We get to know Marie Antuanelle, a multi media artist renowned for her stunning aerial seascape portholes with gemstones, pearls, Swarovski crystals, seashells and liquid glass. Originally from Russia, Marie has been living in Australia for the past five years following a childhood dream to live close to the ocean.
A lot of your artwork has reference to the ocean…
Yes. It mesmerises me. Sometimes, it’s almost like it puts me in a trance. That constant movement of the waves…and flying above - like a bird or a lost soul.
We’re guessing you didn’t see much of the ocean living in Siberia...
Well, actually, my grandmother lived close to The Black Sea, in a small village. So every single summer, through my childhood, we travelled there for three months.
Do you live somewhere where you can see the ocean every day?
I live in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney (close to Bondi beach). We move around a bit, but I always make sure we have proximity to the ocean, because that’s where I get my inspiration. I go to the beach, and I meditate on the place, collect fallen objects, like seashells and stones, and then I use these for inspiration. I also use them as a guide through my meditation and in my painting. Most of my paintings are named, or somehow have some hint of, the place they are inspired by.
So each painting is devoted to a certain beach in Australia or around the world, or a marine resort - something like that.
How do you actually create the pieces? Are some taken from satellite images of the ocean?
They are all one hundred percent hand made. I use aerial photography as inspiration. So I just look at the photos, and guide my inspiration from there. After that, I work with the mineral stones, crystals, seashells, pigments and I also use gemstones, to pay tribute to my Russian heritage and to highlight how precious the beauty of untouched nature for our future generations…
What is the connection to Russia?
In Russia, we have these artworks completely made of crushed stone. They can be semi-precious gemstones, and usually they are glued to the board, one by one. I use this technique in combination with the modern, fluid technique of using Liquid Glass Epoxy.
Tell us more about how it all comes together...
First of all, I go to the place and I meditate, to get the feeling, and understand which colour palate I have to paint in. Sometimes I use aerial photography of the place for the composition, or the perspective. Then I collect the fallen objects - like seashells or sand. I figure out what kinds of mineral stones or gem stones, pearls or Swarovski crystals I want to use. I like to find a nice combination in colour, but also with their meaning. Because each mineral has their own healing powers.
And then you recreate it?
Not exactly, because I also add my emotions and feelings that are inspired by the place. For me it’s about trying to capture the feeling of the place, not exactly copying something. I intentionally erase the traces of human presence from them - somehow creating a portal to another version of our planet - without people - porthole to the untouched nature. Also I add halo lighting behind the frame to make the artwork glow like a night light.
So your pieces are a little like a scrap book?
Yeah. I’ve been to the place, so I like to include some things from the place. Most of my originals are round - I think this shape is the best representation of the Porthole or a Sea Portal somehow referring to the planet shape.
They are beautiful. And they really give you a sense of being by the sea...
Maybe because there are actual physical objects taken from the place in the artwork? That might be one or two seashells, or a bit of sand. Or stones.
How long does it take you to do each piece?
If you count the collection of the fallen objects, and getting the inspiration and Gemstones - sometimes it takes few months, just to figure out in my head how everything should be placed. I use several layers and each has to dry over couple of days.
What are your favourite Australian beaches?
Definitely Byron Bay. We travel to there quite often. But I have a big collection of seashells from everywhere. I have travelled through the world - Southeast Asia, The Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand. Even the United States. Actually, I lived in the US for a while, so some are dedicated to beaches there - like Laguna Beach.
Have you spent most of your adult life travelling and painting?
Pretty much. But I actually started in the corporate world, where I worked for seven years. But I figured out that creating something, that inspires others to take action into marine conservation is what inspires me. This is what I am passionate about - it has more meaning than just making money.
Follow Marie on Instagram via @antuan_elle
Cover photo credit: Damien Lloyd