Patrizia Tonello was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia.
Her studies include a two-year diploma course in Applied Arts and Sciences at the West Australian College of Advanced Education (now Edith Cowan University), which covered a diverse range of art practices including painting, poetry, film-making and theatre production (1981 – 1982), and a degree in Fine Art at Curtin University of Technology (1984 – 1986). She majored in painting, doing a minor in sculpture, successfully completing her Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art in 1986.
After graduating, Patrizia spent 6 months back-packing round Europe. She returned to Australia toward the end of 1987, where she rented a studio above The Beach Gallery on Beaufort St. for over a year until its closure in 1988. Throughout the next few years, Patrizia participated in numerous group exhibitions in and around Perth and Fremantle.
In 1992, she and artist Gina Cinanni shared an exhibition space at the Fremantle Arts Centre. Ostensibly her first solo show, Affinities consisted entirely of large-scale paintings on holland blinds and unstretched canvases depicting imaginary structures in often desolate landscapes. Three works from this exhibition were included in The Painted Image: Western Australian Art #1 (ed. Ted Snell, 1991).
In November 1994, Patrizia’s second solo exhibition Doors Windows Walls was held at Artplace, in Claremont, WA. The exhibition showcased several large oil paintings on holland blinds, as well as some smaller studies, all linked by architectural themes.
In February 1996, she participated in two group exhibitions showcasing the work of six Western Australian figurative painters. The two shows ran concurrently – one at Artplace in Perth, the other at Beaver Galleries in Canberra.
1998 saw the launch of Patrizia’s third solo exhibition at Artplace; Heavy Metal, a series of paintings depicting monumental metal objects in various landscapes.
Ai Margini (On the Margins), a group exhibition showcasing work by artists of Italian heritage at John Curtin Gallery in 2000, was the last exhibition in which Patrizia participated before voluntarily withdrawing from the public eye. She felt her work was in danger of becoming repetitive and wanted time to explore other creative fields.
During the next few years, she began her first experiments with plaster and concrete as a fine art medium. The new sculptural works that evolved were geometric, minimal and for the most part, monochromatic, incorporating found objects and materials usually found on building sites.
The resulting body of work culminated in a solo exhibition in May 2007 at the Showcase Space gallery, at the Perth TAFE campus (now Central Institute of Technology). Meditations drew on the Zen philosophy of simplicity and mindfulness, incorporating found objects such as rusted metal, lead sheeting and used sump oil with simple geometric forms made of light-weight concrete.
Receiving a Project Development Grant from the Department of Culture and the Arts enabled her to mount another solo exhibition at the Showcase Space Gallery in September 2008. Urban Evolution consisted of wall-mounted and free-standing sculptures, a floor installation as well as numerous paintings, a medium the artist had eschewed for several years. Thematically revolving around abandoned industrial sites, the work explored the notion of built-in obsolescence in a consumer age obsessed with the latest material acquisition.
Later that year, Patrizia was invited to participate in fellow-artist Stuart Elliott’s video art project The Underpass Motel. Working in conjunction with partner Graham Taylor, the pair’s contribution to the Underpass project, a 7-minute film entitled Mortal Coil (2009) combined computer generated images and digitally manipulated photographs to explore the repetitive nature of existence and the futility of trying to escape one’s past.
She also contributed to other parts of the overall video project, including a ‘making of’ film documenting the process, and several fictional ‘trailers’ showcasing Elliott’s “small festival of empty, manipulative promises”. The launch of The Underpass Motel, along with the accompanying exhibition of artworks featuring in or inspired by the project, was held at Turner Galleries, Perth in October, 2009.
Following the interest generated by Elliott’s highly successful video project, Patrizia was engaged to co-edit a documentary about WA artist David Gregson titled A Desire to Relate, produced for the Mundaring Arts Centre in late 2009. Assisted by Art on the Move, an exhibition of the late David Gregson’s works and the accompanying video toured various regional centres around WA over the next 12 months.
In February 2010, Patrizia’s 6th solo exhibition Semi-permanent opened at Gallery East, North Fremantle, a series of sculptural works and paintings inspired by buildings either in the process of construction or demolition.
That same year, her application for funding through the Department of Culture and the Arts to establish a web-based platform to showcase art videos was successful. The Hollow City Chronicles featured video works of 7 West Australian visual artists, many of whom had already worked together on The Underpass Motel. http://www.hollowcitychronicles.com/
As well as her own short film contribution titled The Collector (2011), Patrizia acted as curator for an exhibition of artworks which had been used in the making of the individual films. The exhibition accompanying the website’s launch was held at the Junction Gallery in Midland, WA in February 2011.
In 2012, Patrizia was invited to contribute paintings to a group show organised by Dr David Bromfield exhibited at the Gallery Horikawa in Kobe, Japan. The show went on to tour a succession of galleries around Japan over the course of that year.
In October 2012, Patrizia had her 7th solo exhibition Metropolis at Gallery East, her final with the gallery before its closure at the end of 2012. Featuring sculptural wall works, paintings and a video work, Metropolis explored the concept of urban spaces and the materials used in its construction. Two works from this show were purchased for the Kerry Stokes collection.
Since 2013, she – in conjunction with partner Graham Taylor – has been concentrating solely on film projects; short documentaries about WA artists Peter Dailey (Apparitions: The Syndicate II, 2013) ; Troy Bennell (Bennell Songlines, 2013); Lance Chadd (Tjyllyungoo, 2014); Sharyn Egan (Full Circle, 2014) and Richard Walley (Creative Spirit, 2014) (visit Youtube channel Abandoned Suitcase); an ambitious video collaboration with artist Stuart Elliott (Memories of the Facility, 2015) funded by BHP, as well as several corporate video productions through Edith Cowan University.
Finding the endless possibilities of digital film-making a fascinating process, she is now looking to combine the practical skills acquired over the years of her art practice with that of the virtual realm, exploring new ways to connect with an audience via the internet.