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In Conversation: Irene Grishin-Selzer

For artist Irene Grishin-Selzer, nature is not simply a form of inspiration – it feeds her practice in a multitude of palpable ways. Witnessing the cycles within nature is a considerable influence; her clay paintings illustrate her interpretation of this process of regeneration, mapped out through abstract cross-sections and areas of exploration across the surface of the works.

As our current Artist in Focus, Grishin-Selzer builds on this notion, presenting 14 pieces spanning her signature clay paintings, as well as a collection of one-off object-based works which “carry textures and provide spaces to house and celebrate nature”.

Here on the journal, Grishin-Selzer tells us how her practice helps her make sense of the world; her powerful connection to landscape; and how her work will always return to nature.

For this Artist in Focus series, Irene Grishin-Selzer wanted to create a series of one-off vessels alongside her clay paintings.
Grishin-Selzer draws much of her inspiration from nature. She then maps this out onto clay to explore different textures.

Your work demonstrates an incredible range of textures and form. From where do you draw your inspiration, and was there anything specific you wanted to explore while creating these new works?

Being in nature feeds much of what I do. Looking at how it transforms and regenerates over the passage of time – with all those internal rhythms and patterns – provides me with an incredible amount of visual information. 

Mapping it all out onto clay whether in 2d or 3d creates room to explore different textures. It feels like I’m building up a type of abstract cartography, where aerial perspectives mix with individual points of focus, tiny areas of exploration and textural cross-sections. Sometimes the work is full of deeply encrusted topographical layers, pockets of energy, the movement of tides, tracks or little microcosms. 

For this Artist in Focus I also wanted to include a collection of one-off vessels to carry these textures and provide spaces to house and celebrate nature. Another way of bringing some of the outside, inside.

Seeing how nature transforms and regenerates over time provides Irene with "an incredible amount of visual information".
Incorporating soil into my work from where my family and I live is one tangible way to connect to abstract concepts like exploring a sense of place and the shape of time.”
— Irene Grishin-Selzer
Incorporating soil into her work is just one tangible way of strengthening the link between landscape and practice.

Your work engages directly with your surroundings, incorporating soil, sand and clay loam from around your two studios in Boon Wurrung Country (Southern Victoria) and Waywurru Country (North Eastern Victoria). What does this connection to the land mean to you?

To me it signifies a connection to everything. It’s a symbolic connector to all the natural world. Incorporating soil into my work from where my family and I live is one tangible way to connect to abstract concepts like exploring a sense of place and the shape of time. It’s one way of connecting to the landscape where all things – past and present – are linked.

"Being in nature feeds much of what I do," says Grishin-Selzer.
She adds: "When it comes to my art practice: time, exploration and conceptual rigour seem to have no boundaries."
My art practice is a place of constant exploration where I make sense of the world and my place in it.”
— Irene Grishin-Selzer
Her studio provides a physical place in which to learn, explore and make sense of the world.

How do you manage your time between your creative business Iggy & Lou Lou and your personal artworks, and how do you maintain the separation of the two stylistically?

My art practice is a place of constant exploration where I learn things and make sense of the world and my place in it. I need to do it regardless of whether I choose to exhibit the work or not. Each piece is a one-off that forms part of the way I explore overall concepts like the shape of time and a sense of place. 

When it comes to my art practice: time, exploration and conceptual rigour seem to have no boundaries.

The collection of one-off vessels in this series are intended as spaces to house and celebrate nature.
Whereas her clay paintings are her interpretation of the cycles in nature and changing landscapes.

Contrastingly I see Iggy as my day job and it’s all about making functional pieces people want to use and play with. The styles differ because although each Iggy piece is hand finished and surface treatments are all individual, the forms are made in editions up to 100, so you need to be able to cast forms from a mould.

The designs are made in a given time frame taking in all the considerations and practical constraints of running a small business so it’s a completely different headspace.

Looking at how nature transforms and regenerates over the passage of time - with all those internal rhythms and patterns - provides me with an incredible amount of visual information.”
— Irene Grishin-Selzer
Some of the object-based works in this collection carry the textures explored in Grishin-Selzer's clay paintings.

As Melbourne’s art world slowly returns to business as usual after last year’s lockdowns, what has been your favourite exhibition or event you have attended this year?

I was asked to be a guest speaker at the Craft Victoria Fresh Award exhibition earlier this year and it was such a joy to celebrate the work of the finalists in craft, design and fine art disciplines graduating throughout the state. It was so nice to see Melbourne coming alive at night again too!

Grishin-Selzer is our Artist in Focus from May 13 - 20, during which this body of work will be on display in our Fitzroy showroom.

Photography by Lisa Leek and Peter Selzer.

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