Opening Party Preview: Mariana Del Castillo

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Mariana Del Castillo is a Canberra based artist who will be exhibiting new installation work in the Ainslie Arts Centre this Friday as part of our Opening Party!

We caught up with Mariana to find out more:

Hi Mariana, we’re so pleased to have you on board for our Opening Party! Tell us a little bit about what you have planned.

I will be exhibiting three installations in the music rehearsal pods. Each tableau explores elements of the absurd and surreal with contemporary references to urban narratives.

What’s your background as an artist?

I migrated from Ecuador in 1972 to the bombardment of Central Sydney. I moved to Canberra to study at the ANU School of art in the early 1980’s. Over the past 25 years I have consistently exhibited locally and nationally. I have worked in community art projects, working with kids at risk while exploring cathartic ways in which community arts help build resilience in young people and the community at large. At the heart of my practice is a commitment to recycling, up-cycling and transforming, everyday, found objects into building blocks for my sculptures and installations. This ethos was central to my upbringing in Ecuador and stands in contrast to my experience of Sydney’s 70′ and 80’s throw away, consumer culture.

What are the key themes that inform your practice?

Central to my art practice is my country of birth Ecuador, where a convergence of cultures – African, Inca and Spanish – has collided creating realities based on myth, magic and fantasy.  Systemic abuses in our society, institutionalized racism and the illusion of domestic perfection are themes that I seek to explore in my work.

Can you tell us a little bit more about how you incorporate your personal experiences and cultural heritage into your work?

It has been a difficult transition between the two cultures, there is a depth of displacement that child of migrants carry, and religious morals and convictions can often stand in opposition to the new secular society. This struggle is constantly played out in my art practice.

How would you describe your creative process?

I am constantly gleaning everyday objects and curios. These collections become the physical language with which I tell my stories. They start with physical drawings, paintings, marquettes and then become realized as three-dimensional tableaus.

Do you have any key influences or inspirations?

 My main influences are South American literally culture and its magic realism. I have a fascination with Francisco Goya’s Los Caprichos and Oswaldo Guayasamin figurative commentaries on social inequalities. The sculptural works of Louise Bourgeois, Hans Bellmer, Jan Švankmajer and Ansell Kiefer also inform my installations.

What do you like about having a Canberra based practice?

There is a history of protest in South America and much of my work explores ideas of injustice. There is a certain irony for me living in the centre of political power in this country.  I enjoy the city but more importantly the bush and surrounding tablelands.

What are you looking forward to seeing at the Opening Party?

I hope to explore the many rooms that make up the Ainslie Arts Centre and be surprised and delighted by the artworks and a celebration of the arts community.

  • Mariana Del Castillo, 'she visits' series (detail), 2015, mixed media, size variable. Image courtesy of the artist