Museum of Brisbane

Artist Profile: Simone Eisler


What made you decide to become an artist?   

I had an enchanted childhood, surrounded by collections inherited from my artist grandmother, and with a freedom to play and create outside in the natural environment. My love of discovery and invention was also stimulated by my father who was a vet. I frequently accompanied him to jobs and was fascinated by the medical side of healing via a process of elimination. His interest in genetics and evolution is reflected in my own transformation/hybridisation of animals and humans in my art. Apart from these influences l was just one of those kids who was always drawing and creating who had no intention of being anything but an artist. I didn’t really understand exactly what it meant to be an artist at that time but it did help me to understand my place and being within the world.


Your 2010 photographic series ‘Night Vision’ explores the primality that links humans to animals, and the duality between ritualism and discovery,  light and darkness, mystery and clarity. What were the ideas behind this work? 

Most of my photographic series are linked primarily to installations, so they need to be seen within that context. The Night Vision series came from the Armoured Forest installation I created for the 2009 Arc Biennial of Art at the Howard Smith Wharves. The space within the then disused warehouse was transformed into a place evocative of an ancient world/a future world or somewhere in between – a place where some kind of catastrophic event had led to a new evolved set of species with their own armour or protection. Importantly this world is dark and shadowy. l placed myself as a shadowy human presence, painted in dark paint and barely visible except for definition afforded by an animal exokeleton. I try to set up a scenario which is not clear cut and balances upon conflicting possibilities – is this the last rite of a civilization defenceless against its own weapons or does it represent a forerunner of a lost or new physical power re-emerging or emerging once again?  I use ritual and an underlying sexuality in the work to bring to the foreground something deep and hidden and generally repressed in the modern mind. For me also as a woman this performative act is a way of saying that women finally stand exposed to face a new world, sure of her own sexuality and protected by an animistic aura.


What does the term ‘new woman’ mean to you?

To me ‘new woman’ represents the possibilities of being able to be an artist recognized for my work in general, regardless of my gender and yet also being recognized as an artist who explores their own femininity and sexuality without being influenced by current trends. It also represents to me the development of a wide ranging and professional practice that is anchored in regular exhibitions, residencies, major public art commissions, and strong demand by schools and communities for my workshops. I have always survived financially through my art and been prepared for the hard yards as well as the exciting showcase moments. I feel I have reached a new maturity, perhaps in that way I am at that new phase of being a woman who is not reliant on the desperate need to be totally accepted by the artworld.  I know there will be other stages of the journey and that’s exciting!  I’m always looking forward to creating my next body of work and responding to new possibilities thrown my way.  


What does a typical day in the studio look like (if there is such a typical day)?

Essentially my life is my work and because I work for myself, and love and family and everything is connected to it, none of it stops. So there is definitely no typical day!  For example this week, I’m working on concepts for two public projects which involves research of fabrication and material options as well as the creative sculptural art making to generate ideas and then the admin to pull that all together as a design package for presentation. I’ve been in two schools running workshops and presenting talks as well as packing for a week away in North Queensland where I’ll be working in a remote school as an artist for Flying Arts. I’m putting in tenders for projects and doing my GST as well as keeping up with correspondence for future commissions and exhibitions. I’m also in design development phase for a major project until December. I’ve just finished four new sculptures so I’ve packed them off for exhibition. I’m writing artist statements and finding images and captions for people. So with regards to the studio I pass through it in different ways, creating between all of this other creative and design work that goes on.  


Any upcoming projects, goals or collaborations you’d like to share with us?

I’ve won several shortlistings for various public art projects this year so I’ve been busy developing concepts for those, some of which are coming to fruition in the new year. I have a public sculpture being unveiled at the end of this month in Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Garden on the Sunshine Coast.  I’m designing a major light sculpture sited by a dam in Tambo, Central Queensland. I’m also working as part of a  creative team with AECOM and POMO on a major regional play attraction project. It is the latest stage in the Southport Broadwater Parklands on the Gold Coast, and the works are currently moving into design development. 

I’m busy moving my collections, tools and materials into a brand new studio ready to begin a body of photographic and sculptural works. I’m looking to do more international site-specific projects and residencies as well as planning a large-scale installation.


Images: (1) Artist Simone Eisler photographed at Museum of Brisbane’s New Woman exhibition. Photo: Paulina Morales. (2) Simone Eisler, Night Vision 1, 2010, chromogenic print. Photo: Carl Warner. Courtesy Gadens Brisbane.