Art possesses a unique ability to transport us to various times, places, and emotions. Rossanne Pellegrino, a mixed media artist based in St. Leonards-on-Sea, UK, is a master of this art form. With a rich background and a diverse array of influences, she intertwines found imagery, textiles, embroidery, and more to craft captivating works that explore themes of memory, place, and identity. In this exclusive interview, we chat with talented artist to understand her journey, inspirations, and artistic process.
How would you describe what you do?
I am a UK-based, Australian-born mixed media artist who explores themes of memory, place and identity. All through the lens of a female who grew up in 1980s suburban Australia, raised with a mix of cultures - my mother's and father’s families immigrated to Australia from Scotland and Italy - and who is now a mother to one daughter.
What inspires the themes and subjects in your artwork or curatorial projects?
I think growing up in a family whose origins were elsewhere has influenced my work. Collecting memories like family photographs, keepsakes or holiday trinkets were all treasured documents of a new life. Storytelling and humour were important too. I also remember my grandmothers and my mum making - sewing, dressmaking, knitting, embroidering and more. A lot of this has trickled down and has found its way into my artwork. Such as my use of old photos and pre-loved objects that bear the mark of those who owned them before. And choosing to explore themes of memory, identity and place.
After having my daughter in 2016, I began incorporating embroidery on photography in my work. This was an important stage in my creative practice as I began making the work I wanted to make, using skills that are not always embraced by the fine art world, such as embroidery and sewing.What resulted was a deeper exploration into the notion of 'women's work' by using techniques such as sewing, cross-stitch and embroidery, with collage, found imagery and pre-loved objects on textiles. I have since created work using these skills and materials to investigate themes of domesticity, motherhood, identity and the importance of play, in my work.
Is there a particular message you hope to convey through your work?
In exploring the subjects that I do - such as identity, domesticity, motherhood and tradition - l hope this sparks conversations with audiences. Or that people can relate to the work, even if their circumstances are different.
By incorporating skills in some of my work that have traditionally been considered 'women's work' and have not always been embraced by the fine art world, I also hope I am helping to burst that bubble of an old way of thinking. My future work will embrace more of these techniques.I also hope I am conveying the message that there is room for everyone and that I, and you, can take up space in the art world.
What challenges have you encountered as an artist or creative entrepreneur so far, and how did you overcome them?
The challenges can come in ebbs and flows. One week it might be a bit of niggling self-doubt. The next week that doesn't matter so much and wondering how you will get all the work done is at the top of the challenges list. In terms of overcoming these, taking a step back to remind yourself what you have accomplished always helps. Talking to other artists helps too as being an artist can mean you are often spending a lot of time alone. Having a support network and being organised (as much as possible), whilst also prioritising, are also helpful. Above all, just keeping at it is sometimes all that you need to remind yourself to do. Keep making, keep applying, and keep staying curious and learning.
What do you consider the most rewarding aspect of being a creative?
If you are a creative person, sometimes you forget the rewarding parts because being creative is just part of who you are. Being able to think in the ways we do - even if we aren't applying this to our art but to everyday scenarios - and knowing just how powerful a tool our imagination is are hugely rewarding aspects of being creative.
What motivated you to pursue an art career?
That feeling you get whilst you're not working in a creative job but knowing you are a creative through and through, was what motivated me to pursue an art career.
What were the highlights or most valuable insights you gained from participating in "Your Own Art Show" by Gita Joshi and Ekaterina Popova?
The supportive environment Kat and Gita created was a highlight. That level of support that you were invited to call upon if you needed, was always apparent. Lots of valuable tips and tools were given. Also thinking of your art show as not just being a certain way or following one formula was another highlight.Or that you don't only get one shot at doing this - this show is one of many shows you will have. Having that time and space to consider different elements of Your Own Art Show was important.