TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT YOU AND WHERE WE ARE RIGHT NOW…
I’m Jacob Boylan, I’m a screen printer, and we’re in Mullumbimby, in the Ross Industrial Complex. Before we got here, it was an incense factory, which is why it always smells good here, and all my art smells like incense – and when I leave it in my car, I smell like incense! Before that, at some point, it was a dairy. I think my little dark room in there is where they kept cold stuff, which is why it would have all been closed off, without windows.
WHAT KIND OF CHILD WERE YOU GROWING UP? HOW DID IT GUIDE YOU TO CHOOSE A CREATIVE CAREER?
I was always really curious, and needed to know the answers to things. I like knowing, I like facts, and then I kind of fell in love with art history and art theory. My high school art teacher would push me, she’d explain what each artist did, and I was like: “Huh, Manet was a badass!” It rattled me, and I used to spend a lot of time in the art room with her. Then my mom would always make sure that she’d take me to art galleries. She didn’t know heaps about art, and neither did dad, but I think she just wanted to provide that for me, not just galleries, but theatre, and gigs, music and stuff. She was trying to cover all the bases; it’s like she knew, almost.
WHAT CHANGES HAVE HAPPENED IN THIS AREA? WHO ARE YOUR NEIGHBORS?
There used to be a gallery in that lane just there; they’ve just moved to the Byron Bay Industrial Estate, which is sad, because they will lose a little bit of their charm. But they were the first; I’d never been to the Ross Industrial Complex until they opened their gallery. I had a show there, it was nice. But before I came here, Emma Walker, who’s an amazing artist, was here, and then our friend Mahala, and our friend Nat, who’s a freelance writer, and he hit me up, and I came. We kind of all just took over this little zone. It’s exciting, seeing people come in and go: “What’s going on in here? There’s a bit happening in this area!”
YOUR SOURCE MATERIAL IS ALL AUSTRALIANA BOOKS. WHY DO THEY FASCINATE YOU, AND HOW DO YOU ACTUALLY MAKE YOUR WORK?
Australiana stuff fascinates me, because I like to make things about, A) what I know, and B) what I want to understand better. I’m a white Australian, and there’s so many weird things to understand about who I am, and who I’m meant to be right now – how to be progessive, and how to care, and how to support people in the right way – and I think the way to look at these questions is to understand how I’ve become this person, through history and everything but also through pop culture. The Australiana books, aesthetically, and through nostalgia – I also just find them hilarious. A lot of people will come and see the works and they go “Wow, Breeze Blocks, oh yeah, I used to have that fancy one at my house.” It arouses this weird thing in people, especially with some kind of heavy imagery, though it might even be subtle, that they go: “I can’t believe that used to be like that.” It’s these hidden histories that people will block out and try to forget, but finding them, I think, is important.
My process, or a big part of my process, is collecting all these books and just trying to do as little as possible to the images, so they can speak for themselves. It’s quite objective, and you can see it conjures up things in people, though it also represents a lot. Sometimes I’ll collage the books, or sometimes I’ll just put them straight into the scanner and put them on a screen and work them. I like the idea of letting things speak for themselves, and try to do less to things. It’s more about curating images, finding what represents this or that ambiguous question I’m trying to ask.
IF YOU COULD LIVE AT ANY TIME IN HISTORY, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, WHERE WOULD YOU LIVE AND WHEN?
Two weeks ago was pretty good, before Corona… I don’t know, I’m kind of nostalgic about things, and that’s another thing I bring out in the work, like this nostalgia for things that you never lived through. I would like the idea of living in Australia in the sixties and seventies, that golden era of sports and all this stuff – though I think if I was actually alive there, with my brain now, I’d be: “These guys a bloody drongos, you just can’t be doing this stuff.”
Or maybe I’d live way back, like in frontier Australia. That would be pretty amazing and scary, facing so much untouched stuff. It used to be kind of like a massive scary playground in here that could kill you. I mean, no one knew anything about it. I guess if I lived then, I could have more authority on stuff that I’m interested in, like: “I was there, and I’ll tell you about it.”