Kannitha Ly, artist

The ability to use the visual language to communicate is appealing as it does not conform ...

One of the coast’s most spectacular cultural events, SWELL Sculpture Festival, is kicking off its 16th year. From September 14–23, locals and tourists will flock to the Currumbin beachfront as it transforms into an open-air seaside art gallery showcasing a series of genre-bending works from leading and emerging artists across the country. We took five to chat to first-time SWELL exhibitor Kannitha Ly – a qualified pharmacist whose creativity and passion sees her moonlighting as an artist and designer.

Your first-ever submission into SWELL Sculpture Festival 2018 is ‘Sandy Sundays’? Tell us a bit about the piece – what can we expect?
The work ‘Sandy Sundays’ is a fabric installation created predominately from recycled clothing. The form of the sculpture is inspired by the plans and confines of the bathing pavilions and bathing boxes. The artwork is somewhat immersive and allows the viewer to walk through and be in a space surrounded by a ‘patchwork’ of clothing as well as the natural environment.

What’s the earliest memory you have of creating art?
As a child I would always be drawing or making things from scraps that I would find such as unwanted packaging, off cuts of fabric or other items that I would collect from various places.

Where did the inspiration for ‘Sandy Sundays’ come from?
The concept of Sandy Sundays was initially inspired by the bathing pavilions and bathing boxes of the Gold Coast and the role that these structures played in Australian beach culture and the realisation of the Gold Coast as a leisure destination. During society’s conservative past, the bathing pavilions in particular provided a means that allowed the public to enjoy the beach.

Can you give us an insight into how a piece like this comes together, from conception to completion?
Generally, once I have a concept which will form the basis of the work, I will tend to research the topic to gain a greater understanding of the context and issues involved. I then sketch ideas for how the work should look or be created and then begin making, however these steps are always evolving and the outcome of the work is never what I first imagine it to be.

Were you always destined to be an artist? What drew you to this career?
I have always had a creative side and feel that the pull towards working artistically was too great to be ignored. I feel the ability to use the visual language to communicate is appealing as it does not conform to any particular set of rules unlike the written word or mathematics. Art lends itself to working in a versatile manner and produces an outcome which can be read in multiple ways. There is always an element of change or unpredictability in the process of creating and making.

Who or what influences your work the most?
My work is largely influenced by my surroundings – things that I see that I find either intriguing or bothersome.

What’s your idea of the perfect weekend?
My perfect weekend is to be anywhere in the outdoors, at the beach or bush and in the sun.

Finally, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Well, I often get quotes from my dad, but the one that resonates the most is “progress is never linear.” There are times when we encounter setbacks or detours along the path of our goals.

Kannitha is just one of a number of artists exhibition their work at SWELL Sculpture Festival 2018 – you can check it out on the Currumbin beachfront from September 14–23.


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