Australian up-and-comer Melissa Haslam visits Los Angeles for her latest exhibition “Wild Fields” at LeBasse Projects opening this Saturday, May 9th, in the gallery’s project room. Her interesting use of independent girls and hauntingly beautiful botanic backdrops has caused quite a buzz with fans and collectors. Haslam’s been busy prepping for the opening, but made some time for a quick interview with AM.

Read the interview and see a preview of the show after the jump…

Arrested Motion (AM): This is your first duo exhibition and first time at an opening showcasing your work. What emotions are you feeling?

Melissa Haslam (MH): It’s the first time I’ve been able to attend a show I’m in so I’m pretty excited about that. It will be really interesting to be able to get some feedback on my work. A little nervous too since it’s something I haven’t had much experience with.

AM: You’re actually in Los Angeles right now, how do you like it here? Have you ever been here? Any plans to travel after your show?

MH: This is my first time in LA. I love big cities, but I haven’t had the chance to see much of it yet. I can’t wait to get out and do some sightseeing. I might go to San Francisco after the show but am not yet sure.

AM: How did you come to be a full time artist? We heard that you studied Multimedia Technology and worked at a software company. What was it like in the working world? Do you miss it?

MH: I really enjoyed the job that I had. I was at the company for five years full-time making graphics and educational multimedia. After awhile I found that the only way to move forward in my career was to move into management-type roles. I wasn’t excited by managing projects and found I was more interested in taking my image-making skills further and working on my own ideas, so becoming an artist seemed like the natural way to move forward. I don’t miss it, but I’m glad that I did it because it makes me really appreciate what I am doing now and it provided me with a good foundation of professional working skills.

AM: You seem fascinated with plants and girls as these two subjects seem to pop up a lot in your works. Any particular reason or inspiration for that? Is it true that you try to incorporate flowers/plants from your homeland of Australia? What other subjects have you been thinking about trying out in the future?

MH: It’s an instinctive thing, but I paint females because I am one and it is what I relate to the most. It’s an entry point for me into the world that is being painted, or the mood that is being portrayed. The plants interest me for many reasons, firstly for their aesthetics. Aesthetics are very important to me and so they are important to my work. It’s so common for humans to find plants and flowers beautiful that there must be something in our biology that makes it so – nature rather than nurture. I have been reading some books on botanical illustration and the stories of botanists risking their lives to discover new, exotic plants to draw or take back to their homeland and the status associated with these finds. It’s a romantic view of the world.

I’ve noticed many artists draw from their cultures and things around them. I like that because it makes the work more about the person who created it rather than relying on common cliches, so I’ve been thinking about how I can do that with my own work. I’ve been looking more into Australian flora and fauna, but also things that exist in Australia that have been brought over from other cultures.

AM: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. We look forward to attending the show this Saturday.

Discuss this show here.
Discuss Melissa Haslam here.