BY FELINO DOLLOSO –
Rosell Flatley is a multidisciplinary artist from Sydney, Australia. She is a visual artist, art performer, educator and curator who’s work explores cultural identity, the female form and mental health. Rosell is a local artist and supporter of unheard voices, particularly amongst creatives battling mental health, sexual identity and cultural diversity and identity.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in the Arts ?
Pursuing a career in art was not something I always realised that I wanted to do. From a young age I did have strengths in creativity, and I loved to draw, but I didn’t realize art could be a career for me. I was always encouraged to pursue something more conventional, and art was viewed as more of a hobby, or something to do on the side. Although art was a great passion of mine, I had many interests and I studied accounting, graphic design and curating. Throughout my life I dabbled in many creative fields, from photography to graffiti and illustrations, to making logos and shirt designs, all as hobbies. An epiphany moment, that really changed my perspective on pursuing art, was seeing a friend from high school who had her first solo show and I really envied her for pursuing something that she loved to do.
At this time, I was working towards a career that wasn’t making me happy and I did not feel motivated in what I was doing. I knew I had a passion to create but making the decision to chase my dreams boiled down to two things. One was the question of regret. I asked myself if I would regret not trying to pursue a career in art. And the answer was: Yes. Later in my life I would look back and regret not trying. The second was about purpose. Where would I fit in and how could I best contribute to the world? I knew I had a story to tell about migrating from the Philippines, the hardships endured, family expectations and being stuck between two very differing worlds and cultures.
From what age did you know of your interest in Visual and Performance Arts.
I was 15 years old when I first considered trying Visual and Performance art. It was a way to escape being bullied at school as well as the anxiety and pressure from home.
What projects or work have you been involved in Australia and or overseas?
I’ve been involved with the Front Up Organisation, the first disability-led Arts and Cultural program and community Hub of it’s kind based in Seven Hills, Western Sydney. Art Gallery of NSW, Art Space, First Draft, Fairfield City Museum & Gallery, PACT and an international group show organised by SALUHAN which has been shown in The Philippines at Project 20 Gallery.
Of the work you listed above, any favourites or one that is closest to your heart so far?
No favourites, they are all very close to my heart but if I really need to pick one it will be my recent performance piece with Edge Greenway for Innerwest Council because it is a very important issue.
I made a Pedicab as an aspect of my artist residency which explores critical issues faced by migrant women from the Philippines who leave their families and travel overseas to provide a better standard of living for those who remain. My alter ego, ‘Ate Indai’ (Ahh-thay En-dye) used the pedicab to showcase this traditional mode of transportation that is still used today.
The Pedicab created an interaction point for people to discuss the social issues around the immigration as well as how the pedicab was made. Indai was able to describe the recycled materials used and why, as well as the relevant use of bright colours. The Pedicab was inspired to showcase how Filipino’s are very resourceful and skilled with creating practical items with limited materials and resources in an effort to eke out an income for their families.
Who would you accredit as having the greatest influence on you and in what you do?
The greatest influence will be my Nanay (Grandmother) Adela Amper Deloso and the memories and experiences of my childhood in the philippines. I still have strong and vivid images of this time and how it shaped me to be the woman I am today. It’s also the rich culture of my hometown Anda, Bohol, Philippines.
Who would you select as the most enjoyable person/s you have worked with and why?
This is probably the easiest question to answer, Digby Webster is just the nicest, funniest and genuine guy I have collaborated with. I met Digby through the Front Up Emerg program and we bounce ideas off each other and look for opportunities to collaborate on future projects together. Digby and I work well together and often finish each other’s sentences.
Any current projects you are currently working on?
I’m currently working on a new performance piece for a show Edge Sydenham, Inner West Council on the 23rd October.
My project idea is a performance/dance piece that taps into my cultural heritage, religious influences and family expectations. The performance I envisage is a combination of creative dance, visual props and setting as well as pre-recorded background sounds ( Nanay Praying, church bells/mass etc).
What was the most enjoyable/best part of your career so far?
The most enjoyable part of my career so far is looking back at how far I have developed as an artist and believing that I can do what I enjoy most and make a career out of it.
What else would you want to accomplish?
I would love to perform and collaborate with Beji Ra and Latai Taumoepeau.
What advice would you give to other aspiring Pinoy-Aussie Visual and/or Performance Artists who are keen to establish themselves in the industry?
I would say be authentic, and true to yourself and your life experiences as everyone has their unique story. But to be brutally honest if you are doing this full time, there is so much more involved with being an artist. The administration tasks, marketing and the rest is your art.
Article by Felino Dolloso 2021