Rhianna Phillips is a Brisbane-dwelling artist who has her finger in all manner of creative pies (not to mention the cracks of rock walls, which she scales in her free time for fun). Recently, Rhi deferred her photography degree in order to invest more time into making and creating. She sat down to chew the fat with us about her craft, the female form and the fluidity of womanhood.
Tell me a bit about yourself as a human and a creator.
I’m just doing my thing in Brisbane right now, living in a little inner-city share house. I’m trying my best to be as green as possible: making vegetarian food, gardening, buying ethically, limiting purchases etc. I’m also an avid rock climber, who loves showing everyone how muscly her arms are getting.
When it comes to my art practice, I’m very interested in experimentation. I started my art journey as a photographer, and have always been very interested in the body and self. But over the past year, I have been working with different mediums, trying out ceramics, sculpture, sewing and lots of drawing. My photographic language adapted well into my life drawing practice, and I began to explore the genre more.
I enjoy getting dirty. I enjoy immersing myself in the process of creation.
Are you a keen social observer? What do you look for?
I’m not sure. But I am interested in our relationship with the nude and the naked. How an unclothed body can allude to different themes based mainly on the artist’s gaze and their intentions of what they want it to represent. Whether it be vulnerability, sexuality, intimacy etc.
What do you daydream about?
A green planet where people are encouraged to love their forms and use them to do the fun stuff, like rock climbing.
For a long time, I didn’t identify with “womanhood” because I felt I didn’t belong to it. So I want to put it out there that being a woman and owning your own sexuality comes in many different shapes and forms.
What do you like to draw?
I have been drawing for a little over a year and only really began because it was a mandatory subject within the first year of my photography degree. We started from the ground up – experimenting with different media in great depth, drawing straight lines, learning perspective etc. Essentially relearning how to draw. When we began studio sessions working with life models, I really began to connect with the genre of drawing. Making marks came petty naturally to me; I wasn’t sure if they were any good, but I enjoyed how natural it felt. Drawing the human form, female in particular, aligned with my interests in representation, self and the body.
I like to draw women. I like to draw myself. It gives me an opportunity to rewrite a certain narrative that has been placed on me by myself and others. It also gives me the opportunity to add my voice to a much larger narrative dealing with the nude and I feel like I’m able to hopefully aid in changing and redirecting an art genre that was developed from a non-inclusive, men-dominated space.
Being able to show a female body as something other, something strange… I like that. I play with performance and masquerade. Experimentation is the biggest thing for me. When I do a drawing performance in front of a mirror or a camera I can transform into both the artist and the model. As both characters, there is a sense of intimacy.
What messages are you trying to convey in your work? What inspires you?
I feel the meaning that is conveyed in my work is mostly developed through the process of creation. It’s generally upon reflection of a finished piece or collection that the meaning appears and from there I can continue to develop the themes that have arisen. Through my work, there are motifs of the female form, especially regarding self. I’m very interested in self-representation and playing with the body as a means of representation of something larger. I’m interested in masquerade, intimacy, land, self, time, grief. I’m not sure exactly what I am trying to say, but I’m trying to speak of something larger than myself.
What mediums do you like to work with?
I like working large scale with mostly dry mediums such as charcoal, chalk and pastel; but for smaller scale drawing I use pen and sometimes ink. Recently I’ve started drawing digitally as well, using a Wacom and Photoshop set up.
Where can we find more of your stuff?