It seems like ages ago that I caught up artist Kylie Fleur to take these photos. I sent away some questions for her to answer about her work and her process.
Tell me about your recent works.
My current works can be described as a synthesis of abstraction and pure expression, the medium I am currently exploring is pen and ink on cotton paper, in which I produce very intricate works consisting of thousands of tiny hand-drawn circles.
Tell me a little about your history as an artist – e.g. Was an interest when you were a child? Have you sought any formal training? When did you really take taking things seriously? What do you love about working?
I have always been creative, as a child I spent a lot of my spare time drawing realistically and I excelled in all forms of art and creative expression. I began my formal training at the School of Arts at NMIT Nelson, with the intention to become an art teacher. I took my training seriously, but after four years of full time study (qualifying with a Bachelor of visual arts), I felt I was not ready to teach others, and felt as though it would be hypocritical of me to do so without having practiced as a working artist first, and developed my own teaching philosophy. It has taken me quite some time in letting go of old expectations and conditioning, as well as loosening my attachments towards my own creative identity. When I finally felt equipped with the necessary tools and wisdom to teach others, I could see that what I had to teach and the way in which I needed to teach the subject required freedom from the NZ school system; so I went out on my own and did it my way. I started running art workshops and classes for the youth, and they were very successful. My methods may be a little unusual but they are very effective!
What mediums have you worked with in the past, and what is your favorite (and why):
As a student in the Visual Arts I have been fortunate to explore many various mediums and art forms. I majored in Painting and prior to the works I am creating now I actually specialized in mixed-media painting. Mixed-media through painting lends itself to extensive exploration by pushing the boundaries of my medium. I have also done a lot of work using resin (in both painting and sculpting), I was always perturbed by the toxicity of the medium, yet in contrast I celebrated and relished in the beauty and sense of permanence that could be formed. I have felt very at home with these mediums and have explored them inside and out for over a decade, and so it is time to put these tools down and pick up some new ones. My life has seen a lot of growth and change, and I have welcomed pen and ink into my life which is exactly where I need to be for the moment.
Name some influences on your work.
It is important to me that I create my truth and not that of others, so that my greatest influence remains myself. I tend to keep others artworks at arm’s length because it’s influence can be so tempting. I currently prefer to stay receptive so that creation can flow through me. I have been informed by the writings of philosophers such as Jean Paul Satre’s Existentialism and writers like Eckhart Tolle. I am inspired by artists Billy Apple and Flox but not for their art but for their approach to art brand identity.
Are there any artists you love?
I have a strong believe that we are all born creative beings and having worked with so many creative individuals I am lucky to see the artist shine through many people! There are many artists I admire (don’t expect a famous artist name from me as there is so much talent yet to be discovered and it’s the underdog artist that shouldn’t be overlooked, I honestly have no favourites! Yes the artist’s mind is an intriguing space, but it is just their tool in producing the finished artwork which is the thing on display for us to consider, else they’d be standing in a gallery naked LOL. Therefore I must be more drawn the artwork than the artist themselves.
Tell me about the processes you really enjoy – past, present – how do you like to approach a work?
Where I was using self expression in art I now choose pure expression which is more concerned with mindfulness and the “process of creating” rather than the self-reflective or the self-dialogue. For me now it isn’t about planning ahead to the end product, and it is from this place that I can connect to my true artist within, where I am both artist and observer as this process takes place. To the sound of beautiful music I incorporate breath, positive mantra, and discipline to allow the creativity to occur on it’s own terms. Giving form to my internal stream of consciousness and more. I find the finished pieces to be more engaging and speaks to the heart and minds of the viewer.
Name a person, event, or thing that had a positive influence on you as an artist.
One of my tutors Mike Baker, always pushed me to realize my potential. On one occasion in 2003 I was to produce an Installation Performance, and he saw through my initial idea (which was good but safe) as he could see I was capable of much more. I ended up creating a powerful and challenging public solo-performance in Nelson CBD dressed in an outfit made out of paper Kleensak rubbish bags and duct tape, I looked like one of the 20 mannequins that surrounded me, I was commenting on the new Prostitution Reform Bill that was a hot topic at the time LOL! Mike taught me that in order to grow you must live outside of your comfort zone, and that is where I am quite happy being now.
What are you working on now?
My most recent piece was a layered drawing that is a synthesis of pen and ink, with watercolour, titled “Earth-Stirred” it came as a response to the Kaikoura 7.8 magnitude earthquake that occurred last year. Conceptually I am continuing down the path I am on and there is always a work in progress.
Talk a little about your commission and workshop/tutorial work.
I am a passionate educator in art and creativity. I offer creativity workshops for corporate, adults and youth. I’m also a Professional Development Trainer for educators at Primary Schools and Preschools. In 2005 I embarked on a parallel career in Optics which inspired me to become a Creativity Coach for the Blind (and Legally Blind) and this has come to include people who have physical disability also.
People can commission me to create tasteful designs specifically for labels or logos. I am available for murals and street art also.
Do these aspects of your career have an influence on your own personal work?
Everything I do influences my art practice! It was during one of my workshops and teaching my students mindfulness through art that I began to see the artist as a “vessel” through which something higher and greater can be expressed. It is through practicing what I preach that has led to the art I am producing today.
Any further ambitions for your work in the future?
I am most excited to offer Professional Development in Creativity, and it is my intention to change the way in which creativity is taught to youth. I aspire to have my own gallery/workshop space, which will give me more freedom to express myself and train others. I intend to be a part of some big art shows in the near future, and I am interested in exploring various mediums and surfaces when the time is right. Everything else to come is simply a surprise to you and myself, that’s where the pleasure is for me!
Why is Marlborough a great place to work an artist?
I prefer to be a big fish in a small ocean, than a small fish in a big ocean. There is so much opportunity in the “Boom town”, and so much potential for the arts here, Blenheim needs a big injection of art and creativity, I wan’t to be a part of that movement!!!