Space to create

After growing up in Melbourne and living in Berlin, artist Lottie Consalvo is exploring new horizons in Newcastle.

From the moment she started to paint and draw as a child, Lottie Consalvo felt that art was her calling and continued to pursue her passion throughout her teenage years and into her twenties. At age 23, she did what many artists do to explore their artistic directions. She moved to the vibrant, stimulating city of Berlin.

“I lived there for three years and immersed myself in the art world, going o art galleries and museums and creating art in my studio every day. That was my education,” Consalvo says. “I started experimenting with performance and video art which pushed me into exciting unknown territories.”

In 2015 Consalvo was chosen to do a residency with renowned performance artist Marina Abramović by Kaldor Public Art Projects. She exhibited at Heide Museum of Modern Art in 2017 and regularly exhibits at Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland galleries.

When asked what she is interested in exploring in her art, Consalvo says she’s focused on the unseen. “All the ideas I have ever looked at in my work stem from human experience and articulating our invisible worlds. I look at desire, longing, dreams, the imagination, and the search for something else beyond modern civilisation.”

Consalvo has family roots in Newcastle. Her father grew up here and she remembers visiting her Nonna in Tighes Hill. Her partner, artist James Drinkwater, is also from Newcastle. The decision to move here seemed like a natural one. “I like being in a city trying to define itself. It’s awkward and clunky but then it’s real. I live right up in the city by the water. I get to encounter the ocean everyday which plays a big part in my work. The calmness here affords me the head space to work. I can walk most places and work from home.

There have also been some very instrumental supporters here, giving us affordable studio spaces and places to live. Those things don’t seem to happen in big cities, and they are critical things that can really help an artist set sail – space and time. That’s what has influenced my work the most in Newcastle.”

The Lock Up Contemporary Art Space in Newcastle – a unique contemporary art space housed in an 1800s police station – has often exhibited Consalvo’s work. With an emphasis on producing artist-led projects that explore contemporary social issues, The Lock-Up believes firmly in artists taking risks. The historical space is a platform for artists to create new works, experiment, create dialogue, share, learn and reflect.

“I knew about The Lock-Up before I moved to Newcastle – it’s a very important gallery in the Australian art scene,” Consalvo says. “I first exhibited there when I moved to Newcastle and asked the then Director, Jessi England, if I could curate an endurance performance art exhibition at the gallery. The show exhibited some of the best-known performance artists in the country. It was a huge success and has been published in a book on performance art in Australia.

As Consalvo has become more involved at The Lock-Up, she noticed that even though the gallery is well known outside Newcastle, there is a lack of engagement with local art lovers. So she decided to help start The Lock-Up’s Patrons Program.

“The program successfully gained financial support and created a network of engaged individuals who previously hadn’t visited the gallery. We now have a dedicated group of patrons supporting The Lock-Up, with new members joining weekly. Patrons enjoy artist tours, studio visits, collection tours, and an exclusive preview of the annual COLLECT exhibition. It has fostered a strong community that cares about the gallery.”

Read more like this in our Autumn Edition of Hunter & Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.

Story by Colin Sevitt.