Santa Fe leaning against Adobe Building
Lottie Consalvo is an artist working across a range of media including painting, sculpture and performance. I met Lottie through her husband James Drinkwater when we collaborated with him on a print for ALPHA60 about 4 or 5 years ago. We had an instant connection and have kept a long distant friendship going ever since.
Lottie is effortlessly cool and an incredibly talented artist. I am the proud owner of one of Lottie’s paintings. It is lovely to have her presence in my home. In lockdown out of the blue, Lottie sent me a novel to read (Outline by Rachel Cusk). It was such a kind gesture and she was right, I loved the book! We have had wonderful conversations about the moon, motherhood and finding awe in nature. I caught up with Lottie long distance style while she was travelling America to continue our conversation and document it for you.
The Bowery Hotel NY
You mentioned you recently did a series based on the moon - did you discover anything about the moon during your process?
I have been placing moons or describing references to moons in my titles for years. This interest intensified after I had a dream that the moon was ending. It looked like a glowing meteorite dropping chunks of burning coal onto the earth. Like in an apocalyptic film we all huddled under trees and cars and shelters as we watched it crumble onto us until there was nothing left. We thought the world would end but there was this sense that nothing had changed, nothing happened at all.
My first few experiences of documenting the full moon from life presented something strange. I tried dipping drawings in the ocean and dragging Masonite along the shore for an hour under the full moon. I expected them to curl up and have beautiful drips and stains yet the next morning they looked as if I hadn't touched them, they were perfect. I have a theory that she, the moon, doesn't allow us to take her awe away and try to possess it like we do with everything else, she just lets us experience it in the present. I decided to stop trying to document the moon and rather communicate with her, that seems to be working a lot better.
The Harwood Museum in Taos, Agnes Martin room
We are a society of being 'awe deprived' mostly through our lack of connection with epic nature, the moon and the stars. Do you need to keep connected to nature for your practise? If so, how do you do that?
Nature is a big part of my work. I refer to it and parallel it to the human condition. Art and nature are similar things. Both can be difficult to make sense of and understand and yet can move us in ways we cannot fathom. I live by the sea in Mulubinba, Newcastle and I also spend time in the bush on Worimi land at a place called Pindimar. I walk through there aimlessly just with a compass, phones don't work out there and anyway I'm too busy speaking with the trees. Nature is always communicating to us but in big cities we often forget and continue looking for things that give us a sensation like it in human made places and guess what, we never find it.
Julian Schnabel's property with sculpture behind, Montauk
Julian Schnabel's openair studio, Montauk
When did you know being an artist was your path?
I used to draw a lot as a kid in my room alone, it was just mine and I liked that. When I was 13, I realised that I liked the ‘feeling’ making art gave me, it’s the same feeling it gives me now. I liked that feeling, so I decided I wanted to feel it every day.
If you were not an artist what would you be doing?
Actor - I'm still working on it.
Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock studio in Long Island
Are you a fan of rituals? Any you care to share?
Are we talking witchy ones? I was big into rituals when I was younger. As a teenager I put a love spell on an ex-boyfriend and to this day I still think it worked. I was quite naughty as a 13-year-old and one day decided I should stop. I made up a spell and potion. You know, the usual, cutting a bit of my hair, some tears, a bit of my blood, a bit of dragon's blood from the witch shop down the road (I have no idea what it actually was) and a bit of mum's chardonnay all in a little bottle. Abracadabra, I got back on track. Turns out witchcraft really works or I just have good willpower. Now my rituals are more in a response to wanting to look after myself and live a good life. Each morning I walk the dog along the ocean and watch the sun rise and meditate and have a cup of lemon and ginger tea. I love to end my day in the kitchen with my husband chatting with wine but I'm trying to give the wine part the flick.
The Bowery Hotel NY
Favourite podcast or book of late?
I just finished reading the Agnes Martin Biography 'Her life and Art' by Nancy Princenthal. She was a force. I then proceeded to do the pilgrimage to the town she spent most of her adult life in Taos, New Mexico. They say her hippy friends and the director of the Harwood Gallery buried her ashes in the gallery grounds illegally at the gallery, peaches fruit from the tree each year where her ashes lay. The poet John O'Donohue interview on the 'Being' podcast is so beautiful. I listened to it about six months ago and it still lingers.
What are you excited about in the future?
So many things, we have a saying in our house, 'let's just keep having fun'. My partner and I are both artists and we are merging our studio and home into one gigantic space which will be pretty life changing for the whole family. I am excited to dedicate more time making more sculpture outside in the bush and I am also excited to get stuck into a film a friend and I are working on.
With Rothko at The MET
You have just been on an incredible adventure - do a couple of highlights pop into your mind?
I have just been traveling in America. The things that stand out are surprisingly simple. Visiting Dia Beacon on the Hudson River, an incredible art institution with major installations throughout. Walking the streets of Manhattan. Doing the Agnes Martin and Georgia O'Keeffe pilgrimage in New Mexico. The Cy Twombly show at Gagosian gallery in Los Angeles.
I'm sure you have had many but is there one pinch yourself moment that springs to mind?
To be honest I pinch myself often that I got to marry someone I totally adore. We have been married for 14 years and we have so much fun together!
The Bowery Hotel NY
Do you believe art can take people into the 4th dimension?
Absolutely - I think that’s what awe is. I think that's why art has always been important in communities and always will be, because just life alone is too much to bare. Like Winston Churchill said when asked to cut arts funding in favour of the war effort, he replied ‘then what are we fighting for?’
NY with Hester