November 9, 2018

Artist Spotlight featuring Valentina Maxwell-Tansley

Artist Spotlight

Up next in our latest artist spotlight is Valentina Maxwell-Tansley, a contemporary printmaking artist and surface designer who works with textured paper collage. Based in Melbourne, Australia, Valentina initially studied music, and sound design before shifting her focus into the visual sphere. She completed a Diploma of Visual Arts with the International School of Colour and Design and graduated as Surface Designer of the year in 2016. 

“My work focuses on the deeper emotional addiction we have in consumerist behaviour. The notion that convenience is more important than ethics in disposable culture has weighed heavily in the creation of this artwork,” explains Valentina.

“I consciously choose to work with discarded waste objects as the starting point of each piece. I use items such as plastic, cardboard and foam packaging. I carefully print these objects onto a predetermined mathematical selection of coloured paper, using a combination of relief printing techniques. The prints are then cut or torn, representing the subconscious destruction of beauty. The paper fragments are then reassembled and manipulated into controlled chaos.”

 Valentina’s works are housed in many private collections and she has held exhibitions at Brunswick Street Gallery, Linden New Art, and Gippsland Art Gallery.

Derelict Disruption, and printed torn paper collage on salvaged board, 79 x 59cm

What was the hardest thing to do while making this particular artwork? Is there one section that you struggled to get right?

This artwork was a little trickier to complete than the others, due to the inclusion of a new type of paper I hadn’t worked with before. I chose the royal blue translucent paper as it had a nice contrast with the other paper types and printed up well. However, it became very distorted when applied with glue in the collage process. This meant it took longer than normal to get the paper fragments layered in place.

Some people say that every artwork you make is in some way a self-portrait. How is this piece a portrait of you?

One of my favourite found objects was used in this work, a balsa wood off cut. This small rectangular piece of wood makes great square stamped patterns and I used it a lot in this series of works. It features here printed in blue paint on silver paper.

Drastic Plastic, Hand printed collage on board, 79 x 60

If this artwork could talk, what would it say?

Aesthetically, this work was truly inspired by the vibrant 1980’s. The colour palette was really drawn from that era – brightly coloured hair and fluro socks. If this artwork was any other artform it would have to be an 80’s dance video!

When I studied art I learnt many interesting techniques, but printmaking was one that really resonated with me. I had a great teacher who introduced me to many new printmaking methods, and one of these, gelatine printing, was used in this work (the pink paper was printed using a gelatine plate and plastic mesh). Since my studies I have experimented with many printmaking methods, and my current work is firmly based in that evolution.  

Detritus Dependence, Hand printed torn paper collage on plywood, 60 x 90cm.

This piece was the first work I completed in this series. I had done some sketches and planned out what I wanted to do, but I wasn’t entirely sure how it was going to work out. I spent a lot longer on this work than any of the others, as I had to figure out the mathematical placement of paper as I went. This piece came out bolder and more intense than I had originally anticipated, but I was happy with the result, so the work then became the template for the rest of the series.

As this was the first work in the series I really spent a lot of time on the colour palette; and suffered some indecision over which printed papers to include. You’ll notice that this is the only work which has a paper overprinted in two colours (the black and silver on blue). This was done to tie the palette with the other papers together, however in the following works I resolved the colour schemes without having to overprint.   

Detritus Devour, Hand printed torn paper collage on plywood, 60 x 90cm, $395

Of any of my recent works, this one is the closest to being a self-portrait. It wasn’t intentional, but I can definitely see some of myself in this one. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I generally wear a lot of black and this work is all about black. I also have a real interest in patterns and controlled chaos – this work features both of those in a monochrome way.

Some people say that every artwork you make is in some way a self-portrait. How is this piece a portrait of you?

One of the techniques featured in this work is my signature paint scrape (seen here in silver on black paper). When I complete a printmaking session I roll out the leftover paint onto glass and then use a couple of different scrapers to make a pattern. I then press paper onto the paint and lift off a monoprint of the pattern. This makes a great graphic print and also uses up excess paint that would otherwise go to waste.

Rejectamenta Relic, Hand printed torn paper collage on salvaged board, 75 x 60cm

Tell us about something you had to learn to become the artist you are now. Can we see this in this artwork?

This work is probably my favourite from this series as I chose the colour palette specifically to fit into my own home’s décor. I wasn’t particularly intending to hang it in my own home, but it was an experiment to see how it would come out. This piece is not going to work in a lot of modern neutral interiors. It’s for lovers of colour and bold statements – those with homes featuring cosy coloured textiles, quirky objects and a lot of character!

All the works in this series feature printed waste objects, many of which you can see in this work. They include old bag handles (pink on grey paper), old twine (blue on black paper), discarded builders plastic mesh (blue on pink paper), balsawood offcut (blue on silver paper) and the waste that round magnets were punched from (black on blue paper). I like to use discarded objects in my art to draw attention to the waste problems in our society.

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