This month we proudly present:
Liz describes her art as two-dimensional sculpture, endlessly layered, and reflecting her development as an artist and individual. The theme of Liz’s work is her response to painful childhood memories. The process generally starts with harsh colours, slowly and intuitively constructing layer upon layer of paint, paper, gauze, threadwork and found materials, covering and mending the harshness of her experiences, weaving together a calmness, the tones becoming muted, the detail intricate. This is how she works through the emotional trauma of a life with her late mother who suffered from mental illness. Art is a necessity for Liz, a way of restoring calmness, and a guide to personal growth.
She has been inspired and learned so much from her husband, three children and two grandchildren all of whom she adores. Liz recognises many people who have influenced her art journey including Pierre Lombart, Toni-Ann Ballenden, Marlise Keith, Lionel Davis, Wendy Rosselli and Valda Preen.
Almost immediately after a very short encounter with Liz, over the phone and a brief encounter with her work, I knew instantly that trying to access her work would provoke the beginning of an emotional confrontation with myself. It takes courage to walk into the studio and combat pain in the hopes of finding love on the other side. Her journey has left me marked with the impression that sometimes the best works of art might not always give us a blissful escape, but sometimes they challenge us to reach into places we dare not venture.
“Fighting sadness, is necessary war”In the words of poet Upile Chisala
So, in that respect, we ask you to venture with us- Using the courage that the canvas gives us, to explore the following 3 pieces by Liz Hansen.
ON THE SURFACE OF THINGS
It is a marvel how much energy can go into a single piece. Torn pieces of books, gauze, maps, and more, are all heavily layered together in the effort for resolution. As the title suggests, we truly can only observe this interaction between artist and medium on its surface. The density of the work invites us to continue the attempt to work through the individual layers and unpack what has brought us to this surface. As an image, we see the torso of a female figure, and a clear illustration of a woman’s breasts. Breasts are a symbol that Hansen uses to illustrate mothering and nurturing, as a result of a painful and traumatic childhood.
“Countless layers of hurtful words and healing gauze – ultimately it is just the outer form that is seen. There is so much that lies beneath the surface”Liz Hansen’s description of her work
In the quest to grapple with the intensity of the work, we see multiple fused layers and textures. The infinite layers of text in the image create a sense of desperation, causing the viewer to endlessly try and create a sense of rationality in putting the torn words together again. In further layers we find traces of old maps that signal towards locating oneself, leading us once more on an endless chase to piece the broken parts together, hoping to reach to a clear path out of the brokenness. In describing her process for this work Hansen explains how no amount of layering ever resolved the pain, no number of maps helped in paving her way of the work or out of her journey with her late mother.
In this disorientating progression through the work, we find a redeeming layer that aids us in changing our perspective towards the image – The gauze. The gauze is the memento which reminds us of healing, it also reminds us that through this journey, healing has inevitably begun. With that in mind we are able to zoom out of the image again with a new gaze. Now, the broken pieces of books, maps or gauze no longer need to come together to form the image they used to form. Even within their brokenness they can be joined to claim a new identity.
I CHOSE TO REMEMBER
“Two-dimensional sculpture of a woman’s torso that emits a feeling of strong fragility”Liz Hansen’s description of this work
The gauze, which we see featured in the previous work, clothes the female figure. The skirt of her dress gathers together, being created from pages in a telephone directory, which makes one think of the community we attempt to access after trauma.
For the process to create this work, she explains that surface was originally occupied by bright, vivid colours which she worked over in her efforts to heal.
The concept of colour becomes intangible in the work. We remain however aware that colour existed on its surface before, as we see small traces left of the vivid hints of red and blue in some of the cracks in the work. The colour has been washed over and worked through. The female figure stands elegant, after turmoil. She is coated in grey grandeur, similarly to the memorial statues that commemorate fallen soldiers after a war.
The cracks of colour amidst the ‘grisaille’ or dreariness, remind us of a grey sky we look up to in the hopes of seeing a glimpse of sunlight after a storm.
DEEPER FEELINGS REMAIN
In this work, the artist continues to cathartically mend her relationship with her late mother. A new material element makes its appearance: cement. The contrast between hardness and softness, speaks towards a critical element of healing – the difficulty of deciding which parts of ourselves to leave hardened or softened in the wake trauma. Hansen reminds us that the journey will continue and that we will still evolve longer after passing through pain.
We thank you for taking this short journey with us, exploring the work of an artist who displays bravery in using art as a method to confront the inner workings of pain, and creates beauty through a process of transparency. In leaving the works, one can only hope to access the same courage. We look forward to seeing the future journeys on which her talent and honesty will take her; and thank Liz for allowing us into the intimacy of her studio.
With Love and Passion,
The SAFFCA Team