Lia McKnight’s current practice finds inspiration in the natural world to explore themes of life, death, sex and magic. Her darkly humorous drawings and sculptures are at once alluring and disarming. They appear like mental maps to a strange and erotic terrain where suppressed desires and fears emerge as eerie dreamscapes. The imagery and collected objects that inform her artworks have been found around the bushland and coastline where she regularly walks: places close to her home outside Waylyup/Fremantle.
I photograph natural patterns, strange tree forms, fungi and delicate orchids. Sometimes I take home small findings that sit beside me in my studio. These objects seem to stare back at me, asserting a kind of dignified and humble sacredness.
Intrigued by the idea of secret worlds pulsing and thriving beyond our awareness, McKnight’s work reveals a sense of magic in the natural world. Her drawings reveal delicate lines and soft colours, transcribing known objects that then exude dark dreamings of speckled spore and translucent seepings. Her 7ft tall sculpture, In darkness, the eternal light (2020) commands a powerful presence. Appearing like a shaman for a lost world, the work is inspired by pagan costumes and the Shinto influenced films of Hayao Miyazaki along with what has become a personal totem of sorts, the banksia nut. Throughout her practice, McKnight has returned to the core themes of transformation and the interconnectedness of all things. Her current work continues with these concepts, speculating on the nature of being by referring to the everyday alchemy of growth and decay.