Walking through FAC’s grounds you might find Artist in Residence Sanne Koelemij creating gigantic colour fields across her handmade canvases. Hailing from Canberra, Sanne uses everything from cardboard to coffee cup lids and perspex, found during dumpster diving, to construct her large-scale abstract landscapes. Each final work and collaged ‘drawing’ is a kaleidoscopic example of Sanne’s ability to place colour into a joyful, cohesive whole. With an incredible eye for colour balance, Sanne can not only see colour but hear it through the neurological phenomenon synaesthesia.
Tell us a bit about your practice and how you first got into art.
I first got into art through my oma (Dutch for grandmother). I can remember visiting her home and having copious choices of watercolours, pencils and paper to work with. At this stage, representational paintings were everything I wanted to paint but after attending art school and developing my practice, my love for abstraction took over. My practice explores abstraction through painting, sculpture and drawing. My starting point is always ‘the grid’ whether it’s within the canvases I make or one that I’ve drawn, before I map saturated colour all over the surface. I like exploring illusions and patterns which warp depth of space and challenge the understanding of the artworks.
What have you been working on while in residence?
I’ve been experimenting with new ideas since I moved in. There’re all in the developing stages so most of the artworks I’ve made are studies, models or drawings which will lead to larger paintings and installations. The works shown during FAC’s Open Studios on Sunday 25 June are the skeletons for the way I approach abstraction.
Contemporary art can be a complex subject. What’s something about your art practice that’s difficult to explain?
I get asked “why do I paint on cardboard/found/recycled materials?” all the time! The main reason is because I find irregular shapes really interesting to interpret and I don’t like working on rectangular canvases. It creates a system or rule, because a single piece of matter has its own shape and integrity which I try to maintain in my work. The other reason is because I want to engage with the objects and materials around me. Bringing ‘the everyday’ back into the gallery space creates a sense of familiarity with the things that surround us but often go unnoticed.
Where is your favourite place to create art and why?
Outside in the sun! I like using natural lighting when making my work. I particularly enjoy being at home so that I can remain in my pyjamas. Not that stepping outside the house has ever stopped me from walking out in my pyjamas!
FAC has a reputation for being the most haunted place in the southern hemisphere. What’s the scariest thing that’s happened to you at FAC?
The first time I heard the crows land on the tin roof of Studio 9. It was like a pack of party poppers going off. I jumped for my life and in the process tipped binder medium all over the floor.
Other than FAC of course, what’s your favourite gallery?
Staying in Fremantle, the Moores Building Contemporary Art Gallery was a beautiful space to visit. I loved that the gallery has maintained the integrity of its walls and the atmosphere was extremely welcoming. In terms of ‘must see’ exhibitions, I really enjoyed The Rise of Sneaker Culture at the Art Gallery of Western Australia that’s on until 4 September. I loved seeing some familiar kicks and the artists’ collaboration sneakers!
Meet Sanne in person at our Artist in Residence Open Studio this Sunday 25 June, 2–4pm. You’ll find her in Studio 9, in a shed bordering the beautiful grassed area that sits raised above our Front Garden.