Telekom Electronic Beats

E-MERGING: Leo Costelloe’s art is a shiny love letter to loneliness

The London-based artist blurs the lines between beauty and banality.

E-MERGING: Leo Costelloe’s art is a shiny love letter to loneliness

The London-based artist blurs the lines between beauty and banality.

Text: Juule Kay

The world is changing, and with it, a new generation of trailblazers is taking over. In our monthly series E-MERGING, we introduce the people adding to the cultural moment with their creative minds, new ideas and unique approaches. It’s a glimpse behind the scenes, a way to dig deeper and look beyond the picture-perfect outcome we’re swamped with every day.

“I’ve always made work all the time,” says Australian artist Leo Costelloe, who moved to London at the age of 19 for the sake of fashion. Many lives later, including a career in flowers, the CSM graduatxe created a magical world of its own, where delicate cutlery and fragile glass bows meet hand-knit sterling silver crowns that make you feel like the princess you really are. Even his sketches look straight out of an enchanted fairy tale.

At first glance, you might connect the sculptural pieces to a big birthday celebration, but they are in fact based on a completely opposite sentiment. “When I capture the work, I’m trying to make it feel lonely or removed in a way,” explains the artist, exploring the transient and sentimental nature of objects. “I’m trying to further the disconnect in the material to make it feel uncanny.” For him, this sort of loneliness in the objects and the diversion in the materials is what makes them interesting.

Drawing inspiration from popular culture, personal experience and starlets like Marylin Monroe, his references and aesthetic pools have been consistent over the years. While growing up on Tumblr, watching anime and reading contemporary female authors like Banana Yoshimoto and Chris Kraus, he nowadays turns to TikTok in search of creativity. “I’m currently obsessed with hair tutorials, and I have like two inches of hair,” he chuckles, touching his blonde tips. His creative process is usually very intuitive and mood-driven, formed by writing down ideas or drawing sketches. “Sometimes, I make a little note or draw a little picture and then usually go straight into sampling, depending on how confident I feel,” he explains.

Since Costelloe made his first bow appearance in the form of a copper candlestick back in 2018, the motif recurs throughout his work in different shapes and sizes–like in his latest creations: a twisted silver fork and spoon with bow ends. “I see cutlery more as jewels for the table that you can also hold,” the artist says, fascinated by its experiential nature and functionality. For him, bows are a complicated thing that was initially used to secure clothing until it morphed into decoration and later gained a feminine association he’s trying to disrupt. “I think that’s what I like about them: they are very functional and almost utilitarian; people don’t really associate them with these kinds of things,” he concludes. “There is more meaning in them than just putting a bow on it.”

What is something “too soft, too scary”?
A seahorse.

What’s an unusual way to use cutlery?
In your hair.

Please tell us your favourite quote from Lana Del Rey.
“I know a lot of things, but I don’t know about that.”

Describe what your ideal birthday celebration looks like.
There is this old Pinterest board of mine, which I named “Enchantment under the sea themed birthday party,” and it’s four pictures: a shell chandelier, art deco, sirens, and 40s dance.

If your art had a scent, what would it smell like?
Like a stale version of Britney Spears “Radiance” fragrance.