Artist Interview: Linde Ivimey - Art Collector

18 July 2011

Melbourne sculptor Linde Ivimey will be showcasing new works with Martin Browne Contemporary at this year’s Auckland Art Fair. Ivimey, who is renowned for her woven bone sculptures, discusses the dexterity and emotional difficulty involved in the making of her latest collection, which includes a life-size sculpture of a baby titled The Patron Saint of Delinquents.

Linde Ivimey, Savio, 2011. 95 x 55 x 50cm. Courtesy: the artist and Martin Browne Contemporary

Can you describe the Patron Saint of Delinquents, the medium and it’s scale?

It’s a baby sitting in a high chair and it’s got an armour like one of those Bond’s baby suits but its made of what looks like a chain mail of woven tiny vertebrae. It’s sits in a high chair in quite a kingly or princely manner with one hand out. In his other hand, he’s suckling a fish made out of layered Louis Roederer labels.

The Patron Saint of Delinquents spans almost a metre tall, do you tend to work in such a large scale?

For me, the size of the works I make depends on my physical ability. If I’m up and about, and capable I’ll do something more life-size. But then a baby is not such a big thing. I haven’t been able to manage anything large in the last couple of years … I’m really comfortable with working on my lap so I don’t have this physical approach of gnashing out sculptures or anything. It’s a quiet relationship between head and hand, lap and bench top.

Linde Ivimey, Renovamen, 2011. 125 x 40 x 35cm. Courtesy: the artist and Martin Browne Contemporary

How long does it take to complete a sculpture?

I could be curing or cleaning up to 40 kilos of chicken necks to make one of those sculptures like The Organ Donor and that will take me months, but once I’ve got them all together, it could take only take a month and a half to weave it all into form.

Would you be able to run through the process by which you begin making a new work. Does the idea come first or will an interesting bone inspire you?

Its always a good beginning for me to start with feet, whether it is casting some feet, modeling some feet or carving them out of wood…If I don’t know what I’m doing, I’ll allow the sculpture to control itself and I’ll let it stand on its own feet and then it’ll know where it can go from there.

Last night I was researching the way cats hold their kittens and I’m going to be using that, the way they use their mouth … I’m going to be using that with human hands on a sculpture

What do you think is the main emotion that influences this collection of works?

I’d have to refer to an expression that I’ve been hearing in my head and I’ve been hearing it for a long time. “As long as you’ve got your health”, they say, and so for me, it’s about when health fails. I think there’s a lot of emotion that goes with that when your body fails you.

It seems like everyone always asks you why you use bone, but I’m more interested in how you prepare the bones. Can you tell me about your preparation methods

It’s a laborious process. My darling mother does a lot of it for me now, so we send these beautiful parcels to each other. I don’t send fresh raw meat with bones in it, she gets that herself, but she lives in Western Australia these days and she sends me parcels of string that she makes and bones that she’s cleaned and I just know that I can ring mum and tell her what I need and I trust her to do an immaculate job.

It’s emotionally difficult, and there’s a fair bit of dexterity cleaning bones and a it requires a bit of a hard gut. It’s a different thing to having a roast chicken or a leg or lamb and deciding to clean up those bones. With taking a whole animal that someone offers you, it's sophisticated than butchering and there's more spiritual divining.

Do you think it’s influenced the types of works you’ve created?

Definitely, without doubt. I do believe in an afterlife for all of us. I do believe in that but I like to think that even in the form that I use these animals and these bones in, that they’re offered one that is, quite well respected. It’s tricky when I get to that point.

You will showing at the Auckland Art Fair this year, do you find New Zealand audiences give you a different response compared to Australian audiences?

I think they are so well acquainted with traditional Maori use of bone that its ingrained in their culture, so that when they see bone and animal bone prepared in a different way I think they’re more readily able to make a connection and say “that’s really interesting”. I really do believe that. I think they have already got such a good handle on stone and bone in their spiritual crafting that they are very easily able to look a bit further into what I do.

Linde Ivimey will be featured by Martin Browne Contemporary at the Auckland Art Fair running from August 4-7 2011.

Amy Yang

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