For the past three months we have had the pleasure of working alongside Rebekah Rasmussen. The studio Rebekah occupied sits directly opposite our office and was a place to make, talk and share her work. It has been beautiful to watch her practice shift and evolve over that time, introducing new colours, materials and concepts. We have enjoyed her enthusiasm for the arts and wonderful conversations she has bought to our table. Rebekah seized the opportunity to develop her practice within a unique creative environment as our Artist in Resident at 30upstairs. We have witnessed special exchanges between our visitors during her time here, welcoming those curious about what she was making into her space making her art truly accessible. That relationship still continues as the gallery and its visitors engage with her current show A material thing.
Why did you apply for the residency and how did it help towards your show?
I was about to finish up at Massey and I wanted to have something in the pipe line. I knew that 30 upstairs supported emerging artists so I thought the residency was a good opportunity. It would encourage me to continue working and made for a comfortable transition into the next phase of my development.
When we first saw your work there was a strong graphite element to what you were making – your palette has since grown. What were the reasons behind this shift?
I have a young child and because of that there is a lot of kids stuff in our house. There are lots of bright and mis-matched colours everywhere. I think that probably had a part to play. I have never really felt that confident using colour but she had been given felts and play doh for Christmas and when we were testing them out together, I had a lot of fun. The thing with felts is you can’t really blend the colours. An art teacher at school once told me never to paint with colours straight from the tube because its looks bright and tacky, but with drawing its exactly like that. I guess i didn’t have to worry about being confident with colour because how the ink came out wasn’t really up to me. I ended up taking all Selva’s stuff to make things and it was kinda like I just vomited all the colour out.
Again that would be Selva. I think we had about six one year birthday parties in like a month. We ate a lot of fairy bread. I also practice lots of yoga. For me, yoga is about learning. Learning to listen, observe, focus and be disciplined, and there are accumulative benefits when you practice continuously. I also had the play doh. So I guess the hundreds and thousands was a bringing together of those three things. I sat down everyday and rolled them with my fingers. Some days it was tedious and other days I was surprised at how quickly the time went. I think that can be said for Play doh, fairy bread and one years olds too. Sometimes its fun, other times its challenging and its all moving really fast. The hundreds and thousands were just another exercise put in place to keep reminding me that and to teach me to be still.
You have employed a large range of materials for this body of work, do you actively seek them out or are they things you come across in your everyday life?
Usually things I come across in my everyday life. Sometimes I go out and buy something specific. I made a puddle once. I was watching condensation and was thinking a whole lot of stuff. When it came to making and installing the work I had to think about what materials I would need to make it work.
What ideas will you continue to explore after this show and what do you have planned next?
I’d like to continue showing. I’ve nearly finished a website that I hope to upload new stuff on. Im also excited about future projects with other artists and friends. In terms of making, I might work on something similar to the hundreds and thousands thing. I have some other ideas too but I have found that if I spend too much time thinking I just end up procrastinating. I really am someone who has to have something right in front of me so I can just do it already.
We wish Rebekah all the best for her future endeavours and will miss her being across the hall.
Our next artist in residence is Caitlin Devoy, who will be moving in to the studio this week. We will post some info and images on Caitlin and her work soon.