Artist of the Month May 2018
Waltraud Posposchil is our Artist of the Month for May 2018. Waltraud is a writer and painter and will also be presenting her work at the European Outsider Art Conference 2018 hosted at Pallant House Gallery, UK. She will give a short presentation about her poetry and paintings. Here we hear more about Waltraud's work and inspirations.
When and how did your interest in art develop?
When I was a little girl making useful and beautiful things for the home and family, I mean crafts and decorations, was very important. We were poor, lived in a big, old house in the countryside in Austria (my parents were WW2 refugees and my dad's better off sister in America (NY) had given him the money to buy the house) - and near everything had to get 'created' or manufactured in some sense. I loved painting off cause as well, but remember that I felt rather uptight if I had real art materials, because my parents thought they were expensive, just had to be bought at the beginning of the school year, and not get wasted. I watched "Wer zeichnet mit?" on TV (an art program for children/young people) and had to beg my mum to buy a stamp and send my painting there. I won and my painting was shown on TV. The prize were art materials sent to me by post! At last 'my own', not having to feel guilty my parents had to buy them.
What influences your art?
Now it is all about getting things out, getting in touch with good and bad, beautiful and ugly, painful and fantastic things, thoughts, memories, impressions. It is a great way of 'communicating' and 'solving problems' - with 'solving' I mean that actually visualizing, formulating, identifying them in front of you as an artwork: it is a very dynamic way of 'getting hold of them'. I feel it’s a bit like what they say about ancient cave paintings: that by painting the animals on the cave walls, the stone age people felt they would gain more power over them. Painting things, (even if at the beginning I usually don't know how the picture will come up), makes me feel that I get in touch, get empowered, create new beginnings out of what looked like sad endings... Lots of my paintings are directly connected to poems, and I'm often switching round between writing on the poem, than 'painting the poem' and so on, until they are both there. I also made a collection "Wales is where my heart is" - with paintings of landscapes and images... I've been there so often on beautiful walks.
What process do you go through when you are creating a piece (starting with the initial idea)?
Other than poems that start manifesting in bits of lines and verses, I have also done illustrations to my stories. Then there are birth charts I painted for people, who had a strong impact on me, (I actually asked them if I could/was allowed to - paint their chart). I did an in depth study of Astrological Psychology long time ago, including Mythology and C G Jung's ideas of the collective subconscious. I feel there is a lot in 'real' astrology, and I the charts I painted also include scenery, nature, animals, symbols which are important to this person. At the moment, I do portraits. -
What really made me connect with my artistic side more was the 'revelation' I experienced over a year ago, that there are 'no mistakes'. Opposite to my worry when I was small, that I could 'mess up' expensive (in my parent's eyes) art materials, I felt that that the 'piece of paper/space' in front, started to talk back to me, if it didn't come up as I wanted it to look like... Then I had to step back and think... then continue having learned from it... I usually feel like talking to some higher, invisible forces or friends out there when I paint... maybe because I feel extremely lonely and misunderstood... but it can be a really beautiful, meditative state of being deeply connected to a magical world...
Which artists, if any, have you drawn inspiration from?
I couldn’t say that particular artists influence my paintings at the moment, but I was in my youth impressed by Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus" (what strikes me is: the magic of Venus being created, following a horror style plot, to bring love and beauty to the world, and not needing to feel ashamed about being naked), - then by Turner's paintings and Impressionism what I saw when I did art in secondary school. (It was a set subject in Austria, I didn't take it as A-level and never trained in painting).
Over the last years I looked into art and painting online much more, which can be an amazing journey of exploration for me. I was deeply taken by Ceija Stojka, an Austrian Romani writer, painter and musician, just five years younger than my mum, born not far from her, who ended up getting forcefully passed through three concentration camps as a girl, including Auschwitz, until she got rescued by the Allies. Her paintings have an immense depth, its a naïve style, depicting threatened freedom and beauty, up to that immense senseless oppression, destruction and death.
Another artist I want to mention is Frank Auerbach, who was born in Berlin to Jewish parents, who had to send him to the UK, as a seven-year-old boy in 1939, to protect him from the Nazis. His parents both died in concentration camps a few years later. His paintings are so full of expression and crude, elementary power, which appear to me as if he created them out of mess and conflict, which he shielded off through his art rather than letting it break him down. But which he also not disregarded, or cut off from his life experience.
I had to work through a lot of mess, hate, destruction, annihilation and discrimination in my life. I really believe in taking on each monster, each challenge which comes about, face it as an artist, ready to work through it, will help to interrupt, or even break down the chain reactions of negative and evil things occurring in this world.
Do you have a favourite piece (of your own work)? If so, which one and why?
It would be "Fool on the Molehill" with its poem. Both have magic, beauty, love and hope. I liked "Fool on the Hill" from the Beatles when I first heard it as a teenager. My 'fool' gets the stars to come down because they like to get tickled!
What do you hope the viewer gets from your work?
I hope they will look with their hearts as well, then smile and feel they are loved - (it was Franz Kafka's favourite author Robert Walser who said that you "can't be an artist without loving humans") - don't feel alone if things are tough, have hope and feel lifted into a magical, beautiful world.
Doesn't mean they can't be angry, aware and critical about bad things which go on, but I always want to create solutions, a better world, look after the ones who suffer and get hurt.
Your artistic style is very intriguing. Tell us a bit about where this came from.
It comes from deep inside and I do get visions of them in my mind before I try to 'realize' them. I explained bits before, like 'talking to invisible friends' or some types of angles, heroes, spirits which guide me - (don't worry, if any Psychiatrist frowns, I can tell him/her its symbolic).
I often start somehow 'decorating' bits which just came up by chance. It is like creating relationships and or almost something like a 'loving care' between the 'main image' and the 'background'. There is nothing without a space, an opening or opportunity for it to be/exist. I try to honour and thank that 'space' or 'background' and often get lost in it, while feeling really happy and positive, just painting on 'unimportant' bits of an artwork.
What has been the highlight of your artistic career?
To be Outside In artist of the month and chosen to present my art at the EOA conference, both right now in May! I have been over the moon, it really means a lot to me.
Then there was Rob a couple of years ago who I saw for free (I live in a deprived area which got funding for it) social enterprise advice, a couple of years ago. For the first time in my life I felt that someone actually believed in me, my artistic talents and ideas. It felt like the sun shining for me for the first time in my life. Almost everything I painted and wrote happened from then on, over the last two years.
How (and when) did you first hear about Outside In?
I saw Rob because I wanted to hold equality themed art workshops with disadvantaged people, then curate their work for an exhibition. The title/theme: "Breaking out of a Hall of Mirrors". The image that some people are never seen for who they really are, but just walk along as if they got stuck in a hall of distorting mirrors, had captured my mind.
So I got the chance making a mural together with visitors at a local community hall, as practice. Then someone there told me about Outside In coming to Bristol, to talk about their Alternative Visions project. I got a place and was deeply impressed by their talk and presentation. Then I arranged to see Hannah at the Holburne Museum in Bath mid June 2016...
Has being a part of Outside In been beneficial for you? If so, how?
Definitely! I feel I belong to them! I'm in touch with what they do, part of their 'community' in some sense. It was brilliant to get my own slot as artist of their online gallery. I never had something like that. Hannah had to take the first photos of my paintings. Now I ask my son, because I'm no good at taking photos, don't have a smartphone or camera. I actually don't have any real friends, which I could see or chat to, but being with Outside In makes me feel I have lots.
What is next for you as an artist?
Make the world a better place through art and writing! Never give up, capture the core of what it means to 'create'- I might find/discover something magical I could show the world, something which could get us onto a new type of path were all the suffering and destruction could get stopped. You never know...
Then that I could paint as good as Turner or Van Gogh one day... I made a couple of paintings for Rob, but he never wanted them or answered my emails anymore. OK, I hope he is all right. I'll just try to paint better...