Artist profile – Elizaveta Maltseva

Elizaveta Maltseva was born in Moscow in the 1980s and has recently returned to Melbourne after living in Edinburgh for some time. She studied Visual Art at Monash University and has a Masters of Arts and Cultural Management from the University of Melbourne. She has been exhibiting locally and internationally for over ten years with notable works shown at the Melbourne Fringe Festival, and 69 Smith Street and Embassy Gallery in Edinburgh.

Could you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I have just recently moved back to Melbourne after living in sunny Edinburgh for a couple of years. I really love Edinburgh, so being back in Melbourne is very bitter-sweet just now. I guess in a way I have always thought of myself as a Melbourne girl, but to be honest, I’ve lived in way too many places for that to accurately be the case.

How would you describe your art? Who does your art speak to?

My favourite way to describe my work to people that don’t come from a creative background is: “I make pictures on paper, from photos, by printmaking, and they kind of look like watercolours and old scuffed polaroids. And sometimes there are also little naïve drawings involved too”. But in a more formal setting I refer to my work as a self-developed printing practice that is a digital extension of traditional relief printmaking processes. My imagery is often non-linear and multilayered. It does not rely on pre-printing digital manipulation, but rather the hand-printing process and physical image layering that is a result of photography, printmaking and drawing combined.

I think my work speaks to audiences who have an interest in both photography and printmaking but also an attraction to both a whimsical and grungy aesthetic.

How has your work changed or evolved over the years?

think to date the biggest shift in my work has been my relationship with photography. I recall when I first started art school, I was adamant that I was a photographer and wouldn’t hear of even experimenting with other mediums. Luckily, I was forced to take a semester of printmaking and haven’t looked back! While I have always used my own photographs to print from in the past, now I am more interested in working from found images or photographs taken by the model. Through most of my practice, I have preferred to print from photographs that weren’t recently taken or purposefully taken to be printed. In a way, I almost like to print images that I have forgotten and I think this is really reflected in the aesthetic of my work.

You recently returned from Edinburgh. What sparked your decision to move there?

 I had actually visited Edinburgh for the first time in 2010 as my bestie’s plus one at a wedding. I only spent a few days there but from that trip I always knew I would go back to live there. So a couple of years ago, I finished my Masters, quit my job and threw a couple of things into a backpack.

What is the Edinburgh art scene like?

During the “normal” part of the year, there are a number of emerging (Rhubaba, The Numbers Shop), contemporary (Ingleby, The Fruitmarket), commercial (Arusha, Urbane) spaces, and of course the National Galleries of Scotland that bubble away with regular shows and events. There are also a number of festivals of various sizes and calibre from the Leith Late to the Edinburgh International Festival and different film festivals (EIFF, Scotland Loves Animation) throughout the year. However, all of this is comparatively underfunded, underappreciated and under-attended in comparison to the creative explosion that is the Edinburgh Fringe.

The Fringe truly is a magical time to be in Edinburgh! While living in Edinburgh, I was frequently asked if I was going away in August and this question would never fail to shock me. August is the month that the Fringe is on and there was (still isn’t) anywhere else in the world I’d rather be. The population of the city grows four times, every pub and cranny becomes a venue and there are events to literally satisfy any creative craving.

How has living in Edinburgh influenced or changed your process?

To be honest, I’m not really sure that living in Edinburgh has had any immediate impact on my practice. It has certainly been very inspiring and allowed me to expand my networks. It was also a really brilliant time for being very selfish and devoting as much time to my practice as I wanted, as I had a much smaller social circle and no family to devote my time to. I really enjoyed the more frequent times of solitude and the many long, dark, rainy nights to just sit and create.

In 2015 you collaborated with Tara Kathleen Stewart on an installation called Wasting Time in Conversation. Consisting of black and white monoprints, this work focused on contemporary mainstream film, exploring how film ‘subconsciously informs our individual identities’, as you say. What was the inspiration for this work?

Working with Tara on this show was a fantastic challenge, both creatively and logistically. Tara has a real gutsy punkish attitude to making and showing her work that I really love. This body of work is actually something that had been flickering in the back of my mind of a number of years and it wasn’t until I met Tara that the flame was rekindled and the show really took off.

In my own life, I had always known that there were moments from films that I quoted, as many of us do, but I had also realised there were moments that stuck in my life and have almost inspired my identity. No in a kind of way that was wanting to be the cool girl in a teen movie, but more like little bits of modern philosophy that was presented in form of a line in a feature film. These images and scenarios always stayed with me and over the years build up a nostalgic beauty that I wanted to express.

Talking to Tara about these ideas also sparked her own interests in film as inspiration and concepts surrounding teen idols so it was a perfect fit for a collaborative show.

Do you have any upcoming shows or collaborations?

I always start to feel a bit crazy and unsettled when I’m not working on a project. While I have been resettling in Melbourne, I have been on the prowl for new shows and spaces, both here and in Edinburgh.

I have submitted a couple of proposals for exhibitions in Melbourne in the second half of 2016. I want to show two particular bodies of work that I created in Scotland and think that the Melbourne audience will really connect with.

Meanwhile, Tara and I are also working on two collaborations to be exhibited in Edinburgh and the south of France.

I’m also developing a new project idea in collaboration with Going Down Swinging in Melbourne and a couple of Edinburgh galleries that will team up artists and writers across the two cities.

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