Artist Profile - - CONTENTS - Alana Collins

I STARTED WORK­ING WITH LINE BY ac­ci­dent. Dur­ing art school I be­gan mak­ing ab­stract pieces with graphite pen­cils. I wanted to ex­per­i­ment with pen­cil and see what it was ca­pa­ble of. I rarely planned a draw­ing, rather I would just let it un­fold un­til a form started to emerge.

Some of my first draw­ings to come out of this process were very con­nected to trees. They re­sem­bled tree roots, bark or growth lines. As a re­sult, I be­came more in­ter­ested in how line man­i­fests in na­ture, es­pe­cially repet­i­tive line – such as that which is seen in fungi, gem­stones, wood­grains and rock for­ma­tions.

Around this same time, I at­tended a 10-day Vi­pas­sana med­i­ta­tion course, which im­pacted my life and art sig­nif­i­cantly. I ex­pe­ri­enced greater lev­els of pa­tience and fo­cus as well as a height­ened sense of aware­ness. The over­all im­prove­ment in my lev­els of peace and hap­pi­ness was pal­pa­ble. It fol­lowed that I wanted my art prac­tice to be med­i­ta­tive in na­ture, and I wanted to bring peo­ple in touch with height­ened states of aware­ness through art. So I started mak­ing draw­ings that were very de­tailed but also very sub­tle. To see the draw­ing in its full de­tail, you would need to look closely.

My prac­tice is rooted in pa­tience, con­cen­tra­tion and rep­e­ti­tion. Like med­i­ta­tion it can also be phys­i­cally de­mand­ing – I can only sit for an hour or so be­fore parts of my body be­come strained. Usu­ally I won’t draw for more than an hour per day and it has to be dur­ing day­light as this gives the best light for cre­at­ing de­tail. A draw­ing with a to­tal labour time of six to seven hours will end up tak­ing a week to com­plete.

I don’t al­ways suc­ceed. Quite of­ten, I will spend days on a piece and then re­alise that some­thing about it isn’t quite work­ing, or that I’ve made some kind of mis­take. So I will put that aside and start again. Even though what I’m do­ing re­quires a lot of con­trol, it can be un­pre­dictable as well. The shapes form or­gan­i­cally and I don’t al­ways know where they’ll end up. Some­times I feel like I am go­ing nowhere.

I take in­spi­ra­tion from or­ganic pro­cesses as they are of­ten un­pre­dictable and slow. My re­cent draw­ings are in­spired by agates. I am fas­ci­nated by them be­cause of their psy­che­delic band­ing and the way they are formed. Agates are cre­ated in lay­ers as cav­i­ties in rock are filled, and each is unique to the shape of the original cav­ity. The pat­terns are com­pletely in­ter­nal and I like the idea that they are born from empti­ness.

Ul­ti­mately my art is about con­nec­tion with na­ture. I’m in­ter­ested in how line tells sto­ries of growth and age. Tech­nol­ogy has in­creased the pace of our lives so much that we have trou­ble re­lat­ing to slower sys­tems. In his book, Lis­ten­ing to the Land: Con­ver­sa­tions about Na­ture, Cul­ture and Eros, Jerry Man­der said, “To re­ally tune in to na­ture re­quires great slow­ness and calm.”

This is im­por­tant be­cause we need to live har­mo­niously in this world, and un­der­stand that an­cient land­scapes and life forms have value. If we can’t re­late to the rest of the liv­ing world, then it be­comes easy for us to de­stroy it. Hope­fully my art slows peo­ple down a lit­tle.


‘Dust’, 8-31 March 2018 Moonah Arts Cen­tre, Ho­bart, Tas.


01 You move me, 2017, graphite on pa­per, 21 x 29.7cm

Cour­tesy the artist and Si­mon Old­ing


02 Di­a­mond in the rough, graphite and pig­ment on pa­per, 21 x 29.7cm

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