Trisha Lambi is an Australian artist whose work is lovely and very sensual. Trisha says it’s all about light http://www.trishalambi.com/ which is certainly true. I chatted with her about her process, her life and what it’s like to live in wide open spaces in Queensland.
“… I've been aware of the healing/meditative aspect of art for quite some time. Even as a kid, although I wouldn't have been able to put a name to it, but I knew it took me away …”
MICHAEL: Hello Trisha, All of your work is very sensual. I see it in all of your work regardless of genre. What does sensuality mean to you? Why is this such a big part of your work?
TRISHA: Thanks Michael. I'm thrilled to be a part of your interviews. My work is often described as sensual which I find interesting as I don't consciously try to attain that effect. To me, sensuality concerns the gratification of all or any of the senses and in this regard I can see how it comes through in my paintings. What really inspires my work is light - light on skin, light on inanimate objects and light on anything really. If I can see light splashing on an object in a certain way, usually dramatic, I find myself itching to paint it and I'm always excited to begin. I paint in oils and I love their buttery consistency. I often use my hands instead of a brush to apply the paint so perhaps this earthy involvement with the medium translates as sensuality.
MICHAEL: I don't know Trisha. For me, light and buttery consistency equal sensuality. LOL. Your lighting is quite dramatic which adds to this sensuality. It's almost like old school, Golden Age, Hollywood lighting. Thoughts?
TRISHA: Well, when you put it that way! I absolutely love dramatic light - it's what motivates and inspires all my work. The light here in Australia is strong, clear and hard - very different to the soft hazy light of the northern hemisphere - and it creates striking tableaux. Having grown up with this light, it is second nature in my work if that makes sense because it's everywhere I look.
MICHAEL: You paint a lot of sensual women. I know what inspires me to look, but what inspires you to paint them?
TRISHA: Good question! I have no idea. I've been drawing women since I could hold a pencil - my parents’ books were covered in them! My parents had eight children and I'm the youngest of five daughters so perhaps that has something to do with it - my dad always said it was a petticoat government.
MICHAEL: How exactly did art come into your life? Are there any other artists in your family? How did art happen for you? When did you first realize that you were an artist?
TRISHA: I've been drawing for as long as I can remember and two of my sisters paint as well as an aunt and a great aunt, so it is in the family. I used to love watching my eldest sister paint. I can still remember that feeling of being taken away into another world. I must have gotten carried away though as she tells me I'd often spill her water over the painting.
TRISHA: After school, I deferred university for a year. I'd been accepted into teaching and during that year, I decided to study for a degree in visual arts. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy it and dropped out after a few months - something I still regret doing. Over the years I would continue drawing and painting haphazardly, doing a few lessons here and there, but never sticking to it yet all the while feeling the urge to paint. It wasn't until my eldest child was born that I really threw myself into my art. In my spare time, I'd draw portraits of him and soon began doing baby portraits professionally. Soon I was back painting - mainly landscapes and still life, but it was the advent of the internet which really boosted me along. I built myself a website and it grew from there. So that was a long winded way to say that I think all along I've known I was an artist!
MICHAEL: Where in Australia are you? Australia seems like such a warm, magical place where everyone is happy. What's it like there? How does the environment inspire and affect your work?
TRISHA: Well, at the moment we're nearing the end of the first month of Autumn and I've just got out of the pool. It's 2 p.m. and it's 31 degrees Celsius so I am looking forward to some cold weather! Not that it ever gets really cold here. We live on acreage overlooking the Brisbane River in Karalee Queensland. It's a small, semi-rural suburb of Ipswich, and while it is out of the way, I love the tranquility here. The river is always changing and the light on the ghost gums on the opposite river bank is always inspiring. On the weekends the river is busy with people boating, fishing and waterskiing. It's a very peaceful place.
MICHAEL: Wow. Save a space for me. I’ll be there next week. LOL. From your description, it sounds like a laid back, calming and relaxing place. However, the female figures in your paintings strike me as powerful, urban sophisticates. They appear to make you more suited to big city environments. No?
TRISHA: I grew up on a farm, but worked in the city so I'm comfortable in both worlds. My parents were on the farm up until their deaths in 2014 so it was always a refuge - a place to escape to. The city was great when I was single, but I knew I wanted to bring my kids up in a quieter place. I still love the hustle and bustle, but I need somewhere to breathe.
MICHAEL: My condolences about your parents. What roles would you say they played in your development as an artist and person?
TRISHA: Thanks. It's been a rough few years. They were quite simply wonderful parents - we were given the freedom to be and do whatever we wanted. They never pushed us in any direction. They were simply there for us whenever we needed them. Family was their life and I will always be grateful for the values they've instilled in me. I didn't grow up in an “arty” household by any means, but my parents both loved to read and there were always books around to broaden my horizons.
MICHAEL: What role has your work played in your life these past few years?
TRISHA: It's been my refuge - it's where I have come to escape the emotional trauma the past few years have dished up. Dad had a long battle with cancer and soon after he died Mum was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. She died eight months after Dad. Painting takes me away to a less painful place yet all the while I'm processing the emotions without realising it.
MICHAEL: Isn't it a shame how society has totally devalued arts education? If we had more arts education in schools, people would know that they can use art to help them process pain and challenges in life. When did you first become aware of this and aware of yourself as an artist?
TRISHA: Definitely. I couldn't agree more. My kids had one token art lesson a week in which they weren't even allowed to talk! No release there! I think I've been aware of the healing/meditative aspect of art for quite some time. Even as a kid, although I wouldn't have been able to put a name to it, but I knew it took me away.
MICHAEL: When you're actually painting, what's that process like? Is your mind empty or filled with thoughts? What are you thinking? Is the painting process more intellectual, emotional or spiritual?
TRISHA: Well, at the moment I'm thinking why the hell can't I get this rose right!
TRISHA: But usually my head is filled with all sorts of thoughts and daydreams. I think painting allows my mind to roam freely, from the mundane everyday to complex issues both personal and universal. I wouldn't say it's intellectual. It’s more a mix of emotion and spirituality. I'm not aware of any thought processes at the time - I don't consciously set out to ponder. To me it's similar to meditating - the act of painting clears my mind and off it goes.
MICHAEL: Finally Trisha, Is it more important to you that people feel your art or understand it?
TRISHA: Since I don't really understand it myself I think it is more important when they feel it. It really makes it all worthwhile when someone says they feel the emotion in my work. There's nothing better than knowing you've touched someone when you've poured so much of yourself into a piece.
MICHAEL: Trisha, Hold on! So many people feel that they have to have an art history degree to “understand” art. It seems to me that as the artist you're freeing people from this misconception. Are you?
TRISHA: Oh God definitely! There's way too much pretension in the art world and a lot of people are made to feel ignorant if they don't “understand” an artwork.
MICHAEL: Thanks Trisha. This has been a lovely chat.
TRISHA: Thanks Michael, I really enjoyed it.
Check out Trisha Lambi at http://www.trishalambi.com/.