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Saskia Van Pagee Anderson

Saskia Van Pagee Anderson (she/her) is an artist living on Dja Dja Wurrung Country, in Castlemaine. Her practice explores a deep connection to materiality in sculpture and installation. With a deep and considered connection to her work, Saskia utilises contrasting textures and materials to represent bodily and conceptualized themes. Viewing her tactile and immersive works, you can’t help but wanting to touch, inspect and explore the emotive spaces she creates.

I was lucky enough to zoom Saskia from her studio at La Trobe University. She showed me around and I got a glimpse into her creative space. Many pieces of coloured fabrics and ceramics covered the walls and surface around the studio. We then started our chat…

Working with sculpture and installation, are the materials you use a large part of your practice?

Yeah, I'm super materials based. So much of what happens is just because I am really interested in working with the material. This (university) semester I knew I wanted to play with natural dyes, with plants found locally around Castlemaine… I'm kind of doing lots of different things. It started with dying, and then it went to crochet, then both together. And then I wanted to try porcelain dipping with a natural fibre.

Are using these materials quite symbolic to you, or more experimental?

I think a lot of what I do is considering different perspectives next to each other. So like fabrics with ceramics is very much working with soft and hard, you know… I always use a shadow aspect as well, so there's a softness from light, but also that produces a darkness in certain ways. When I started the project, I was just using natural fibres and sort of wanting it to be something that eventually could biodegrade, and not be harmful. Which I think is the goal, I guess. But I do think that there's a lot more to be said about it though. For me anyway, I don't want to negate my art by focusing only on biodegradable material. I don't want to take away from reality by seeing things in just that way. And so, I'm also using things like bleach and pool chemicals. But I think the ways that I'm incorporating it, is so everything is tactile.

Do you feel like your art is quite political?

This stuff right now is not very political. Although I feel like the way that I think about everything is quite political anyway, but not political in the sense that it's like activist on a tangible level. I don't think it comes across that way in my work, but I think that the fact of using plants and that sort of thing being basis of the idea is always political. Like whether or not people know it, there is inherent ideological undercurrents.


The environment is kind of like a lens, or something that you will always bring to the art, whether or not it's a main subject. Like yeah, it doesn't have to be the main focal point, or even a specifically didactic piece to explore the environment. It can explore the environment in the undercurrents as well, which I think is really interesting.

Do you feel like your works fits within a certain art movement?

Is there a message you’re trying to communicate to the view?

Not really. There's a lot of self-reflection. I have this board, over there, which has different artists and theorists, with quotes and stuff that relates to why I'm doing what I'm doing. It's sort of just a reflection of how I see the world, or how I am. How I think everything and everyone is so interconnected, and there are a lot of material representations. Like the crochet, which is like a weaving of things. It's like a transformation of another fabric into a new fabric. It's an acknowledgement of a process of building. It's an acknowledgement of the way it stretches, which is an acknowledgement of, I guess, people's malleability. Or even the suffering that comes to people when they feel like they're stretched and spread really thin.


Also, being very materials-based, a lot of time is spent working out a concept for how I want the work to come across… Or not even come across, because I don't really care how it comes across to other people. But I always have a compositional understanding of what I want it to look like, not so much how I want people to feel or think when they're looking at it. It's more that I want it to be interesting to look at, you know. Also that it can be interesting for lots of different people to look at.

I think it's contemporary. Purely based on the fact that that's what we call art now. I think its installation work because that is a real part of it. I'm very considerate of the space that it is going to be in and why it's in a particular spot in the gallery.


Yeah, I think probably more so space. I do a lot of considerations of space in the installation process. That's actually a big part of it's because I'm looking to really draw someone in, based on the idea of actually having an emotional experience with this space, or trying to tell a story more so. Actually… not so much story… I think that the story is kind of reserved for me in a way. Like there’s nothing literal about it. I don't want to get stuck on wanting people to experience anything in particular when they see my work, but affect is really important to me.

Do you feel like ‘space’ is a large consideration in your installation work? Or are you more focused on creating a symbolic ‘place’?

Before we wrap up, what do you feel like is the most important aspect of your art practice?

I want to, as much as possible, be considerate of the impact of art and not just my art... I don't think art is as effective if it doesn't clearly have a relationship to the environment, I find that irritates me. I also really appreciate how much agency visual art gives someone. I appreciate that for myself, but I also appreciate the positive impact that can have on others. Basically, I have realised that I am responsible for my own happiness and by physically spending time creating, is also creating happiness. I totally didn’t understand this before, not everyone sees this kind of importance in visual arts, but I just can’t help it now!


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