Elissa Jane Smolinski - Holubic

A mother’s hug in alien form

Thanks to money from a creative arts grant, University of Newcastle Bachelor of Fine Art student Elissa Jane Smolinski was able to bring her sculpture Holubic to life. The sculpture is currently on display as part of Sculpture in the Vineyards – an annual exhibition of large scale outdoor sculptures along the Wollombi Valley Wine Trail.

Standing over two metres tall, and constructed from steel, irrigation pipe, shrink plastic and latex, the sculpture could be seen as quite imposing, but Elissa Jane maintains that was never her intention. “I always wanted the sculpture to be warm and loveable. Never intimidating,” she explains.

“I wanted to create something that wasn’t inhibited by preconceived notions by looking like anything else,” Elissa Jane says. “I think in this aspect I was successful. People may not understand, but they stop and stare, saying ‘what is that?'”

Elissa Jane says she has always been interested in the creation of new life, and how we are changing and controlling it. “There are implications, sometimes mutations,” she says. “This is why I have called my sculpture Holubic – a Polish word that is often used to describe the scenario of motherhood and means to nurture, cherish or hug. An undying love and care is what a mother holds for her children – no matter what they do or what they look like, their mother will always love them.”

Elissa Jane came to the University of Newcastle as part of the TAFE/University Articulation Agreement, with an Advanced Diploma of Fine Art from Newcastle Art School opening a doorway into the third year of the University’s Bachelor of Fine Art program. Holubic also reflects Elissa Jane’s feelings on making the step from the smaller classes of TAFE to the larger University environment.

“I felt so alienated, and I think this influenced my work. I felt like the Art School was my home, and University was so different. I just wanted to talk to everyone and know what they’re doing, and what their work is about and why they are making it. I definitely felt alien to this university planet.”

Elissa Jane hopes to apply to study Honours next year, to continue exploring the concepts initiated by Holubic, and breathe even more life in her next version. “I’ve been tinkering and brain exploding trying to teach myself robotics and (electronics platform) arduinos.”

Holubic is on display from now until 1 December at Undercliff Winery at Wollombi. For more information, visit the Sculpture in the Vineyards website.

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