New exhibition explores the art of layering with love - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views

Photo: Supplied.

Pigments, resin, beeswax, love and fire are all the basic ingredients of Libby North’s encaustic art exhibition, ‘Made with LoVe and Beeswax’ at Redland Museum. Creating encaustic artworks – hot wax painting – is a process that involves mixing tree resin (damar) and pigments with beeswax then layering the medium onto the chosen substrate, or base – which may be timber or tiles or stone or slate, all materials that are rigid and porous. More layers are added, perhaps with the addition of found objects, and each layer is fused to the previous one with a blowtorch or heat gun.

Libby says that the flame becomes an extension of her hand and she takes a deep pleasure in the meeting of science and art.

“Quite simply, I love to create,” she says. “To get lost in a piece, if just for a few moments, there is a simple beauty in that. Creating old patinas by recycling and reusing found objects like drawings, photos, feathers, leaves, textiles; having hidden layers that invite a person to look a little deeper; building up, scraping back, scoring and shaping, revealing layers and elements that have been laid before, just as nature is built up of layers over time and decayed through time and weather. Just surrendering to the unpredictability makes this journey pure joy.”

Her choice of media itself offers a journey; the addition of resin raises the melting point of beeswax, hardens and protects it and – a bonus for the artist – imparts a higher rate of refraction to wax paint. Accidental mixes produce unexpected results.

“Everywhere I go I see colours, textures, layers and movement and it is these things that inspire you when you’re back in the studio. Nothing can compare to the memories you carry within – looking, seeing, touching, feeling, smelling, hearing – all the senses come into play and a new piece emerges, giving these intriguing and ethereal effects.

“It’s wonderful to observe gallery visitors encountering encaustic for the first time. They’ll step back and look at it then move in for a closer examination, obviously trying to figure out what it is – a tile? Glazed pottery? Is it a painting? Just watching them is wonderful.”

Encaustic isn’t a word you hear every day and like most people, Libby found the whole creative concept fascinating when she first encountered it online. About five years ago, when she was already working with mixed media, she noticed that an arts trail event – when artists open their studios to the public – included a visit to an encaustic artist’s studio. She came, she saw – she was conquered.

“I fell in love with it; the depth, the transparency, the colour, the line. There’s always something new, and you can see the difference when you’ve made a change or developed a new technique – sometimes by doing something all the research tells you not to! My approach is to just get in there and play.”

‘Made with LoVe and Beeswax’ is open to the public in the Dunn Wing Gallery of the Redland Museum, 60 Smith Street, Cleveland from 29 January to 29 February 2024. The museum is open seven days a week, including Remembrance Day, from 10:00am to 3.30pm. For more information call 3286 3494 or go to

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