Lisa Reid on the Value of Memory

Lisa Reid “A lot of my artwork is about memory.” 

Lisa Reid (b 1975, Melbourne) is an accomplished multidisciplinary artist working in ceramics, painting, drawing, printmaking and digital media and has worked at Arts Project since 2002. She has shown in major exhibitions nationally and internationally, including Painting More Painting at Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) and her work is held by the National Gallery of Australia and National Gallery of Victoria. Often utilising preliminary workings of an image as a blueprint for her work, Lisa Reid’s attention to detail is unparalleled.

In this interview, Reid focusses on The Old Fashioned Cash Register with the Old Paper Dollar Notes and Coins 2018 which was a center-piece at the recent Leonard Joel auction The day we all went home.¹ Discussing this work, she also speaks on her other ceramics, which are often comprised of multiple components and meticulously constructed over a long period. While she talks on the value of memory in her process, she doesn’t shy away from the present as she also ponders on the pandemic’s disruption to her practice.

Lisa Reid of the Value of Memory


Can you tell me a little bit about this artwork?  

I got the image off the internet. I found it online, and I found the paper notes online too. The money used to look like that back in the early 1980s, when I was a child.

Do you remember seeing cash registers like this in the 80s?

I remember seeing them in op shops. I like going to op shops, but unfortunately, we can’t go to them much because of COVID. Can’t really go anywhere much because of COVID. I can’t even visit my family.

You’re an artist that works with lots of different mediums, including printmaking, zines, ceramics, painting and drawing. Which of these do you think is your favourite?

Well, I used to do printmaking until I got that part-time job at Foodworks. My favourite is ceramics and 2D. I like everything, making things, all different things. I like working in ceramics in 3D. I’m currently making a walkman. I had a few walkmans back in my past. I had a Discman too— I had a few of them because they wore out all the time because I listened to them so much. A lot of my artwork is about memory.

How hard is it using a 2D image from the internet to make a 3D artwork?

You just copy it from a template. You put it on pieces of paper first and then make it in the clay. You cut them out. And I just copied the coins out of clay from the real stuff.

Can you remember how long it took to make the cash register ceramic?

A bit over a year? It took a lot of concentration and a lot of work. A lot of detail. The numbers are a bit like a calculator too. I like how I did the in-tray with the bluey-grey- that’s something that I decided to do myself.  

In choosing your reference material, do you prefer to work with images you find on the internet or your own personal photographs?

Both— I like working with photos of my family and with the ones I find on the internet. Recently, I’ve been doing a zine, with my Grandmother’s face in the Red Riding Hood bed.

What do you like about being an artist?

I just like to be challenged and to keep myself busy. Making things. I just like using a lot of detail. I’ve been making art since primary school and started at Arts Project nearly 20 years ago… and now all this [COVID] has happened.

It is tough to know something so well and to be faced with a big change. We’ll get back to the Arts Project studio eventually though, won’t we?

Yeah, it all takes time.

Lisa Reid on Memory

Images | Lisa Reid, The Old Fashioned Cash Register with the Old Paper Dollar Notes and Coins, 2018, glazed earthenware, 12.5 x 25 x 32 cm

Lisa Reid, Self Portrait Of Me Wearing My Best Dress, 2017, pencil on paper, 56 x 38.5 cm

¹The lot was passed in and the artwork remains for sale through the Arts Project Australia gallery.

Love from the Studio is a series of interviews and articles bringing you behind the scenes of Arts Project Australia.  Interview by Margaret McIntosh, Gallery Technician.