L.A. Postcard: video installation artist Bonnie Lane
In our guest post series, we invite alumni, staff and current students to reflect on their time with the VCA. This week video installation artist Bonnie Lane reflects on her time with the Art School.
Bonnie Lane is a video installation artist from Melbourne. She completed a Bachelor of Fine Art at Victorian College of the Arts (2007) and first-class Honours from Monash University (2010). Over the last year, Bonnie has undertaken a series of international residencies including: The Vermont Studio Center (VT), Starry Night Artist Retreat (NM), Birch Creek (UT), RAID Projects (CA), and Nanji Art Studio (Seoul). She is the recipient of grants, awards and scholarships including the Freedman Foundation Traveling Scholarship (NAVA), the Australia Council for the Arts – ArtStart grant, New Work Grant and JUMP Mentorship grant, and the City of Melbourne – Young Artist Grant.
She presented her first solo exhibition in New York entitled Sleepless at Art Currents Institute in May 2012. Bonnie has exhibited locally, nationally and internationally in public, commercial, and artist run galleries, art fairs and non-traditional sites. Highlights of her exhibition history include Make Believe at Anna Pappas Gallery including a selection of works at the Melbourne Art Fair (2012), Present Memory at Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts, as part of the acclaimed Innovators Program, Into the Dark (2011) a solo exhibition in Melbourne, spanning each of BUS Projects’ five exhibition spaces, L113 degrees & L23 degrees, Curated by Wu Yaqing, You You Gallery, Guangzhou, China (2011), Interiors, Curated by Simon Gregg, Anna Pappas Gallery, Melbourne (2009), the screening of An Ordinary Grind at the Institute of American Indian Arts as part of Currents 2011: The Santa Fe International New Media Festival, and NEXT Art Fair, Chicago USA (2009). She is represented by Anna Pappas Gallery.
I started my Bachelor of Fine Art straight out of high school in 2005. I had been dreaming of going to art school for years and the VCA was my top choice. I had been warned that I should be thinking about going to TAFE first but I desperately wanted the creative freedom I saw available at the VCA.
From my very first day I knew I had found my place, the VCA became a second home to me and my peers and teachers became like family. I thrived off the creative energy and enjoyed the opportunities to show so many people my artworks and be inspired by others. The painting department really threw you in the deep end, we were given a studio and aside from theory classes and electives we basically had everyday to create whatever we wanted. This is where I learnt how to be an artist and developed into the artist that I am today.
The course taught me how to be independent and most importantly how to take feedback and criticism; this was very challenging at first but one of the most important things to develop as an artist – a thick skin, because you’re going to need it. One of my favorite memories of the VCA was my very first individual tute – with Matthew Griffin, I was making some stencils of people sleeping (cringe) and he said to me “what are you doing this for?” and I interpreted this as “you should probably stop doing this”. So I went home and cried (having never really been criticised for anything artistic before), and then I realised “yeah why the hell am I doing this?” and so I stopped and did something else. It was probably the advice I never had! I still cringe at a lot of the work I made back then but it’s all part of the journey.
I developed such strong bonds with my peers that have lasted until this day, even though we seem to be spread out all over the world now. My teachers were some of the most interesting people I have ever met and taught me about all aspects of art and what it means to be an artist, the realities of what the future may hold. I remember in a professional practice class we were told there might be times when we find ourselves penniless, lying on a hotel room floor with a bottle of whiskey thinking “what the hell am I doing with my life?” But seriously we were warned about the harsh realities of living as an artist and how to deal with these, I think it is very valuable to be aware before heading out into the big wide world.
Since leaving the VCA I was pumped to get my work out there and begin my professional career, so I started showing at artist run spaces throughout Melbourne. I then moved to Berlin for a year and came back to Melbourne in 2010 to undertake my Honours at Monash University. I am currently undertaking projects in Los Angeles, a city that constantly fascinates and intrigues me. I am represented by Anna Pappas Gallery in Melbourne and have undertaken seven international artist residencies in Europe, Asia and the USA.
I have recently taken on very large projects with the help of numerous grants and scholarships. My persistence and determination was always encouraged during my BFA and I have continued to have strong relationships and heaps of support from the painting department staff. This has been a huge contributor in to my confidence as an artist and recent successes.
I could not be more grateful for my wonderful time at VCA and for all the fabulous memories!
A version of this article originally appeared on Channel, the Faculty’s previous publishing platform.