“This is my old desk, in Australia, and I would keep all my favourite things on it. I really like tiny things and toys. In that little music box is my old insect collection. (I only collect insects that are dead.) I keep a collection here in Germany. I like using them as reference for paintings. I (now) work on a wooden fold out desk. It’s not anything big or flashy, but I like it. If the work is too big for my desk, the easel gets pulled out. Depending on the day, sometimes I have a colour pencil drawing on it, sometimes a painting, a sketchbook, or sculpture.
This is a painting I was working on for an exhibition called Hell Vs The Monster Mash, at the Hive Gallery in Los Angeles. The girl in the photo was my model for the painting, and the other picture is a photo of some maquettes that I made for lighting.”
Lilly Piri is an Australian artist living in Heidelberg, Germany. She studied art and illustration at the Arts Academy, in Brisbane. She’s been illustrating since 2006, is represented by the Jacky Winter Group, and has worked for Saatchi and Saatchi, Harpers Bazaar, Frankie and Poketo. She’s exhibited her art at Thinkspace Gallery in Los Angeles, Lamington Drive in Melbourne, Bourgeois Pig in Heidelberg, and many more. She’s married to Heiko Windisch, a fellow illustrator and artist.
I remember being deeply disturbed by moral tales like The Dog And His Reflection and the Boy Who Cried Wolf.
FROM YOUR DESKS: Does your art reflect certain fables you read or loved as a child?
LILLY PIRI: Yes, Grimm’s fairy tales, Aesop’s Fables and all kinds of tales. I remember being deeply disturbed by moral tales like the story of the greedy dog who drops his bone in the river (The Dog And His Reflection) and the Boy Who Cried Wolf.
FYD: Your figures have a mischievous look to them and an animal is always around. What have they been doing?
LP: I’m not sure, maybe they’ve been keeping secrets or discovering something.
FYD: Maybe the animals know what they’ve been doing?
LP: The animals know all!
FYD: Are your animals smarter than your humans?
LP: Most likely.
LP: I like their spots, and they have the same kind of head and ears as kangaroos. Brother and Sister is a favourite tale of mine, which I once made a drawing of, it could have been the first time I drew a deer.
FYD: Has living in Germany added something different to your work?
LP: It’s lovely here. Moving to a foreign land changes you, it’s just something that is hard to describe. You either have to change, or you will be terribly unhappy, because it will never be ‘like back home’. It’s all connected, so I guess it does add something to my art; the traditional, simple, wooden toys they make here are very inspiring to me. When I first moved, I was reading an ancient book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and just being in Germany, was enough to make some of the stories very scary. I’ve got an irrational fear of wolves!