Get to know the work of Louisa Magrics, and you might begin to see crochet in a new light.
The Newcastle-based artist is quietly working the craft into the realm of fine art, using its netted forms as a medium for geometric explorations. Her room-filling installations and face-masking wearables, often constructed from reclaimed yarn, produce an impression that is both alien and familiar.
Louisa won the 2015 Newcastle Emerging Artist Prize and was highly commended as a finalist at the National Graduate Exhibition at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts this year.
She completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Newcastle with First-Class Honours and a Faculty Medal. On the face of it, one might assume she has something that many aspiring artists long for: a straightforward roadmap to success.
On closer inspection, though, her progression has been more organic than planned out. “I’ve played the drums for over 10 years,” says Louisa, who has played punk to prog rock and world music. “After a decade of pursuing a collaborative art form, the independence of crochet as a creative outlet was pretty awesome.”
“I love that I can do it in my own time and space, and yet so many of the ideas behind rhythm and music composition seem to transfer over.”
Listening to Louisa talk about her art, it’s clear that it comes from deep-held personal interests and curiosities. But in terms of a career, and considering drastic arts cuts by current governments – how does one pay the bills?
“It’s really hard,” she says. “You have to be dedicated, self-motivated and maybe a bit crazy. To be honest, I think [making a career as an artist] is a kind of an ‘invent it yourself’ situation.”
Similar to most people who pursue professional lives in the arts, it’s not money that keeps Louisa on track.
“There’s a lot of not-so-nice stuff going on in the world right now. I want to be part of creating positive change. The way I do this is via art, and to me it’s more valuable than financial security… for now, anyway.”
For young people considering an artistic career, this raises an important issue. While you may have a strong passion for creativity, “It’s important to create some kind of sustainable balance so you are able to keep creating.”
Louisa points out that artists can (and do) empower their practice by contributing to the building of networks that will support a sustainable arts sector – or, at least, defining what needs to be done to bring this vision into reality.
She’s positive about the outlook for artists who adopt this type of problem-solving. “It’s possible these creative, innovative thinkers could be invaluable members of collaborative teams, engaging with architects, engineers and scientists… With all of the new technological tools at our disposal, I’m really excited to see what the creative landscape looks like in 10 years’ time.”
While looking to the future, Louisa is also bringing her practice into contact with her cultural roots. “I’m interested in how context shapes perspective… my family migrated to Australia from Sicily and Latvia, so I’m really keen to visit those places and do a few site-specific installations in natural landscapes over there.”
“I see [art] as a form of language where the definitions are a bit more fluid. By exploring spaces in between what we know or understand our own interpretations may be challenged, or furthered. I believe that art, like music and storytelling, is part of what pushes our evolution forward.”
It takes a rare kind of mindset to pursue something other than regular pay checks. Perhaps we’d all benefit from creating a landscape that supports such people to weave a new reality together.