AIR Interview: Vien Le Wood

Vien Le Wood, one of our AIR Cycle 8 residents, has been experimenting with unexpected materials to create intricate and multi-layered work. Combining her past as an embellishment designer and her love of exploring new techniques, has brought her to working with human hair as a medium. Her work is not a sacred space, but community based with contributions from people and their hair. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Vien to talk about the evolution of her practice and her visions of the future.

IMG_6392On her creative background:

“My earliest memory of creating art and falling in love with color takes me back to when I was 4 years old in school painting fireworks. I would use white crayons to mix over colors to create movement and shades. I also had an obsession with owls eyes which I would draw lots of little lines around to create lashes and feathers. I’ve realized that detail and repetition was my meditative flow state early on.”

“I had an active and creative upbringing so I rarely watched television growing up. Monday it was tap dancing, Tuesday ballet, Wednesday piano, Thursday art club, Friday swimming. The weekends would be spent gardening on my rockery patch or playing in my tree house. I was always making whether it was through art, music or movement.”

“My mum taught me to knit and embroider and my father became a garden designer after years in a managerial office role. I would chat with my grandma for hours about knitting and crafts. They fully supported me in my artistic endeavors.”


On a normal work day:

“My work day is varied and I’ll often be juggling lots of projects at once. Last year I founded Gold Spink Studio, an embellishment concept house. As a ‘one woman band’ I will be researching, sketching, designing, coloring, choosing materials, making appointments, marketing, archiving, selling, invoicing and accounting. I also consult and freelance for fashion brands and teach various embellishment workshops. I like variety, different environments, moving around and being autonomous of my schedule. Because my day is full and labor intensive, I find balance by ending the day doing yoga to stretch and restore.”

“I am conscious about keeping a clean, tidy area because my work involves a lot of objects, it can get disorganized and out of control. Good natural light is important too. I love working with creative people to bounce ideas, make contacts and collaborate so being immersed in the community at TAC has been ideal.”

Vien studio 4-13

On community and TAC:

“Currently my work is not a sacred space, it’s community based with contributions from people’s hair so that they become a personal part of the art. I would like to push hair art further by creating wearables that could be used for performance art and film to tell a story. As an interdisciplinary artist and designer, I hope to navigate the intersections of fashion, sculpture, installation and performance.”

“I’ve loved working at TAC and being part of the supportive community there. Having the opportunity to try out different techniques and encouragement to explore has been an immensely fulfilling experience. It’s been a steep learning curve. I’ve learnt to manage a hybrid career to support myself whilst also carving time and confidence to follow my artistic dreams.”


On her work:

“When I’m creating it starts as an image in my head, but while I’m making it inevitably changes and becomes an organic process where one idea or technique will lead to the next. I’m attracted to detail so my work is intricate and multi layered. I like to use unexpected materials and multiple techniques to create innovative textiles. My work is intimately crafted, stitch by stitch, piece by piece, layer by layer; embracing the duality of finely crafted precision and an organic flow that is constantly transforming the evolution of my creations. There’s nothing more satisfying to me than laying out a blank canvas and the ritual of selecting my objects to encrust and alchemize with my hands. I am constantly manipulating color, texture and form to innovate new techniques into my designs.”

“Transformation is a theme in my work so I’m oxidizing iron and copper against naturally dyed yarns to create changes of color. I would also like to experiment with color changing hair dye. I like the contrast of organic and natural juxtaposed against industrial and modern. I’ve also been experimenting with growing crystals, going back to it’s original organic form. It’s a process that’s out of my control in contrast to my embellishment work which has a meticulous precision.”


On her influences:

“I recently saw Faig Ahmed’s rugs at Volta and was struck by his pixelated distortion of rugs and the tension between traditional and modern. I love Nick Cave for his whimsical fabric sculptures and performance art. I am also drawn to Marilyn Minter’s film images of color and textural movements.”

On a dream project:

“I would like to work between the visual and performing arts through a wide range of mediums including sculpture, installation, video, sound and performance. I t would be fun to create some kind of embellished transforming grotto at Burning Man. A fully immersive and interactive experience, surrounded by music and performances.”


Photos by Sam Crow

Check out the video below to see Vien in action!

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