiration! Textiles are still a big love for me and often a beautiful textile design would inspire a colour palette or a direction of a work. The layers in my work is inspired by my woven textile design background.
What are some of your favourite personal works?
My favourite 2 works at the moment are from a series called Roots. It was inspired by some old black and white photographs of my mom and my dad’s family. I was in a space where I am reflecting on where I came from and where I am today. The 2 countries that are important to me merges in my world. It is often a little battle inside me, as I miss my family and my roots, but I also love the new home I am creating with my son.