We acknowledge the traditional owners and sovereign custodians of the land on which Collingwood Yards is situated, the Wurundjeri people of the Woiwurrung language group. We extend our respect to their Ancestors and all First Peoples and Elders past, present, and future.

In conversation with mosaic artist Louise Marson
Practice, material and studio

Five minute read
A blonde woman with a small dog on her lap is at work in an artists studio.

Louise Marson has been working out of Collingwood Yards as an emerging artist for the last 18 months, developing an important series of work for her solo exhibition at the Dax Centre from 22 September to 18 December 2021. The series are titled Dialogue of the OK!, Threaded Passages and Forging A Head.

Louise says “The artwork created in my studio at Collingwood Yards is about a journey from un-wellness to the passages leading forward in order to forge ahead in a well way. It is also about how Collingwood Yards has provided me the vehicle or essential tools to rapidly develop my creative practice. I am so grateful to belong to such a cutting edge Yards community and this has been integral to the professional artist I have become over the last two years.”

 

Prior to 1 January 2020, I undertook my arts practice on the home backyard garden table. It was awkward. It did not nurture me to thrive in my creative practice. I would sit outside with multiple layers of clothing and my miner’s lamp would go on around 6pm, as I did not even have adequate lighting. The Yards has enabled me to thrive as a person, but more importantly as an artist. My art for me is like ‘breathing’ and it’s central to my health and wellbeing. Now as a person who can now call themselves a professional artist, I am so grateful to have a professional studio in order to create. I am always so grateful to the Yards management and community behind me.

The ‘Dialogue of the OK’ series (2019 – 2020) has been a tool in my healing but also challenges mental health stereotypes and unpack the lived experience of mental illness.
During the 2020 and 2021 Covid-19 lockdown periods, I developed work for my solo exhibition (23rd of September to 18th of December 2021) at The Dax Centre titled ‘Breath’. These non-figurative works let go of the confines of the traditional square or rectangle frame. The marble undulates or you could say it ‘breathes’ again.

 

Could you introduce your space or making environment?

I am very proud of the Yards and my studio. Studio 11 is where you will find me and my two assistance dogs, for the most part of the days, and the week.  My stone, and most importantly my assistance dogs, Penny and Bella. We come as three, and thus we are always together. My dogs love my studio. Just like me and my dogs days are often consumed by the Yards special supportive environment. I never take that for granted. I’ve created a tranquil, thriving environment for the three of us.  

I try to create meaningful art for me, even though my first series ‘Dialogue of the OK!” is dark and painful. I strive for the work to be beautiful to view, touch and smell.  

I am not professionally trained as a visual artist.  Don’t necessarily try to look at my work to see a profound artist message or what’s this abstract interpretation about the work.  It’s usually simple— appreciating the beauty of the material and maybe even delving a bit further to read the information underpinning the work and what simple message the viewer is invited to explore.

 

Has moving into Collingwood Yards provided you new perspectives in your creative practices?

The Yards has facilitated a new perspective to the development of my creative practices and this has been facilitated by my art mentor, Helen Bodycomb. My mentor, has supported me to ‘breathe again’ and move forward to my current non-figurative works which let go the confines of the traditional square or rectangular frame. Their edges are torn; they are free and unbounded. As the marble undulates, it breathes again and in a different form. The stone seems to expand and contract as it relaxes with each breath.  The stone is permanent! My art work have been constructed to last hundreds of years from now. My creative practices work with tone, responding to materials, exploring different cutting and tessera setting nuances, varying the interstices in terms of shape and colour also, and giving each tessera an individual voice or a note in a song.


How did you start your creative work?

I was inspired with mosaics, but in 1992 when I went to Barcelona and saw the works of Antoni Gaudi. Blown away by Park Guell, Casa Batlló, La Pedra, Sagrada Familia, etc.

But I did not think five years ago when I commenced my art that I had much of an artist bone in my body. My life before was consumed by work. And I had little appreciation of art. I was brought up in rural Victoria on a farm, where there was almost no appreciation of art. It was not valid and thus not valued. My disability forced me to look at things differently. Art soothed my pain.  It has given me a purpose— a voice. It has been integral to my mental health journey and ongoing recovery even though reality is I have about two mental health admissions to the acute system each year.

 

What is the importance/ meaning of your creative practice to you?

As an emerging artist living with disability from an acquired brain injury and mental illness, my art practice is both my voice and my mindfulness. 

The ‘Dialogue of the OK’ series (2019 – 2020) has been a tool in my healing but also challenges mental health stereotypes and unpack the lived experience of mental illness.  During the 2020 and 2021 Covid-19 lockdown periods, I developed work for my solo exhibition (23rd of September to 18th of December 2021) at the Dax Centre titled ‘Breath’.  These non-figurative are part of my recovery.  The marble undulates or you could say it I can now breathe again, in a well way. 

In some ways, I have thrived during COVID-19 shut down, as I am well-tuned to isolation and being restricted and above all alone.  This is why the only work in the ‘breath’ exhibition titled “Alone” is not for sale.  I really want to remember this time.

 

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or launches that you are excited about?

 I work full-time as a visual artist I’ve been working out of Collingwood Yards as an artist for the last 18 months, and this has enabled me to develop an important three series of work for my first solo exhibition at the Dax Centre from 23 September to 18 December 2021. The exhibition is about a journey from un-wellness to the passages leading forward in order to forge ahead in a well way. My art for me is like breathing and it is central to my health and wellbeing.  My exhibition is about a celebration of my recovery.  I can breathe again.  And thus, the exhibition is titled, ‘Breathe’. Breath is both essential to life and important to listen to for a sense of mindfulness.  This was the consistent message from this series of work for the Dax Centre.

But again, this exhibition would not be possible without funding and the Yards and my art mentor and support from Arts Access Victoria NDIS and my multidisciplinary team (there’s quite a few of them) that puts me together so I can now contribute in a meaningful way.  I’m especially grateful to the City of Melbourne and Creative Victoria for funding support that enabled this work and exhibition. This project has been supported by the City of Melbourne Arts Grant and Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.

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