Exposure to international art in London and Europe, in the early eighties, encouraged me to pursue my career as an artist. One defining moment was experienced at the Tate Gallery in London, 1981. In a gallery space devoted to Mark Rothko, the American abstract expressionist, I experienced the depth of and commitment in his work. The exhibition moved me to tears, and provided a level of inspiration that I had not experienced until that point. Another Rothko piece (from a different period), seen several years later while visiting the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia, filled me with the same feeling of understanding.
I think it’s a great journey and I’ve been immensely nourished and continue to be nourished through my own practice as a meditator and one who is involved in my own sense of personal growth. This is also as I mentioned supported by my art practice, where I see the necessity to create art that is essentially silent at its core, suggesting a certain meditative quality in its very being. Not all artworks are capable of having this essence, however the intention is there with every work that I create.
From those early days of making these wall based assemblages, the whole process orientation took shape which was to guide me through many twists and turns in my creativity, which had me exploring many mediums in the found object genre including sculpture, installation, public art, digital printing and a return to painting.
This also has correlation with mankind today on some levels, as we see that those people who live reasonably affluent lives, are generally more inclined to appreciate art and are more likely the kind of people who do not wish to live without art. It seems all through history it has been like this, with the more wealthy elements in our society appreciating and fostering artistic endeavours.
Your work in the studio is something completely different. The success that you have with the work that you create in your studio will stand alone by itself, you will either have successful breakthroughs which will make your work stand out or not; only time will tell. However, to get your work out there into galleries, in front of the general public and collectors, will need you to in some way, develop a systematic approach and to develop a systematic approach you will need an action plan.
You must remember that everything in life happens in cycles. You will have highs and lows in your career. Successful individuals are the ones who persevere and don’t get swallowed up by any negativity that the lows can bring.
I can tell you many stories of my own experience with this, having also gone into the cycle of using one credit card to prop up repayments on another one, etc. etc. It’s very easy to get caught up in this kind of behaviour, especially when credit is so easy to attain and if you are going through a lean period with sales.
You need to understand that when you are standing in front of an audience delivering a lecture, making a public speaking engagement, you are selling whatever it is you’re speaking about. You don’t want people to get up and walk out after five minutes, so bearing that in mind, you want them to buy what it is that you are selling or talking about.
In one sense your topic is already defined. How do you make yourself unique given that the above is true? It is important to remember that whether you’re an artist, a student, a bureaucrat in the arts industry, everyone has their own unique story to tell, this is simply because everyone is different and has had different life experiences that brings them to the point where they are in their lives. That said, everybody is in a unique situation when they have to define their topic. In the following few sentences, I am going to be giving you a quick rundown on simple direct ways to define your topic.
Five most common ways to get your topic.
One. It is assigned to you. Someone gives it to you and you talk about it.
Two. It is your passion.
Three. It is based on your knowledge. Do the research. This is important.
Four. It is based on your skill.
Five. It is based on your desire to learn more about a topic.
When you are defining your topic, give it wings.
You can find your own metaphors, which serve your speaking engagement best. Once you have these in place you can weave the stories into a few as an introduction. This is called stacking. It’s a very effective way of bringing messages home and engaging your audience right from the outset. I might begin a lecture for example, using the metaphor about the “X” factor, followed on shortly afterwards via the “Fast track highway to success”, just to really strengthen the message that I’m trying to convey.
As an artist giving a public presentation such as public speaking engagement, I have been aware from the onset that it wouldn’t impress anyone if I had arrived on the stage looking slouchy. So rather than turning up in my paint-splattered overalls just to make a point, I do quite the opposite.
The unbreakable law of professional speaking is: If you do not know the purpose of your message, no one else will.??
Also remember your physicality is a very important aspect of public speaking, it doesn’t matter what level of public speaking you are engaging in.??
Your look defines you. Market yourself correctly. Dress for success.??
There are other techniques you can also use during the course of a public speaking lecture. There is a technique called ‘Pattern interrupted’ which is like what I suggested above with the: sh sh sh sh sh…. or you can completely change the subject by going: “Can you smell that? Is that popcorn?“– This is a good example.
Public speaking essentially is about the “Art of speaking”. Muscles control your voice. You must warm up the muscles before you exercise, we may strain or damage them. Keep this in mind because it’s a very, very good way to start a lecture or to start any form of public presentation.
I do this so that I can head them off at the pass so to speak. In doing so I am able to safeguard the work to a large degree by thinking ahead and designing and protecting the work so that any potential vandalism can be kept to a minimum.
If you live in a town or suburb where there are only two or three newspapers or magazines, pitch to your favourite one or at least to the newspaper and the magazine which you feel will best suit your ends. Make a connection with the editor if possible and let them know that you won’t be sending the same information out to their competition. If you do this you’re more likely to have a published verbatim alongside the excellent quality photograph you submit along with the media release.
This sculpture was made from the trunk and root ball of a Camphor Laurel tree and, was made over a 2-year period between 2008 and mid 2010. It began with my receiving a call from a local eco farmer who knew my work. He told me he had a gift for me if I wanted it. I could do what I liked with it.
It is not necessary for all artists to have to experience such a dramatic incident as having a fire in a studio to bring about a major change in their outlook on life. Some artists instinctively do this simply in the process of their work in the studio. This is just how it happened from there and it left an indelible imprint, which has continued to this day.