ASTA Lander is “monkeying around” for a cause close to her heart as part of her first solo exhibition.
The Leeming artist’s exhibition opened at the Vic Park Centre for the Arts today and closes December 6.
The Monkeying Around exhibition showcases 40 colourful, recycled toy monkeys and 20 hand painted tote bags decorated by the artist and hopes to raise awareness for the Humane Research Australia’s Ban Primate Experiments campaign.
Lander said she was shocked by the use of primates at eastern states universities.
“Just like the real monkeys, I wanted to give the toy monkeys a second life and so I decorated them in a flamboyant way,” she said.
“I learnt quite a lot in the process of putting the exhibition together; in the past I’ve done nice portraits and acrylic paintings but I wanted to be playful and encourage others to do the same.
“My own inner critic was being a jerk but I enjoyed putting the exhibition together.”
Lander said she had no expectations when she started the project and she just wanted to have fun.
“It all started in April after my father passed away; I’ve become quite fond of the monkeys, they feel like my babies,” she said.
“I collected them at op shops and once people found out about the project they donated some to me, which was fantastic.”
Lander said after turning 50, she decided to explore her artistic side in 2013 and pushed herself to do the 365 Paintings Challenge, which involves doing one painting a day for a year.
“I moved back to Narrogin, where I had grown up, and realised that I hadn’t done as bad as I thought during school,” she said.
“Growing up, I thought I was average and I had no exposure to artists like I do now.
“I revisited my past and realised I didn’t fail at school and I should pursue art.”