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Boyup Brook artist Lori Pensini to feature in South West Art Now exhibition

Meet the artist: Lori Pensini said she her work was inspired by the botanicals and natural landscape of rural WA. Picture: Pip Waller
Meet the artist: Lori Pensini said she her work was inspired by the botanicals and natural landscape of rural WA. Picture: Pip Waller

Lori Pensini never thought she would have a successful career as an artist.

Born in Narrogin in 1970, she grew up on her family's farm at Yilliminning in the wheatbelt of Western Australia.

Although she spent time drawing as a child, Ms Pensini said being an artist in outback WA wasn't considered a "serious" profession.

"It just wasn't worth anything - it was that era where you needed to be a doctor or a solicitor, so I just sort of turned away from art," Ms Pensini said.

"But it was after I moved to my husband's family farm in Wyloo in the Pilbara that I got back into it - after my aunty from England was petrified that I would lose my mind with the isolation.

"She sent me a thousand pounds worth of canvas and paints and said for Christ sake, Lori just do something.

"And it just went on from there - now art is my obsession."

'Mallee': A portayal of a child, named Cousin Eloise, set in the mallee country. Picture: Supplied

'Mallee': A portayal of a child, named Cousin Eloise, set in the mallee country. Picture: Supplied

Working mainly with oils on linen canvas, Ms Pensini created her first work featuring a spinifex pigeon, which she said her aunty has hung in her English house alongside works by Australian artists Brett Whiteley and John Olsen.

She shared with the Mail how her art practice had evolved from sketching in her kitchen, to a seven-day-a-week creative practice inspired by the power of metaphor.

When you're personally invested in your art, it comes out in your story, which goes beyond the canvas."

Artist Lori Pensini

Ms Pensini's work often features imagery of the banksia, a native, Australian wildflower.

"My art has evolved into more than just what I see - but how I feel," Ms Pensini said.

"I use a lot of metaphors in my work around botanicals to help engage the viewer and create a personal experience.

"The banskia ecologically grows in poor soil but it can still flower under adverse conditions, so I've taken that metaphor and I use it when I look back at the rural women in my family and how hard they had to work in this landscape - the banksia is a strength.

"My work is about how the landscape affects not only me but everyone and how important it is for your mental and physical health."

As part of the South West Art Now exhibition currently at the Bunbury Regional Art Gallery, Ms Pensini has her work, 'We of the Wandoo' on display.

It depicts imagery of wandoo or eucalyptus, which Ms Pensini said has healing and antimicrobial properties.

'Motherland': A finalist piece in the 2022 Muswellbrook Art Award in New South Wales. Picture: Supplied

'Motherland': A finalist piece in the 2022 Muswellbrook Art Award in New South Wales. Picture: Supplied

"I met and begun mentoring Indigenous artist Gloria Lockyer at a workshop in Port Hedland last year and we just really clicked until we were sharing more than just our art ideas, but about who we are as people.

"So We of the Wandoo is around the healing properties of relationships and basically just our yarning as women, coming together and sharing our stories, lives and our shaping from past generation.

"When you're personally invested in your art, it comes out in your story, which goes beyond the canvas."

South West Art Now will be on display at the Bunbury Regional Art Gallery until May 15, where Ms Pensini will deliver an artist talk on her work.

Ms Pensini expressed hope that viewers would continue to see her work and attach their own lived experience to it.

Ms Pensini with her work 'We of the Wandoo', currently on display in the Bunbury Regional Art Gallery. Picture: Pip Waller

Ms Pensini with her work 'We of the Wandoo', currently on display in the Bunbury Regional Art Gallery. Picture: Pip Waller

"I hope they see the landscapes in my work in a different way, as something of value, rather than just a scrubby piece of land that they pass by on their way down south.

"I remember reading that the day before French painter Edgar Degas died, he put down his brush and said, I think I'm getting somewhere.

"And that was empowering to me - that you can be so inspired up until you die.

"Art to me is my language and the way I express myself.

"It's a really powerful therapy."

SWAN also includes work from Margaret River artists Elisa Markes-Young, Christopher Young, Martine Perret, Ian Dowling, Kay Gibson, Chris Williamson and Gelorup-based artists Merle Topsi Davis and Tony Davis.

Visit Lori Pensini on Instagram @loripensini.