Artist Profile: Lisa Grennell

NEW ZEALAND ARTIST LISA GRENNELL CALVES COWS, SHEARS SHEEP AND CREATES DELICATE ARTWORKS THAT EXPLORE VULNERABILITY. ELIOT BOURNE WRITES.

Around four years ago, artist Lisa Grennell went off the grid. She and her husband completely shunned the hustle and bustle of their city lives and put down new roots in rural Glenhope, about 80 kilometres out of Nelson on the South Island of New Zealand.

Having battled a panic disorder for almost two decades, Lisa says the change has seen her health drastically improve. “It’s been a dream to own a small farm and surround myself with animals,” she describes. “I haven’t had a panic attack since moving here.”

These days, the Timaru-born artist spends her time painting, hanging out with her animals, calving and shearing: “Thankfully I’m yet to get the two confused!” In winter, her studio and her dining table become one in the same. When the summer heats up you’ll sometimes find her in her actual studio, “but I prefer the house as the animals are there”, she explains.

A rural life might be relatively new for Lisa, but art making has been there for as long as she can remember. “Art was the only subject at school I was good at and that kept me focussed,” she says. Lisa completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design from the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology in 2010. As time went on, her own children proved inspirational subjects.

Balancing her attention between the artistic expression of screen-printing and the methodical precision of detailed drawing, Lisa’s practice is driven by ideas around nature, motherhood, concern for the future, modern technology and the vast changes in our ethical standards. The soft, delicate markings that characterise much her work speak to the vulnerability of the world around us, while stencilled Street Art-inspired pieces are more direct, referencing a contemporary loss of innocence.

Lisa’s work has been repeatedly recognised with prizes at the Dunedin Art Show and the Christchurch Art Show.

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