My entrée into environmental artwork was not my first shift in media and style. I began my artistic life as a figurative painter, attracted to that form of expression for its narrative qualities. During art school I had moved from figurative paintings to more abstract work.
My art school days were exciting right from the start. I met many amazing people, both students and lecturers. I created deep friendships and as fate would have it, I ended up in a five-year tumultuous relationship with the very same young woman that I met in the cafe the year before. Her name was Barbara and she was beautiful. Just what a young man fresh out of the confines of a four-year stint at an all boys boarding school needed.
My teenage years were mostly centered on my various infatuations with girls and my adventures with my friends on surfing safaris, or surfaris as we called them. I imagine this connection with the ocean, which I developed as a child, later had a strong impact upon the type of art I would end up creating.
As a young artist, I was fortunate enough to interact with many people who played a significant role in shaping the Australian contemporary art world.
Although one of my favourite places to exhibit is in New York, I also love to show in many places on the international stage. I’ve been accustomed to exhibiting my art in many places other than my home country Australia, because of a number of reasons. I believe the primary reason is because of my work being different from standard practice.
I have learned that the main reason that I have ever experienced any misunderstanding in China was simply because of the issue of face.
Exhibiting in China comes with a necessity to learn what is known as the “Chinese way”. This is the way that has been taught to me by a very good friend of mine who is a Chinese businessman.
I was on a bit of a mission because I had seen a certain type of driftwood stick that was washed up and down the coast around that area, which was really suitable for me to use as framing for some of my assemblages, so I really wanted to gather as many as possible.
My work with driftwood assemblages and sculptures began in 1998 and has continues to be a major part of my creative output. An article described these driftwood assemblages, which I exhibited in a solo show in Australia in early 2004, as having been created with: “A sheer depth and determination…Including, death-defying moments grabbing the perfect piece of wood.”
Research the gallery, find out who is the director, and write a letter of introduction with details about your website, if you have one, and include a CD, though these days I think it’s preferable to send some good quality photographs as well.
One of the first things that I’d recommend for an artist when they’re contacting a gallery for the first time is to never do it cold.
In presenting to the community my rationale behind the recycled sculptural piece “The Guardian”, beginning with the briefing notes that this large-scale work was to use road infrastructure, that would otherwise be discarded which needed to be robust to be set in trees by the highway and to be highly visible in this location and also lit at night.
This particular work was in response to a brief from the Brisbane City Council, who decided that a public artwork would be appropriate for the entrance to Kangaroo Point, which is a small suburb in inner-city Brisbane. It was to receive a new traffic intersection and entrance without the traffic lights, that had been slowing down this particular entrance for a number of years.
The ‘Absolut Dahlsen’ commission was a really wonderful experience, mainly due to the team I was working with throughout the whole project. This included the executives from Absolut who worked with me most surprisingly, in a very lateral manner. This really helped keep an exciting flavour from the beginning through to its completion.
The answer to this would have to involve my public art projects.
In terms of their success, I would most likely look towards two larger ones as being standouts. In this regard the ‘Absolut Dahlsen’ commission alongside the ‘Guardian’ commission are the two of my most favourite projects.
By presenting this art, to the public it will hopefully have people thinking about the deeper meaning of the work, in particular the environmental issues we currently face.
My creative medium shifted from abstract painting to working as an environmental artist, as a result of an artistic accident during the mid 1990’s. I was collecting driftwood, on a remote Victorian Coastline, with the intention of making furniture and stumbled upon vast amounts of plastic ocean debris.
I’ve always loved the ocean since I was a boy. My mum and dad used to take us kids to the beach each weekend to enjoy swimming in the ocean walking along the beach and just generally exploring. We used to go to very remote locations because my dad is a bit of an adventurer, and later in my life this became something that was very inherent in my system.
We don’t need to revert to becoming cavemen again, however we do need to safeguard our future by planning to become more natural in every way. This will be the future of our cities, where all of our freshwater is captured from the buildings and our electricity will be generated from renewable sources such as solar and wind.
There is a fine line between pestering and simply being professional and following up. In my experience some of the best media coverage that I have had has come about through my providing a professional and detailed media release. That’s the first step. Following up on this is crucial, even just to find out whether the editor has received the press release that you have prepared.