How to be a Successful Artist

Interviews about John Dahlsen’s Environmental Artwork 13b

Dahlsen has collected his “found” material all along the northern NSW coastline, a latter-day beachcomber. “I’ve even been to South Stradbroke Island, where I was artist in residence at Couran Cove at one stage,” he says.
“I walked up and down the 17km of beach there, and over a couple of weeks collected 70 or 80 jumbo garbage bags full of things that had washed up on the shore.”

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Interviews about John Dahlsen’s Environmental Artwork 12a

During the latter part of 2005 and into 2006, I created a new body of environmental artwork, a series of Synthetic Polymer paintings on Belgian linen, based on the subject matter of plastic “purges” – plastic fabricator machine end waste. ??This work, considers cycles and recycling. I began re-presenting paintings of sculptures that are inherently plastic fabricator machine end waste. The use of plastic materials and their place in the evolutionary motions of recycling are important to me in constructing these images.
I see the real need for the massive social transformations that are essential, to adequately deal with such crises as the depletion of fossil fuels and climate change. I hope this work can be a timely reminder to us all of the limited supply of these petroleum based materials, which is a direct result of our current collective global mass consumerism.

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Interviews about John Dahlsen’s Environmental Artwork 6

When he first started, he stumbled upon vast amounts of plastic ocean debris, collecting them in 80 jumbo garden bags full of beach-found litter. “When I first piled this collection up in my studio, I had friends drop by asking if I was okay!” he adds.
John didn’t see a giant mound of trash – rather, his unseen intelligence was at work. He saw a giant painter’s palate of colours and shapes, hues and forms: selections of yellow coloured plastics, the red, then the blues, the rope and strings, the plastic coke bottles, the thongs… the list goes on.
“As I worked with these objects, I became even more fascinated by the way they had been modified and weathered by the ocean and nature’s elements,” says Mr Dahlsen.

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Interviews about John Dahlsen’s Environmental Artwork 2

For over ten years Dahlsen has been creating his environmental assemblage art and has garnered much recognition. He holds regular solo and group exhibitions throughout Australia, Europe and the United States.

In 2000, he won the prestigious Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW and was selected to be a cultural ambassador and represent Australia at the Athens Olympics of the Visual Arts “Artiade” Exhibition 2004.

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Statements About John Dahlsen’s Environmental Artwork 2

One can picture Dahlsen as this peculiarly animated creature bobbing up and down along the beach collecting, sorting and imagining, then leaving with the spoils to construct another day.

The artist mimics the activities of sea birds as they go about their existence jabbing, picking, chasing and prying. The work is physically demanding; so much to see and collect!

Dahlsen’s work is alchemical in that found objects are transformed from the mundane to the extraordinary and mystical. In between is the artist’s aesthetic intuition and determined will. He encourages us to see beauty in the ordinary.

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Environmental art interview 5

What role do you think art plays in prompting public dialogue about all those things?
I think art can play a significant role in this kind of dialogue. Art really has a place to be an informer. All the way through history, artists have been at the forefront of responding to contemporary issues in society and being a bit like beacons for the general public, for society at large.

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See John Dahlsen’s Recent Works

Environmental Art by John Dahlsen


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