In the fifth iteration of The Syndicate commission, Linde Ivimey presents ten extraordinary child-size figurative works along with a survey of her practice.   



Linde Ivimey at her exhibition Syndicate 5 + 1 Survey at Art Collective WA.  Photo Lyn DiCiero. 

Syndicate 5 + 1 Survey by Sydney-based Linde Ivimey at Art Collective WA represents a long creative and life journey for the former Claremont School of Art student, who found critical and financial success with her first solo at Victoria’s Heide Museum of Modern Art in 2003, transforming her from an unknown to eventually being named three times as one of the country’s 50 most collectible artists by Australian Art Collector. 


In 2014 when Ivimey was invited to accept a $100,000 commission from The Syndicate group of collectors in WA she had to say no due to ill health. Since 2013 she has been struck with three different types of cancer, leading to ten years of treatment including chemo, breast reconstruction and various surgical procedures to bring her body back to health. She describes her life and work in terms of “BC” (before cancer) and “AD” (after diagnosis). In 2019 she was once again invited to take part in The Syndicate’s commission for its fifth iteration, only this time she felt able. Led by collector Lloyd Horn, The Syndicate usually consists of ten art patrons who contribute an equal amount to commission an artist to create ten life-size figurative sculptural works over two to three years, with each patron receiving one work. The commission allows artists time to experiment and think big without the constraints of earning an income. Previous recipients of the commission were Simon Gilby, Peter Dailey, Stuart Elliott and Paul Kaptein.  
Ivimey says she had no idea she was still on The Syndicate’s wish list but was delighted to accept. “It happened at a great time because I had been working in Vanuatu for years and had just came back to Sydney the very night our borders were closing down with COVID. So I had no access to neighbours and friends, and was not allowed to leave the house, however I did come back to my studio with a real purpose and was able to get straight into it.” Ivimey reread AA Milne’s Now We Are Six and When We Were Very Young, being inspired by Ernest H Shepard’s illustrations in the books to create life-size child figures full of child-like wonder, accompanied by objects or elements of make believe such as toy teddies and bunnies. They were to become her COVID companions for the following 18 months.
She had modelled one and sent the specifications to China to have blanks made from a material which could be cut, welded, shaped and manipulated to give each sculpture its own character in an exploration of imagination and play. Much of the works are clad in stitched chicken neck bones which also proved problematic to access during lockdowns, particularly with quantities of 25 kilos of chicken necks at a time being cooked in water to eventually access the bones.
Known for her use of unusual and recycled materials, the survey component of the exhibition gives full reign to these with mediums such as fish, sheep, snakes, wallabies, cows, tortoise and bird bones, laundry lint, human teeth, champagne tops and peacock feathers as well as the use of stones such as garnets, amethyst, agate, quartz, peridot, topaz, onyx and pearls.  
Born in Sydney, Ivimey travelled through Africa for a year in her early twenties before landing in London. Running short of funds, she says she had the good fortune of randomly applying for a job which saw her working for UK artist Antony Gormley as a nanny for his three children. “They wanted a creative nanny, and I already had studied graphic design,” she says. “He was sharing a studio with Anish Kapoor at the time, so I had seen that professional art was a possibility.”
Ivimey soon became homesick. When she heard about Claremont School of Art she said she thought, “‘Oh yeah, my sister is in Perth. I think I’ll go to Claremont’” – knowing nothing about it. At Claremont School of Art her lecturers included Tony Jones and Stuart Elliott. She says in Perth, more than anywhere else, people will recognise good craftsmanship. “It’s because of the generation or the cohort of sculptors that I come from who excel in their fabrication and their material use. It was the end of an era to be taught that way at Claremont.”
Lloyd Horn agrees. He says like the previous artists invited for The Syndicate commissions, Ivimey comes from that background of artists who studied at the long-closed Claremont School of Art whose excellence in making is obvious. “Linde can weld, angle grind and so on in the making of works,” he says. “For a sculptor, being able to make things is very important, although these days with computers and external fabrication, it’s maybe not so much. In the end I guess we’ve always been drawn towards works that almost have a bit of the artist’s DNA in them.”
The Syndicate has gradually increased its offering to artists since 2014 when Ivimey was first asked to participate. Ten patrons now contribute $15,000-plus each for the $165,000 commission. Horn says it’s really about supporting artists. “I’ve always said getting an artwork at the end of it is really a bonus.”
The process by which Syndicate patrons receive an artwork is simple – the first name literally drawn from a hat has first choice of the ten artworks, and so on. Horn says every one of the ten works are amazing. “They’re so terrific everyone would’ve been happy with whatever one they received.”
Horn has said this may well be the last Syndicate commission. “It’s like an artist, working, painting or making sculpture – they do it because they really love doing it. In this case, it’s just doing something I really enjoy doing,” he says. “It’s the old story: ‘never say never’ I guess.”
Syndicate 5 + 1 Survey by Linde Ivimey is on show with Embed by Susan Roux at Art Collective WA until 22 July. 

♦ The entire Syndicate commission, plus an additional work in Syndicate 5 + 1 by Linde Ivimey.


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