Arts Focus: Sculpture By The Sea

24 February 2016 | 6:59 pm | Gillian O’Meagher

Sculpture By The Sea returns to Cottesloe Beach from Friday, March 4, until Sunday, March 20. Gillian O’Meagher chats to 20-year-old ECU student, Aliesha Mafrici, about her involvement in this year's exhibition.

How would you describe your piece, Immersed?    

An open cube structure constructed from four L–shaped reflective aluminium panels that meet overhead to form a central square that is open to the sky. The inside of the overhead panel components are painted bright orange, which glows down onto the interior panels. The overhead opening emphasises the cinematic quality of the moving sky and changing light.

Immersed is derived from the idea of creating a sculpture with interior space that emphasises the subliminary qualities of life – moments that are equally beautiful as they can be terrifying. The immersive quality of the sculpture creates a sort of interspace where the viewer is pulled from their personal and external physical context and engages with both a very public but private experience.

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What was the inspiration behind the sculpture?

I was responding to a site which I found at first very difficult to connect with. After various visits I increasingly ignored my surroundings, technology, the noises of cars and trains passing by, and I stared into the sky. A void of infinite nothing but it had such a strong presence. In that moment everything slowed and I began noticing the little things: the sound of my own breathing, the shadows on the grass, etc. It was then I had a flooding of ideas for a form that could successfully evoke the experience I was having. A form that could encompass the viewer and put them into another realm of consciousness, where everything they know is altered and their thoughts are turned inwards. This would isolate the viewer in a public place, which is interrogating but also very peaceful. I knew scale would be a very important factor, which was very ambitious of me… everyone thought I was crazy.

Inspiration not only came from this experience, but also from a lot of theoretical research, as well as looking at many artists that look at the idea of the sublime from romantic, minimalist and contemporary contexts.

Was the location something you took into account when applying for Sculpture By The Sea? As in, did the seascape impact how you visualised the piece at all?

I feel like this piece could work visually and conceptually in many different contexts. It is a piece that pulls the viewer from their personal and psychological contexts and imposes reflection of the self and the wonder of nature - as you look up to the opening of the sky.

When this piece was previously exhibited, I watched a man lie in the centre of the piece and just stare up into the opening above. As he watched the cinematic scene of the sky float by he was taken and lost in awe. This is exactly what I wanted to happen! I had this image in my head upon applying for Sculpture By The Sea, and at the beach this seemed like an appropriate thing to do and the piece seems to work - in my mind - exceptionally well in this context. I hope people take the time and have sit inside for a while and watch the shadows change and the colours glow.

How does it feel to be the youngest artist to ever participate in Sculpture By The Sea?

Surreal. I am honestly so humbled to be involved in such an incredible exhibition. I still don’t really have the words to describe how it felt to be accepted. I am extremely anxious to be the youngest artist to participate but it is also very encouraging and hopefully the start of a very long career of putting my passion for art before all else.

Originally published in X-Press Magazine