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Q&A/Visual Art

Take a ride outside your comfort zone

13 May 2021

Artist Sioux Tempestt is taking art of the traditional white walled gallery and into the pub in her new exhibition ‘INNOMINATE’.


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Sioux Tempestt is a multidisciplinary artist from Perth whose work integrates abstract expressionism into public spaces, architecture and digital applications. Fusing colour and form, she often uses photography to research and document environments and ideas, then deconstructs or enlarges those images to investigate objects in greater detail.

Ahead of the opening of her latest exhibition, ‘INNOMINATE’, Sioux Tempestt gave Nina Levy an insight into what drives her work and what visitors can expect from her new show.

Nina Levy: Tell me about your pathway to becoming an artist… when did you first begin to see yourself as an artist?

A portrait of the artist. She is in profile, with one hand covering her face. Although the image is a photograph it was colour and markings superimposed on top.
Sioux Tempestt. Photo supplied by artist

Sioux Tempestt: I started drawing at a young age and enjoyed it as an expressive outlet. Art was the only subject in high school that held any interest for me. I studied graphic design and have been self-employed for many years.

While my main source of income was designing for clients, I always created my own artwork for self-fulfilment. That has ranged from my own t-shirts, to greeting cards and limited-edition prints. I started painting large works in 2012 and held my first solo show “Divergent” in 2014.

NL: Your background is in design and marketing – how did that training shape the kind of artist that you have become?

ST: All the design work I’ve produced has involved composition, balance, colour palettes, shape, typography and detail. These skills have transferred through to my digital work and painting – even abstraction requires good composition and balance.

My marketing experience has been useful in following the career path I’ve devised: creating my brand and implementing the various marketing channels to help achieve those goals.

NL: You’ve made a lot of public art, in the form of painted murals on buildings and sculptures in public precincts. What is it that appeals to you about creating public art?
ST:
Being able to connect with the public through a creative narrative is exciting. I work mostly in modern contemporary abstraction, an area which I feel is under-represented in Perth public art. I don’t think we give the public enough credit for their ability to investigate and interpret non-representational art.

A work by Sioux Tempestt, composed of 3x3 portrait images of an abandoned sofa. Each image is tinted a different shade of a fluorescent yellow, and exposure is varied.
‘Couch’, by Sioux Tempestt digital print, 59.4cm x 42cm,-2021, edition of 5.

Whether people like the art or not, I feel any conversation about art is positive. The “safe” public art which goes unnoticed as people walk on by, to me, has missed the mark.

The ‘safe’ public art which goes unnoticed as people walk on by, to me, has missed the mark.

I’d love to create some really exciting, edgy large-scale public art which pushes the boundaries and perhaps some buttons! Unfortunately there’s usually a long list of criteria attached to such projects, which restricts artistic freedom.

NL: Tell me about your upcoming exhibition, “INNOMINATE”. Firstly, what does the title mean?
ST:
The title refers to gouging beyond the superficial of unremarkable scenes, manipulating the captured imagery and reworking it to expose the anonymous.

NL: And what can visitors expect to see and experience?
ST:
I wanted to take an experiential approach, to challenge the traditional white-walled gallery experience. I’ve always embraced grungy over pristine, being an explorer of darkly-lit laneways, vacant trashed buildings, urban decay.

Holding the show at a pub, and taking over interior spaces in addition to the exterior, enables the artworks to transcend their frames out onto the architectural space. The walls become part of the art. “INNOMINATE” takes art to the suburbs, an accessible and inclusive experience in a non-clinical surrounding. Visitors should expect the unexpected!

‘INNOMINATE’ takes art to the suburbs, an accessible and inclusive experience in a non-clinical surrounding. Visitors should expect the unexpected!

A canvas is covered in paint in shades of grey and teal blue, the brush strokes visible and messy. Peeking out from gaps in the paint we can make out sections of three cars.
‘Suburban Exposure’, by Sioux Tempestt, deconstructed photographic print, acrylic, aerosol, pencil and tape on canvas, 91.4cm x 91.4cm, 2019

NL: The exhibition brings together multiple mediums, including photography, videography, mural-style work and more. What draws you to working across mediums?
ST:
I have a curious nature and love experimenting with different mediums and new technology. While I enjoy the immediacy and tactility of spraying aerosol and mark making with brushes and rollers, the digital realm of photography, video and music is super exciting. I view these various disciplines as interrelated – a poem might make it onto the page of my book, or onto a painting. A photograph could be interpreted digitally or through mixed media on a piece of found cardboard. Continued learning of new techniques and mediums keeps life from becoming mundane. I don’t sit still for long so I’m always producing… something.

NL: Lastly, tell us about the book you are launching with this exhibition.
ST:
The limited edition INNOMINATE codex chronicles the process, interactions, ruminations, “tress-passings”, exploits and a portion of the subsequent creative output.

“Innominate” opens 6pm Friday 28 May at the Civic Hotel, and runs until 25 June 2021.

Top image supplied.

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Author —
Nina Levy

Nina Levy has worked for over a decade as an arts writer and critic. She co-founded Seesaw and has been co-editing the platform since it went live in August 2017. Nina was co-editor of Dance Australia magazine from 2016 to 2019. Nina loves the swings because they take her closer to the sky.

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