HOUSE OF THEODORA CHATS TO AURORA CAMPBELL
Aurora Campbell is a Melbourne based artist. Her work focuses heavily on female sexuality and explores themes of sex, gender, body image, relationships and emotional fragility.
WHAT 3 WORDS BEST DESCRIBE YOUR ART?
Feminine, bold, playful
How did you get started?
It started out drawing dicks in maths class, which evolved into really demented cartoons about my teachers. Somewhere along the way drawing became more and more serious and personal to me, and less than just a way to get a laugh out of my mates and survive the hell that is high school. I never thought it could really go anywhere, but not making work just seems impossible to me. I enrolled in a tafe course when I moved cities which I loved, and after a long history of university rejection letters, I finally got in and got a degree in drawing. I always thought that I would just have to get a nice normal job and all this drawing business would be a juvenile memory, but I never grew up and just continued drawing dicks.
WhAT INSPIRES YOUR WORK?
At the moment its pretty heavy on female empowerment, giving a voice to women and reclaiming female sexuality. It's mostly drawn from conversations with friends, and photos-I like to make work about women, told by women, and sharing their perspective- I draw a lot of inspiration from conversations with friends about many themes- not always erotic but there is a lot of human fragility and vulnerability present throughout my images.
YOU TEND TO WORK A LOT IN BLACK AND WHITE, DO YOU PREFER THIS OVER COLOUR?
I love colour! For some reason I have not gotten bored of working in black and white ink yet- I don't feel done exploring it. My older works are all quite vibrant, but somewhere along the way I naturally started to hone in my style a little bit. I also think that the black and white does work well with the themes- they are pretty raw and confronting at times, and the contrast of the fine line makes it all look a bit cleaner and more palatable.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE PEOPLE TAKE FROM YOUR AR?
I think its impossible to control what reaction artwork invokes for people, because everyone processes things differently, but I think it's really cool that it sexually arouses some people; like for lines on paper to elicit such a strong response very cool. I don't really mind whether or not people love it or are offended by it, because any reaction is a good reaction when it comes to artwork; it forces people to ask themselves questions and hopefully delve a little bit deeper then the protection of 'i just hate it', or 'i just like it'. Humour is a pretty big part of my work, so I suppose my biggest intention is to lighten the topic of sex and intimacy with a bit of a giggle.
What has been your experience of being a female in the erotic, sensual & intimate art space?
I find it incredibly liberating, especially personally. My favourite part is how much its allowed me to connect with other femmes through my work; people open up, share stories, experiences, photos and artworks. Sometimes you don't get taken seriously, but thats part of being a creative; people will try to make you feel illegitimate. At uni two of my lecturers gave me a really hard time. They really discouraged me from doing what I was doing- my work got labelled as offensive and juvenile. I was told that if I didn't 'grow up' and start taking things 'seriously' I would never go anywhere artistically. It was blatant sexism; those conversations were incredibly belittling and condescending and to designed to shatter my confidence- I have a very hard time believing those lecturers would have spoken to me like that if I had a dick.
What are your bIGGEST CHALLENGES IN PRODUCING EROTIC ART IN THE social media age?
Community guidelines and censorship. You are always at risk of being reported/deleted etc which is pretty shit when social media is most artists biggest business tool. Theres also the element of being a personality tied to your work-the lines get blurred between you as an artist and you as a person, which leads to pretty strong assumptions. I often get a lot of seedy or degrading messages and unsolicited dick pics, which is obviously driven from an idea about me based on the work I make.
What DOES YOUR FAMILY & FRIENDS THINK OF YOUR WORK?
I have a very cool family. It's so easy that its not this thing I have to keep a secret or hide. They are open minded people, so they fully embrace it. Infact they all bought work from me at my exhibition. Friends are the same- if anything my work acts as a buffer for me; it attracts like minded people who are cool with it and I therefore find myself surrounded by positive and supportive and open minded people.
You run life drawing classes with Celeste Mountjoy - another female featured in our directory - what sparked this idea??
Yes! the owner of a bar we frequent, Kent street, told us he had a big space upstairs, and said we could basically have free reign on the space if we wanted to do something valuable and artistic with it. Life drawing was the obvious outcome, we both are figurative artists and it is just such a nice, meditative and relaxing way to connect and spend time with new people.
What are you currently working on?
I just finished designing a few naughty christmas cards. I haven't got anything massive on the go but I am planning a set of fun Valentines Day cards for february. Aside from that I just continue to chip away at work in my sketchbook daily.