DESCRIBE YOUR IDEAL WORKSPACE IN THREE WORDS…
I. Have. It!
Although, the caveat on this is it is too full with stuff, since I have just relocated to Italia!
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN?
Do what you love, love what you do, and the money will follow.” Reg Bolton (RIP), in 1996, gave both Melissa and I this advise, and a week later we had both quit our day jobs and together pursued our creative passions.
WHERE DID YOU FIND THE COURAGE TO FOLLOW YOUR OWN PATH?
I am fortunate enough to have had many people encourage me. Wendy Wise, former general manager of ArtsWA, once took me out to lunch and asked me why I had not had a solo exhibition yet. Sandra Krempl, general manager of CanWA, encouraged me to apply for funding to hire a space and print a catalogue for that first solo show in 1999. My friends, Carol and Derek Fee, were always helping their son Jason and I set up exhibitions and driving us to events, from 1986 onwards, in Wales and across the country– to things like “Street Art 89” in Bridlington.
But my single most consistent support and cheerleader from the day I met her has been Melissa. She has never stopped believing in me, even when, on many occasions, I haven’t believed in myself. She has always given me courage! Before I met her, I had almost literally and metaphorically painted myself into a corner; a creative life had left me homeless and very lost, and I felt I was becoming less visible. But she saw me and that made all the difference. It still does…
WHAT IS THE MOST PRODUCTIVE PRACTICAL TIP YOU COULD IMPART TO A FELLOW CREATIVE?
Work hard! Whatever you do, don’t stop. Be prolific. Of course, you need time to think, but thinking without doing is a waste of time.
WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR 18-YEAR-OLD SELF?
This is going to be difficult but not impossible. You will make a life that you will love.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO CENTRE YOURSELF AND FIND FOCUS?
Draw! Always, the things I see, the things I think… A sketchbook/journal of places, things, thoughts is very important in making a creative headspace– making mistakes you can learn from, and providing myself with a document I can reflect on that will provide reference.
DOES THE SPACE YOU WORK IN HAVE AN INTERESTING STORY?
For a short while, it was the Stuart St. Art Gallery; many years prior to that, a panel beater and spray painters workshop. So, its history is well aligned to my work. It was also empty and abandoned for a while.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN THE SPACE?
That it fairly well represents me. It has my sense of style: it’s industrial in structure, has many elements of found object, and an eclectic collection of friends’ work. But it is also purposeful and utilitarian.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD?
Changing. Where the studio is has always been a mix of people, workers, and recreationists. It’s been good for the last ten or so years, but the proliferation of drugs is having a detrimental impact, particularly for the older residents. It’s a shame, because it’s a nice area on the edge of the nightclub district, so there was always the sounds of people making their way home or going out for the evening. But the drugs have changed those people. Drugs are unkind.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?
I have a dream project to create for an organisation called FORM– it’s a painting project– all works of canvas and perhaps some found objects. A series of works, a story, a tale without words… It will be shown next year and a book printed with it!
WHAT IS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT ARTISTS’ TOOL?
The mind. People have always made marks on things, made pictures, told stories… But the ability to see, process, think, and translate that all come from within the mind; this is always where the work begins.
WHAT’S THE ONE PRACTICE THAT HAS CHANGED YOUR LIFE THE MOST? MEDITATION, RUNNING, WRITING, ETC.
It always comes back to drawing for me: it encompasses all those examples, it’s meditative, its flow is like when you are really into running and have that cadence you can feel power through. It is writing a whole story whilst creating an image– a metaphorical body of work.