Five questions to Patrizia Biondi

Five questions to Patrizia Biondi

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Patrizia Biondi is a Sydney-based, multi-disciplinary visual artist working predominantly with salvaged resources such as paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, timber, and ceramics. She grew up in Italy during the 1970s. The recovery of discarded supplies and their transformation into collectible works of art points to Patrizia’s concern that the deep entrenchment of consumerism with human identity could render environmental sustainability difficult to achieve. How did you get into art?

My early education was in Italy, where high school is not generic. It is specialised. I was young (and silly) enough to choose accountancy. Luck had it that my first job was in administration with an advertising company, in Australia. I soon received in-house training as a graphic designer and advertising copywriter. I worked in that field for years. My next artistic phase also fell in my lap coincidentally. During a client briefing, I offered some casual advice with the design of a fashion jewellery line. She was impressed and asked me to produce the entire range for her outside my working hours. The designs were successful. I left commercial art and went into fashion accessory design and making for years to come. With an agent in Singapore, my jewellery and handbags became popular beyond Australia. When I needed a new challenge, I undertook a degree in Visual Arts and turned to art as a way to articulate my socio-political interests and concerns. This is where I am at, now.

How would you describe your style? What makes your work special?

I can work across artistic disciplines and blend craft practices within the same artwork. My cardboard artworks, for example, reference painting, sculpture, and architecture. They also embody the practice of making through the assembly and construction process. I have developed a broad range of art and craft skills throughout my professional life. I am not a purist. I use whatever technique I need to articulate my ideas in the aesthetic form. This is quite obvious in my most recent works – My Last Breath series – which I made with salvaged glass objects and burnt Australian native shrubs that I recovered during walks through bush areas that were destroyed in the 2019 fires.How do you go about developing your work?

My art inevitably emerges from my societal interests. The way in which humanity conceives the material world is the pivotal point from which all my ideas ensue. Whether it is excessive consumption, depredation of resources or the destruction of nature, I start from my ideas. I then begin to play with various materials and configurations until I find the way to articulate those ideas visually and conceptually. Materials plays a major part in my practice. The history of humanity is embedded in materials, after all.Who or what influences you?

The artistic practices of Isa Genzken, Janice Caswell, Phyllida Barlow, to mention some, continue to exercise great influence on me about the ways in which materials can create meaning. The writings of Herbert Marcuse, Walter Benjamin, Jean Baudrillard, Roland Barthes, Simon Schama, Jonathan Crary, Slavoy Zizek, Franco (Bifo) Berardi, and many others, further my understanding of specific socio-political issues.

Make us curious. What are you planning to do next?

The current body of work in progress continues my use of recovered materials but pushes the boundaries as I am also learning to make my own biomaterials.I am also halfway through my PhD in Visual Arts. Research is pivotal to my artistic practice and I am a book nerd, so it made perfect sense for me to do a PhD – a 45,000-word thesis and two bodies of work. Portrait by Nicole Anderson Photography

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