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Q&A with Lotte Alexis Smith


Q: Your art practice spans from large public murals to the more intimate works you have created for Collab. What drives you to work in such varied mediums and modes?

I think there's three main reasons for this that I can fairly confidently articulate. The first being the I like learning new things and I want to keep growing and adapting my art as I grow and adapt. The second being that I like the idea of art being accessible to lots of different people - I love that about street art, mural art and graffiti, you stumble across it in your travels and it will affect you in some way. Its like a daily dose of art you didn't know you needed. The third being that art helps me make sense of the world. My smaller more intimate pieces are reflections on feelings or experiences that I'm still trying to make sense of. For me its like how therapy can give a framework in which to understand yourself, my drawings are like a visual framework for that, and the narratives that play out in them are me making sense of things I can't quite articulate yet.

Q: For people new to your work where can they find your street art?

I have some scattered throughout the inner west in Sydney and also Melbourne. Due to the nature of street art I'm not always sure of what's still up for viewing but to my knowledge around Sydney at least there's a few in Victoria Lane in Marrickville, at Circular Quay as part of the Felicity 2.0 Project on Gender Equality, and around Newtown there's a collaboration piece with a few of the members of Stayfly Sydney. I'm pretty sure there's some in Drammen still kicking around as part of Ugang Prosjektet (Ugang Project) in Norway, and possibly one in Bristol from way back for UPfest. 

The pieces are lofty like walking through a dreamscape where everything is simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar.

Q: Tell us about your new series of work for Collab…

My focus for the new works was to continue the exercise of world building. Recurring themes of love, companionship, isolation and longing have made a return in this series but from a slightly different perspective to previous projects. Heightened feelings of paranoia, estrangement and miscommunication had driven the narrative in my last show. However for Collab I wanted to soften the tone. The pieces are lofty like walking through a dreamscape where everything is simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar. 

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Q: Your work explores love and longing with a surrealist sensibility. Contemporary society can shun these themes as 'old hat' but we think they are just as important as ever. What do you say? 

For most of my art school years I'd tried to project what I thought would make my work sound smarter but since then I've learnt that I have a pretty distinctive style and my stronger work is made when I embrace it. Part of me always feels a strange sense of guilt as though I'm a bad feminist that is reinforcing a played out narrative for my characters (that are usually women) that they are searching for love and romance. That isn't the case at all - I'd say that the works on a surface level explore binaries such as love and loss, but then venture deeper into the feelings that orbit those experiences. For me they're important because they're a reminder of core truths of being human, and we seem to need reminders. To ask for help, to feel alone in your experiences, to want to feel understood. Everyone feels love and longing and they're huge feelings but they're also normal feelings. Its about validation I think and for me that is important.

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Q: Who or what is your current artistic inspiration/s?

I have lots! Off the top of my mind people I've been really frothing over is Michelle Pereira (an amazing illustrator, who is a master at using gouache), Eero Lampinen (an all round talent in mural art, illustration, prints and the list goes on), and Dominque Fung (every time I see a painting of theirs pop up on my newsfeed I shoot hearts out my eyes). Finally Cliff Chiang, who did the illustrations for Paper Girls comics which I think might be one of my top reads too. 

Q: What’s next on the horizon for Lotte Alexis Smith?

I've just started an animation course so the plan is to hopefully juggle my assessments with my other work. My Viewing Day with Collab might be my final show before the end of the year because I'm trying not to take on too much! Beyond that I would love to get back to travelling but it will all depend on where I'm at a year from now. Finger crossed for more adventures ahead!