One of the astonishing things about Ruth Levine’s artworks is their originality. For the award-winning Interior Designer, studioLEVINE is the embodiment of her talent as a mixed media and textile artist. She has made her mark as a serious artist, creating beautiful sculptural artworks and artwear out of scraps of cloth – recycled, pre-loved or abandoned – embellished with her photos. They are objects to be treasured.
As a successful Interior Designer, how do you find time to produce such beautiful artworks?
Obsessive, compulsive, insomnia! Moving the practice home a couple of years ago has worked well and enabled me to be flexible with my work and play hours. I love being in the studio on the weekends and generally have a few projects happening at the same time as they all involve many processes and drying time.
What is your inspiration?
Sculptural forms, organic forms, textures and looking at a material whether it be pre-loved fabric, electrical wiring, PET bottles or other discarded objects and seeing its possibilities as bowls, sculptures, knitting.
Where did the concept of creating vessels and sculptures from fabric and photography come from?
I suppose like many designers, we see unrelated objects that you love or are fascinated with, and something in your head creates a connection. The original totems began with seeing my son’s empty PET juice bottles stacked for recycling. The particular bottle had a strong form that I thought would work in repetition. At the same time, I had just returned from Tasmania with photos of the wilderness. The stacked glued bottles reminded me of urban trees, then the light globe went off and I found myself transferring photos onto linen and wrapping them around the totems to create my urban wilderness.
How have your artworks evolved over time?
I now understand the mediums, types of fabrics and how they will perform using different processes. I keep exploring different shapes and mediums – knitting bowls from the old computer wiring from our office, for instance, I call it nest-working; or recycling office paper shredding into mache imbedded bowls… maybe I’ll do a collection called ‘Mums the word!’. My most recent obsession is modelling beautiful, rounded full-term bellies for the ultimate organic shape. I’m experimenting with different surface treatments from photographic textures to creating a more ethereal form using translucent muslin over charcoal lineal drawings and string. One in progress will consist of a few layers of interlining. The effect will be translucent, like a cloud. I may make a few to hang as a cluster or as light fittings.
How did you find the experience of exhibiting (at Spence & Lyda in 2014)?
Absolutely fantastic! When you work alone and on something you really haven’t even shared with friends, having people like what you have been creating is a relief! I find it hard as an artist to judge my own work. As a designer, now that’s a different story!
The exhibition gave me a goal and it was wonderful working with the professional Spence & Lyda team. Fiona is a dynamo with the most amazing eye! It was a sheer joy working with her on the placement of the bowls for the exhibition in her beautiful and tactile showroom.
Photographs courtesy of Ruth Levine