Open to the Unexpected
Floria Tosca's work is at a formative stage; she has recently completed four years of study and is currently consolidating the experiences and influences from that period. Over that time her work has shifted from a relatively conventional use of printmedia to combining printmedia and objects, to less resolved, more challenging sculptural pieces.
A particular work from her studies at the National Art School, Sydney, stands out as evidence of her early ability to push media in new directions. This was made in two versions: blue Tsunami and red Rosa.
Tosca began with paper that had been printed with an image of ruled lines, in a variety of configurations. The prints were then folded into closed chatterboxes and pinned, in a grid formation, onto white paper.
Tosca's lack of precision in arranging the grid allowed for irregularities to appear in the work. A consequence of this strong feature is that the eye moves around the work, as if to discover something missed, with different elements becoming apparent on each viewing.
Tosca's abiding interest and strength in drawing is evident in her etchings through to her sculpture. Of particular interest is drawing from life due to its directness and immediacy in transposing subject to surface, and for making images with a variety of tools, such as pencil, paper, scribe and metal plate.
She made a number of botanical studies of different plants as etchings. For one series she sectioned a magnolia flower, expecting a soft centre, but found instead a strong geometric core. She went on to create a suite of small etchings, using a fine line to delineate the form on the plate and à la poupée for applying colour.
Discovering that the magnolia core defied her expectations, Tosca went on to draw parallels between this experience and human behaviour, and in particular our preparedness to accept physical appearance as an indicator of personality and character, despite knowing this is a false reflex.
Another series consists of a row of printed feathers. One feather in each piece is literally weighty with indecipherable black text whilst the other feathers are printed with ambiguous fragments from sectioned flowers in colour. The work explores the differences in how we interpret images compared to the written word.
The strength of her magnolia and feather series resulted in Tosca receiving the 2001 Ken Done prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement for 3rd year, National Art School, and the Australian Galleries Works on Paper Exhibition Award for Outstanding Achievement, National Art School. During the following year she was a finalist in the Silk Cut Award for linocut prints and her work, Allemande was acquired for the collection.
Tosca talks readily about the sense of freedom she enjoys when her ideas are forming, but she has learnt that discipline and critical reflection are necessary to complete work that is satisfying. While planning a recent sculptural piece, questioning from students and teachers made her realize that her first choice of media had no relevance to her intended comment on genetically modified seeds and their repercussions for plant propagation. Instead of adhering to sculptural conventions, the finished work, completed and exhibited in Canada, was modified to reflect the local built and natural environment. It consisted of a carved 1.5 x 0.6m polystyrene tulip seed covered in concrete with moss growing on its surface, and was installed under a fir tree in the city centre.
Tosca speaks about this departure from printmedia into the larger 3D scale as liberating: an opportunity to develop her technical and conceptual skills for her current work combining printmedia and objects.
Her forthcoming exhibition will be held in May 2004 at Gallery SP, Dank Street, Redfern, Sydney. She is also represented by Australian Galleries Works on Paper, Glenmore Road, Paddington.
NSW based artist and lecturer