Artist: Shanti Gelmi
Painting: There is no such thing as identical II
Medium: Acrylic screen print and ink drawing
Size: 39.5cm x 29.5cm | 2021
We visited Shanti at her studio in Forrestfield to learn more about her creative process and the meaning behind There is no such thing as identical III, read below!
What’s your coffee order?
Long Macchiato, traditional.
Where can you view her work?
I do exhibit locally frequently,, which I list on my website.
Instagram is a bit less advertising, but more photos of works in progress. . I’m part of a group show in February at ECU, Spectrum Project Space called HERENOW23: In-Between-ness and that’s very much an extension of this work and about cross cultural collaboration, with some very amazing artists I feel very honored to be working with. Later in the year in August, also at ECU, Gallery 25, I’ll be doing a show with a group of ECU alumni who have all graduated in the last couple of years. My joint workspace will be having an Open Studio in April 2023. I would love people to come along to that.
Why did you choose this piece of artwork for the cup?
There are a few artworks I’ve made that I am really proud of, and this is one of them. The stark black and white image appeals to me as it’s rigid but fluid at the same time. It’s also not immediately obvious how I’ve made it and if it holds your attention for a while I’m happy.
What is the story behind this piece of art?
This is printmaking combined with drawing. I screen printed block shapes onto paper. The block shapes are the same pattern with one repeated upside down. It was clean white with the black and I’ve drawn into them, each individual triangle.
I don’t always know why when I’m making something at the beginning, but as I get further into the process the reason presents itself in what I’m thinking about when I’m creating. For this one, the thought of how we’re really bound by society, by the rules and regulations of what we’re allowed to do and how we have some space to make some decisions really came to mind. But within those decisions are also rules and processes that we need to follow that we repeat, repeat, repeat. These rules might become automatic.
For example, if you’re told “you’re ugly” or “you’re beautiful” throughout your life, you will begin to believe it and it will alter the patterns of your life to incorporate this informaton. However, everyone’s experience is different. If there are two people, living in the same setting with a similar upbringing, their thought processes can lead the two entities to two completely different lives. Two people who live in the same environment still have very different experiences.
These lines within the blocks represent our connections to other people, our environments, the rules of our society, everything. They’re so malleable, permeable, they can go and change but also rely on each other to fill the entity.
I’ve always drawn triangles and I never really knew why, maybe it’s because I’m Catholic and consider the Holy Trinity. Triangles are a strong shape, they’re beautiful yet very rigid. You put them together and they become something else. They’re so unassuming on their own but they can really build to something beautiful. I created this when I went down South and I needed to create something very quickly for a show for The Printmakers Association WA, which was coming up. I was able to take a screen, my ink, my squeegee and paper on the trip and I worked on a laundry bench top with my kids helping me hold down the screen. I cut paper stencils and printed with black ink. I probably pulled about 6 prints with this stencil, only 1 was good—this one. I then made the drawing when the ink was fully dry.
I mistakenly first thought with printmaking that you can make a lot of things very easily and very quickly. I was still learning when I made this piece. I’m much better at it now. But this screenprint was a labor of love. And I think that’s why I love it so much. I probably did 50 prints with different stencils when I was down South on this trip and only 2 of them turned out.
What appealed to you about this project?
I was super thrilled to be selected. There are certain milestones you have as an artist and one of them is to do something publicly like this, where other people will value your work.
The whole process has really focused on the artist too, on what I wanted to submit, that was really great. It wasn’t a series of questions or specific parameters. Then to have that work selected and receive that email that your work has been accepted and put into production… it was very exciting.
I had seen all of the artists in that first drop and I was really impressed. So when I submitted my work I just thought, let’s just see what happens.
Why is it important to support the arts?
For people to get involved in arts I would encourage them to join a group and attend shows and exhibitions. Don’t be embarrassed and don’t be afraid to talk to people at art events. Show up, ask questions, there’s no such thing as a silly question. It can be intimidating talking to an artist, but ask why and how they do it and know that it’s ok to not understand.
Lastly, I would like to thank Leaf Bean Machine very much. It’s a really positive project for artists. Getting art out into the hands of the public who might not otherwise see your work is a really great thing.