“Creating art is why I am here.”
Paul Zimmerman in conversation with Linda Riseley
Paul Zimmerman: You are a multimedia artist. How do you create your work?
Linda Riseley: I draw and journal a lot of ideas. Mediate on what I’m wanting to say. I research the concept or idea. As an avid reader of a wide scope of subjects, I always want to draw lessons from history. Everything starts with the words: what is it that I want to say or explain? I enunciate the facts, then from that draw inspiration to explore multiple drawings. Like most creative projects I will look at what is the best way to express the idea. Is it a photograph, a digital artwork, painting or film? Often there is an iterative process when I will obsessively seek to find the best solution.
PZ: How do you find the balance between technology and artistic expression?
LR: Technology is a tool just like a paint brush. I enjoy bringing an artwork to life as I see it in my minds eye. Technology enables a lot of freedom and experimentation. I can let go and try new aspects without destroying the original. This ensures I can keep pushing not only the aesthetics but my creativity. You lose that when you paint. You have to start over, so with painting its more of a war and less of a flow! I do combine original paintings into the digital works. I’ve learned that it’s easy to glitter up an artwork but is it really making its voice heard?
PZ: Do you have any particular goal in mind when your start a new piece?
LR: Yes, absolutely to create art that is truly me and truly unique. I value authentic art, art that has a way of making you feel. I’ve got a thick skin and broad shoulders when it comes to feedback. This helps me to keep pushing forward! Keep learning, developing and never surrender to the easy. I say to myself “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, copy”. People are smart, they know genuine art: with that magic of raw artist emotions that’s poured into a work of art.
PZ: How did your practice change over time?
LR: I paint a lot more than I used to. I’m constantly driven to learn and try new techniques. I see the beauty in abstract but also want there to be little room for interpretation. I continue to draw on a wealth of subject. Some artworks I don’t release, I sit on them and keep on refining. Drawing, painting in various mediums until I feel the idea is ready to be unleashed. Others I fling open the door and release it out into the wilds of the world.
Blue By You, 2018, ink on paper, 20” x 33″
PZ: What subjects are you interested in?
LR: Politics, what’s happening in the world. Self-development but also courage to stand up and point out injustice and articulate liberty.Freedom and democracy! Both my Grandfathers fought for our freedoms. Democracy may have its flaws. We can point them out because we can! That’s the whole point of freedom. There is so much injustice in the world. Injustice.
Self development! Make the world better, even if that shakes things up! Inspire others to have courage. Kindness and peace but not lazy passivity. Stand with your heart but use your wallet! When you see companies that use slave labour don’t buy from them! If you believe in social justice save your ranting at the 1% because if you are in wealthy country you are the 1% to so many of the world! Dish out some of your own hard earn $ to help. Words are easy but take action! Riots are destructive and useless. Instead, volunteer to help build bridges both physical and emotional ones!
PZ: Which artists are you most influenced by?
LR: I tend to not be influenced on an aesthetic level but more from the standpoint of courage. Banksy’s irreverence and wit. When I was last in Venice for the Biennale a myriad of tourists were taking photos of a bridge and waterway. On the other side I spotted what I knew was a Banksy artwork. They did not notice, and I wonder how different their reaction would be if they knew. I’m sure they would have taken photos on the other side of the bridge! I admire Banksy’s ability to stay anonymous. To me that is the best of both worlds! Freedom to create without the glare of the spotlight. He takes serious topics and adds such creative humour to really drive home a message!Ai Weiwei. The courage of Ai Weiwei and artist like him. His work is powerful in its simplicity. He takes risks just in creating art. That is not a consideration any Australian artist has.Barbara Kruger. Her work is powerful on so many levels. She takes her art to the people by also using billboards. For me having people see my work is core to why I create! I always say “No use having a visual voice and whispering it on a windy day!”These artists represent courage to stand up for what you believe to be right in a non-violent way. To sway people and make them consider other’s views with often a touch of humor. I may not agree with every stand they take but I truly believe in democracy and the rights for individuals to express themselves in a peaceful non-violent way.
PZ: What is the role of art in our society?
LR: Art is a vision of the future with concepts to expand the mind’s eye. An artwork that has been created by an artist exudes the energy of the artist. Art has a way of shaking up one’s world vision in a way that few other forms can.
PZ:How would you describe yourself as an artist?
LR: I despise injustice! At my core I know that every human is the same and for the most part we all want the same things, to live free and have our families and friends be safe and prosper. Those rights are being eroded by intoxicating oversimplifications of the problems of democracy. Historically no other form of government has been as successful in achieving a higher level of equality. We should improve democracy not cave in to lies that will only bring totalitarian terror to our streets. For me I will keep pushing with my art for a kinder society. One where all people of the world can be free to live out their life in safety and kindness. We in the developed countries (regardless of our level of wealth) are the 1% to those in developing countries! We should stop pointing fingers at shadows and stand up! Not purchase products made by slaves, give to our chosen charities and find the faith in ourselves and our spiritual beliefs to work on our internal selves to be better people. The world needs all people to flourish.
PZ: What are you working on now?
PZ: Freedom and democracy. Both my Grandfathers and my Great Grandfather fought for our freedoms. Democracy may have its flaws that we can point out because we can! There is so much injustice in the world that everyone is ignoring! I’ve had a gun to my face, I know what it is to weirdly think if I move my head a little to the right the bullet would go through my jaw and save me! There is not much that frightens me except for people’s apathy and self-centredness.
There is hope! Hope because people are waking up and seeing they are responsible. They have the power within to improve themselves emotionally, spiritually and financially. In the hardest of times we all have a choice to show who we truly are to those around us. We are all better than that! Hear the other voice, what if you realize you’ve been conned? What if there’s a plot twist and you were standing with the villain, instead of the hero?
PZ: How does the pandemic influence your work and sensibility?
LR: Life is short! That’s the message for me from the pandemic! My cousin told us all she had 6 weeks to live. I thought it had to be a mistake. Sadly, it was not, she had brain cancer and died shortly after. She was younger than me! My heart broke, I thought of all the time I am wasting. Time on irrelevant things when I should be creating art! Giving expression to my voice! Creating art is why I am here. Standing up and pushing back against the evils! The virus showed me how some places truly see their workforce. Expendable fodder! So now I stand up and every day I pursue my art! This year I will release the book I wrote 5 years ago. My new website is in professional development. I’ve created new and impactful art and music videos that I hope will inspire others to follow their heart voice for the world. I look forward to more exhibitions and collaborations. The world has the chance to improve to lift up those around us and move forward into a free democratic world where everyone can make basic choices over their existence. I’d love to see a universal bill of freedom.