Favorite material to work with?
My favorite materials to work with are ink and paper, I realize the question is specific about ‘material’ as in one but I see these two for me linked in a ying yang embrace so I count them as one entity. I like paper that does not necessarily come from an art shop, I appreciate found papers that have foxing or an aged character or old book pages from ruined books (I never damage a book that is in good condition, I am a bibliophile and such an action would be anathema to me). I glue these together and make larger sheets to draw on. If art media and materials were an organic beast then I believe ‘ink’ would be its life blood. I could easily spend my entire life learning about the methods and diversity of this amazing liquid. I like it in its rawest form having to dip my implement such as a brush or nib pen into it and using it as thus. The brush loaded with ink offers a sensual rich dripping line while the pen a nervy fragile delicate one. Pure Indian ink and Sumi ink are my favorites.
What themes do you pursue?
I tend to splinter when faced with this question, for in the end to limit oneself to one or two or three themes is to ‘limit’ oneself. I realize in the art world as such this can cause confused reaction as to the merits of an artists search or journey, I think this is an old notion and will die out, I feel the world around has become more and more faceted and fractured in its natural and subliminal recoiling from a mass marketed passively hostile generification of everything in the commercial, social and artistic domain. I do work in small segments or series at times but over all if I was having to label and be forced to pigeon hole my work I would have to say it deals with “melancholia” and its associated conditions, such as beauty, nostalgia and spiritual confusion.
How many years as an artist?
Since leaving the womb.
Where is your studio?
I own my own home which has a yard. I have had a free standing wooden structure built, it has a wooden floor and no rules inside… I have filled it with two desks, an easel, old and new books, brushes, pencils, oddities, scraps of paper, canvases and other art materials as well as a stool, a few chairs and a cane seat to sit back on when pondering. Behind this wooden structure I have a large tin shed for storage of finished work and other related items. My studio is not huge but it is homely, it was inspired by the shed Dylan Thomas used at his home in Ireland to write in, I saw a photo of it and fell in love with the feeling it projected even through the photo. If I really want to throw ink around I need just step out the door into the yard where I have an out door easel and I can go a little crazy, grass and earth are wonderful for soaking up ink.
Prefer to work with music or in silence?
Depends on circumstance and work, sometimes I like quality talk radio like the BBC may offer otherwise it’s classical music (all extremes, Beethoven to Philip Glass) or jazz (Miles Davis) music that moves my creative buttons.
What’s around the corner from your place?
A real cool fruit shop, with lots of ethnic foods, nuts and cheap melons 🙂
Where can we find you outside the studio?
Inside the house eating or looking at books or scribbling in a sketchbook or on this computer contraption, which I refuse to allow into my studio. I also like to do things with my family of course.
If you couldn’t be an artist, what would you do?
If I couldn’t be an artist I would do nothing. I would just sit and read, I guess if I had to have a job I would want to be a night janitor in a library so I could sweep very quickly then sit and read the rest of the shift away. Other than that I would want to see if I could fly off cliffs without wings or live under the sea without breathing. If I am alive I can be an artist there is no real other option (apart from that library position 🙂 )
What do you collect?
I am the worst kind of hoarder, one in denial, I collect any oddity I can find. I have large printers drawers in my lounge room and they are overflowing with the wonderous and mundane. I have books everywhere in cases, on the floor, under things. Really old books, new books, magazines, vintage and retro postcards. My life is a jumble of things, I have a huge heap of old vinyl records and a big old record player and I listen to ‘freewheelin Bob Dylan’ on it or ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ or Abbey Road or what ever. I want to be a minimalist at heart but I just can’t rid myself of all the stuff I have… I still have the first vintage Evil Knievel bendy doll with helmet and motorbike under my bed… lol. I loosely have based my lounge room on Holmes Baker street sitting rooms, there are books on all sorts of subjects around (the odder the better) a globe of the earth as well as the moon, skulls from bats and crows and an elk skull, odd items abound along with plaster busts in various sizes of Mozart, Beethoven and Shakespeare, to name a few. In short I like to think of myself as a minimalist with a healthy regard for the ‘wunderkammer’.
Who are your favorite writers?
I love the story of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde and the way it’s written, I have re-read it often just for its use of language, the rest of Louis Stevenson I can live without, I like Joyce and Dostoevsky and Nabakov and Proust and so many but I really love Kafka and am inspired by his writing a lot. As far as poetry goes my top three would be Rimbaud, Baudelaire and on the far side of the spectrum Charles Bukowski.
If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
That diamond encrusted skull Hirst made so at least I could pick the precious stones off one at a time and buy a heap of other stuff with each, including great books with fine reproductions of all the other multitude of art works I like better but could not choose from.
Use anything other than paint?
I mainly use ink but I do use paint as well, usually gouache or oil, but I will really use anything at all and enjoy using collage in particular.
Use anything other than paint?
I have experimented with some collage elements in my paintings – found photos and used paper palettes.
Is painting dead?
LOL!…. what is death?….What is life for that matter?…..”is life dead?” is a better question. Painting can never die only Philistines can build a fortress around it. When the human finally walked upright and had sex and hunted and did a few other necessary chores they painted on the walls of their caves. Goya died, Picasso died, Damien Hirst will die, while there is a human with a hand that can hold a brush painting will live.
I use bamboo Chinese and or Japanese brushes… I like the way you can load them up, they can cover huge areas quickly then taper off into a thin line in an instant, and they feel right for me at least. I don’t use them in their traditional sense, I have no idea how to but they serve my expressive needs perfectly, I always use three sizes, from thin to thick.
Monet or Manet?
Must everything be based on decisions of such weak merit?… Why not an infusion of the two? I eternally respect both and could not choose one over the other with any clear conscience. There is relevance to both in me.