Artist Tracy Luff makes beautiful, intricate sculptures out of what most people would think of as rubbish. She makes weekly visits to local supermarkets, hardware stores and appliance retailers to source her material of choice: cardboard.
Time Out caught up with Tracy to talk about her work in 4A's Three Emerging Projects exhibition.
Tracy, tell us about what informs the art you create. What’s your work really all about?
As a human being, I reflect on my life growing up, coming to Australia, the environments I live in – physical and social – and the things I treasure. As an artist, these things become my inspiration but another important factor is working with different mediums. I have been using fluted cardboard for many years now and have become very familiar with it.
How would you describe your work to those who have never seen it?
The viewer has to experience my work and interpret it for themselves – but to answer the question: I work in many mediums but I am known for my work with sculpting cardboard – it’s big on texture, organic forms and sometimes it moves and dances to greet you.
Can you take us through your creative process?
Cardboard comes in different sizes and thicknesses. To construct a long and tall work I need to calculate how many disks I need and how many of different thickness for each shape. To work it out I use a spreadsheet on my computer. This method also enables me to stretch or condense the size of the work. To help speed my design process I create small maquettes or even a single larger work and photograph it so I can manipulate the images with my computer. I stretch and distort them until I am happy with the form. I can also assemble many works this way to simulate an installation in space.
Besides sculpture, what are other artistic avenues you would like to explore?
I would love to find the time to spend working in 2D form. I have been thinking about applying for a residency overseas to give me the time and space to explore this. I’ve only ever studied in a western context, and I want to explore my own heritage in an artistic way.
Tell us about your work showing in the Three Emerging Projects show.
My work is a reflection of myself in one way or another. Tip-toe tip-toe where can I go is about finding a place where I feel welcome and comfortable – without treading on toes. In the design of the installation I considered the space in the context of being in the middle of Chinatown. Lots of people, quite crowded and many of them are from other countries – settled here. Do they feel the same as me? You could look at the installation in many ways: a new environment that you experience – interacting with all the unfamiliar people; or perhaps all the individuals tip-toeing around looking for their place; maybe look at the groups within the installation and see how they relate to each other.