Alice Oehr: Freshly Wrapped

Above, right and below: images from Alice Oehr’s ‘Freshly  wrapped’.

Artist Alice Oehr discusses her new show at Lamington Drive. 

Imprint: What is the premise for this exhibition and how have you been working towards it?

AO: The theme of this show was born from me observing, week after week, the striking visual impact that occurs when you add bright plastic packaging to a natural item like a piece of fruit. I love this contrast of the natural with the highly unnatural—melon peel, citrus skin, fluoro foam, stickers, etc. The pieces in the exhibition are a collection of fruit and vegetables in which I found this contrast of natural patterns and forms with unnatural additions to be particularly obvious. The result is very bright and hopefully quite over-stimulating—exactly how I find it when I go to the market.

Imprint: What are some of the foundation ideas for the work in the exhibition, and what are visitors likely to experience?

AO: I guess my main intention in creating this work was to comment on the way we consume our produce in the city, how far removed it is from the way nature intended it. It’s a tough position as a graphic designer, because while all the unnecessary plastic horrifies me from an environmental perspective, the wealth of visuals associated with fruit stickers, brightly coloured netting and the packaging in general looks quite fabulous, and I can’t help but love it, too. The work certainly expresses my love for the way these things look; but what it doesn’t say is how I feel about the wider impact of these things on the world. I’m a person who always brings my own bags to the market!

Imprint: How was the work developed technically and what were some of the challenges involved?

AO: I worked from real references—and hundreds of photos that resulted from me obsessing over this theme for at least three years.

I was determined to silkscreen the pieces as I consider it to be the most beautiful medium perhaps of all time, for my taste—I am a designer rather than a fine artist after all. This was challenging as I am not a hugely precise person and hand-pulled screenprints require a lot of neatness and precision. Luckily, I met a master printer who gave me a wonderful internship of sorts with him—so I was able to achieve the finish I was after with very limited print wastage.

Imprint: What future projects are you working on? 

More silkscreens! And a new book on a subject that’s not about food.

Freshly Wrapped is at Lamington Drive, 52 Budd Street, Collingwood, until 17 March.