Artist Profile: Tobi Wilkinson

TOBI WILKINSON’S PHOTOGRAPHS REMIND US WHAT IT MEANS TO BELONG. STELLA MARTINO WRITES.

FOR SYDNEY-BASED ARTIST Tobi Wilkinson, the gift of a camera led to the gift of an art practice. But her love for art and photography has been present ever since she started collecting black and white postcards many years ago.

“I take photos because I feel like an outsider,” says Tobi. The artist feels a strong urge to explore topics she feels disconnected from and uses photography to uncover what lies behind the obvious. While her photographs are stylistically beautiful, Tobi hope her “images take you into a deeper part of the subject, a part that maybe you hadn’t yet thought about”.

Drawing inspiration from the unknown, Tobi’s photographs are a part of a larger revelatory process, containing layers of meaning hidden in between the cracks of the obvious.

Working predominantly in what she calls her “she-shed” – a spacious, light-filled studio – Wilkinson likes to have an early start coupled with a cup of tea to set the tone for the day. “I have as much art up on the walls as I can,” she says, from paintings to sculptures to photographs. “They inspire me, talk to me or just remind me.”

When shooting on film, “there’s no instant feedback” notes Tobi. In this sense, shooting on film demands more intuition and presence. While she holds a deep fondness for her film camera, she has learnt over time to appreciate the artistry created when shooting on digital. “I appreciate the flexibility it gives me when I shoot in more challenging situations,” she says.

Wilkinson has recently wrapped up a nine-year project with Gyuto Tantric Monastery capturing sacred moments in Tibetan temples. It was the dim lighting in the temples that forced Tobi to favour digital over film. Now, she is able to maintain a flexible approach to her practice: “I choose between colour or black and white, film or digital, depending on how I feel the subject can best be expressed.”

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