Leah Grant is an Adelaide-based visual artist, known for her use of vibrant colour and street artistry. She tells Jessica Morris how life and faith have inspired her work.
What is your first memory of creating art?
That’s a hard question, it really depends how you define art. I’ve been making and experimenting all my life and I think all children find some joy and excitement through drawing and painting. I do remember watching Art Attack (ABC) as a kid (that was the best TV show!) and trying to make the craft project at home. I think I would have been around eight years old.
Your work is known for your use of mixed media and vibrant colours. Why have you chosen to use these features in your pieces?
The first time I was moved to tears in an art gallery was when I stood in front of a Mark Rothko piece when travelling around America. The scale of the work and its complete lack of representation was all-consuming. The emotion and power of the colours in his work had a big impact.
I use colour to tell a story, to help me reflect and also escape. When others view my work I enjoy hearing the ideas it provokes. A common word I hear is ‘happiness’. As an artist, I always have thoughts and ideas inspiring me as I create; however, I am very comfortable with passing on the work for others to interpret and create their own dialogue.
You often paint public spaces and bring new life to inconsequential objects. What motivates you to work outside of the studio?
I’ve always been interested in street art and its temporal nature. I love how accessible it is to the public and able to transform a wall, laneway or room.
I began working on aerosol, commissioned murals in 2015 when I was given a mentorship through the Adelaide City Council with Fredrock, a local street artist.
There are a lot of factors that motivate me; one would be the actual wall, its location, size and texture. Another would be the public and their response to the work. I’m also motivated to work on large- scale outdoor walls because it gives me the chance to further develop my technique.
Who inspires you?
So many people and so many things inspire me! My whole life to this point has formed me into the artist that I am today. Every experience, every relationship, conversation and moment has in some way shaped me into how I work. I could never simply put it down to one person. I find it’s very important for me to stay curious and open to new things; that keeps my creativity flowing and you never know where it will lead. That can be found in new friendships or new interests. I also love working with other artists who are open to sharing and talking about their practice.
How does your faith impact your creative process?
Creativity is such a weird and wonderful phenomenon. I’m still trying to figure it out and what my process is! What I do know is I don’t always feel creative and it’s not something that can just be turned on. I find my creative process is very much an up and down journey of extreme inspiration combined with motivation and rest, distraction and recovery. There’s usually a bit of stress and doubt mixed in there as well. So how does my faith fit into all of that?
My creative process is fuelled by who I am. Part of who I am is what I believe, value and do with my life. Through some of the most challenging times in my life I found hope and joy in Christ. So without him carrying me through that pain, I don’t think I would be the person I am today and I don’t think I would be seeking to bring happiness through colour.