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Alumni in the ANU Art Collection: Lani Shea-An

Alumni in the ANU Art Collection series

The Art Collection fills an important role of enriching the creative, cultural and intellectual lives of students and staff on the ANU campus. First established in 1949, it comprises over 2900 paintings, drawings, sculptures, limited editions prints and photographs, ceramics and glass objects by significant artists.

Alumni students and staff from the ANU School of Art and Design (previously Canberra School of Art and ANU School of Art) are numerously represented in the collection through purchases, generous donations by artists and patrons and through the School of Art and Design’s Emerging Artists Support Scheme. In this series of posts we introduce a selection of alumni artists and their works in the collection, and give a brief insight into their lives and art practices.

Lani Shea-An graduated from the ANU School of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) in 2019. Works from her graduating exhibition Hostel window, dappled light and foamy mountain and Layered painting with two figures, were acquired by the ANU Drill Hall Gallery for ANU Art Collection through the Emerging Artists Support Scheme

We invited Lani to provide some insight into her works in the collection, her experience of studying at the ANU and a little about her creative life since graduating:

Lani Shea An, Layered painting with two figures, 2019. Oil, acrylic and cardboard on wood, 400 x 200 x 40mm. Photo: David Paterson

These two paintings (Hostel window, dappled light and foamy mountain and Layered painting with two figures) belong to a series of work about the idea of atmosphere; atmosphere of physical places and mental spaces, and where these might overlap. Atmosphere was the main concern of my Honours project at the ANU School of Art & Design in 2019. My approach to the concept was largely inspired by a lecture-turned-book titled Atmospheres by Peter Zumthor, which led to my curiosity about how built environments affect us emotionally.

Several works, including these, reference places I visited during a semester studying in Kyoto in 2017-18. What I remember most about these places is how a space – such as a garden – would be framed by another structure, with different views from different angles. To describe this experience in painting, I created spatial hierarchies using elements of both abstraction and representation to frame and delineate areas of the composition.

I spent four years (2016-2019) studying painting at the ANU, apart from one semester abroad in Kyoto, Japan. The School of Art was a place where I felt at home – particularly in my 3rd and 4th year studio spaces or when wandering around the painting workshop. I still feel connected to the university through the lecturers and peers whom I often run into at openings or via social media. Additionally, I have benefited greatly from the school’s Emerging Artist Support Scheme, where over the last two years I was lucky enough to be awarded two solo exhibitions (as well as these paintings being acquired by the Drill Hall Gallery), one of which I am currently working towards.

I currently work from my home studio space in South Canberra. Repurposed materials continue to form a significant part of my practice, due to their formal qualities as well as a method of reducing waste and consumption. At the moment I am working towards an EASS solo exhibition at Manolo’s on Botany in Philip, which was originally planned for early 2020. The show has unfortunately been postponed due to COVID-19 but will go ahead when safe to do so.

The Drill Hall Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples, the traditional custodians of the Canberra region, and recognises their continuous connection to culture, community and Country.