# ForTheLoveOfArt Series: Interview with The Artists of Criss Cross
When it comes to art, sometimes the space becomes the inspiration for creation. This was the case especially at Ovolo Woolloomooloo. To call the space unique is an understatement. Between the heritage listing, one-of-kind address, and collection of the best Aussie art around, the place has more going on than a Friday night on Oxford St!
If art defines the space, then the hotel’s floor to ceiling mural “Criss Cross” shows just what the future holds for the famed building. Commissioned by Ovolo, artists Kate Vassallo and James Lieutenant hand painted their unique brand of geometric art in an area where all guests could see, creating an eye-popping piece with a great deal of detail behind it.
In our next edition of #ForTheLoveOfArt, we chat with the artists and find out more about piece, how the hotel inspired them, and where their future lies….
Where Did the Inspiration for the Artwork Come From?
It was really the physical space of Ovolo Woolloomooloo itself. The historic building has so many interesting features to respond to. The beams, light, corners, exposed pipes and odd shape were all considerations in planning this painting. It truly was a site-responsive piece.
How Do You See the Project Blend Into its Surrounding Space?
We approached this project as both concealing and exposing selected spatial features, as happens when you cover something with a pattern.
Connecting various corners, pipes, beams and spatial quirks with lines was the starting point in making the artwork. This network of lines became the coloured shapes you see.
It took a long time getting the lines ‘just right’. We wanted to interact with the pattern of the roof beams. The scale of the shapes also had to work from all possible vantage points of hotel guests.
It was really important for us to respect the building and its historic weight. We didn’t want this painting to look or feel out of place. While working here, we even found out that Kate’s Grandad worked as a labourer in this very building. Having that personal connection to the site gave us extra impetus to respect the space we were in.
What’s the General Reaction Been to the Artwork?
Really positive! At first people, don’t realise that it’s a hand painted artwork. It’s when you get up close and see the brush marks that people realise ‘wow, someone painted this’ and I think they’re pretty awe-inspired.
Is This Your Most Ambitious Project Yet? If so, What Made it So Challenging?
Absolutely! We’ve worked on a couple of projects that have taken as long or longer to install, but the sheer size of this artwork was a real challenge. We really had to push ourselves both in design and physical labour to make the artwork successful.
How Did You Come About to Getting Commissioned for the Piece?
Artbank, who were working with Ovolo on the overall art in the hotel, suggested our name. From what we learned, this was proving to be a tricky space to find an artwork that was a good fit. A few artists put forward proposals and our artwork was selected from that bunch.
How Long Did it Take to Produce?
We painted Level 5 first, which took about 2 weeks of solid painting day and night. We came back to paint Level 4 a month or so later, which took about 8 days. It was a huge amount of work for two people to complete, but that laborious process and collaborative making by the two of us really became part of the artwork.
Kate has a solo exhibition of drawings later in 2016 at MOP Projects (Chippendale, Sydney) and James is working on new screen-prints and paintings for a solo exhibition in early 2017 at Megalo Print Studio (Kingston, Canberra). We’re traveling a lot this year, which is really exciting and always leads to new inspiration for our collaborative artworks.
You can stay in the loop by following the dynamic duo on:
Instagram @kate.vassallo / @james_lieutenant
Twitter @katevassallo / @jlieutenant
or checking their website http://www.jameslieutenantkatevassallo.com/
See their work in the motion at the video below:
Amadou is an American-raised, Hong Kong-based writer, communicator, and all-around lover of travel & food. He speaks four foreign languages and loves recommending new and exciting things to people whenever they go somewhere new. When not managing his day job, you’ll probably find him at a happy hour or at the park with his Maltese Terrier, Maxx.