I'm standing in Ilia's kitchen, slouching over the kitchen bench as she makes me a cup of tea. I glance at the gigantic fruit bowl near the window, which supplies every common fruit imaginable. "We're a fruit house", she proclaims, "we eat a lot of fruit!".
Ilia at home
Recent works in Ilia's exhibition at Y3K have dealt with the organic and the natural, using materials such as fruit and vegetables. Her work, Brand new, a potato covered in fruit stickers, is an interesting exploration of notions of identity. She calls the conception of this work a "happy accident". She would bring a piece of fruit into class everyday, and with each fruit she'd collect the sticker. It thus became a "beautiful collection and I'd collect more and more stickers". Ilia decided to stick them all onto the potato, giving it a new identity, a multiplicity of generic labels which simultaneously recreated it. "It is everything and nothing at the same time", she explains.
Brand new, various fruit stickers, potato, 2009
Born in Geelong, and spending her childhood in Kuala Lumpur, Ilia's mixed upbringing is often reflected in notions of duality in her work, combinations of old and new, of formal and informal. She works with recycled materials far from the traditional artist's tools, giving them a second life. These objects are used to create monumental pieces, such as Play house, which was showcased at Bus Projects last month. Play house consists of a wooden door, a blow-up globe and a gym ball, balanced and integrated to create a massive sculpture. "I like dealing with things at hand", she says. "I like to operate with things as I go; it's a more fluid approach and this tends to be the most fun. I don't want to always try to justify materials and ideas beforehand because this makes it too academic."
Her most recent exhibition at Y3K utilises organic materials rather than recyclables. Ilia claims that organic materials are honest, "you drop them, they bruise, they smell nice when ripe, when they rot they're ready to throw out". In Time and a half, she divides a lime then pieces it back together using gaffa tape. By joining the segments in a slightly off kilter manner she is "disrupting their flow", and overtime the lime begins to look like a rotting lemon, and in a way becomes whole once again.
Time and a half, lime, gaffa tape, 2010
As I drink my cup of tea, I can't help but imagine the kind of art that will be constructed from the fruit in the communal fruit bowl. On the windowsill I see oddly shaped potatoes covered in plaster. "My housemates are getting used to me drawing on food and covering objects with feathers or plaster", she says. "No one has told me off, just yet!".