Describe your work in five words.
Documentation of human/nature relationship
What are you working on now?
I am currently working on a series of etchings based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, The Murders in the Rue Morgue as part of an Australian Print Workshop Scholarship.
work in progress at the Australian Print Workshop
And I have been working a series of sculptures for Karen Woodbury Gallery, based on the palm lines of a particular chimpanzee that I worked with, and it’s called lifeline. It’s been a very complicated process what I am trying to do is extract those lines through a digital process and turn them into three-dimensional objects so these works will be quite abstract pieces but based on this individual line / palmistry of one ape. Was that while you were in Borneo? No it was from a zoo in Atlanta. It has been interesting as it is technically challenging but we’re getting somewhere. I think it will be quite an interesting work that fits both in my practice but is also going in a different direction as well. What type of materials will you be using? Not sure. I haven’t worked that out yet – I’m still working on the technical side of it... it could be bronze.
And the third project? I am working on finishing off a series of monkeys [sculptures], which are based on putting together pieces of information that I have been collecting at the Melbourne Museum and other research - of extinct and near extinct monkeys. I have already made three and there are three more to do.
Melbourne Museum archives
Grizzle Face Langure 2009 (shown at the 2010 Melbourne Art Fair)
Who / what inspires you to keep making your work?
That’s a really good question. Every time I stop I want to start again. So it’s always good to stop to get that feeling of desire to do it again. It’s just a necessity I have been making art since I was a teenager. I don’t know how to do anything else to be honest! I think when you make art it isn’t necessarily for a tangible reason but rather a physical thing.
I do see things that really inspire me. I really love the documentary work of Werner Herzog. Every time I see one of his documentaries I get really inspired. I feel like he is totally on the same wavelength as what I am doing with what he is doing with his docos and his weird dark sense of humour.
Tell me about your background. What path led you to become an artist?
My mother and father used to collect art and they always liked to show me art. My mum used to take me to a lot of galleries and my father used to take me to museums. So it was in our family, an interest in art. It really came down to an art teacher who encouraged me to take it more seriously and she basically pushed me into going to art school. I did want to study some kind of science like zoology but I did badly in physics at school stopping any further education in science. It’s amazing you can end up doing what you want to do in a roundabout way? My stepmother gave me about a year or so ago this IQ test they had done on me when I was about 11 (roughly 1978) and it said I should do something that’s in between art and science. I don’t agree with those tests but isn’t that bazaar? The things it said about me were so true. I’ve got this really selective interest path and I show no interest in general knowledge or Hollywood stars names, etc and I can be quite focused, I suppose.
What does a typical day in the studio involve?
A typical day in the studio involves basically just turning on my CD’s getting into it. I tune in quite quickly to what I am working on. I have to go across town a lot for foundry and production so there’s quite a bit of that and I also go to the zoos and museums so there’s a crossing of being in the studio and research. How often would you go to the zoo or museum? Quite often depending on where I am at with a project I would spend half a day. Sometimes I would do the whole week of just research if I’ve got something.
ham (astro chimp) #40, 2010
(part of an ongoing series available from Karen Woodbury Gallery)
What is your dream project?
I want to do big big big works! I was shortlisted for a commission in Sydney, which unfortunately I didn’t get but it was my dream project with a huge budget. The work I proposed was two very large bronze chimpanzee hands where people could walk through them. I would love to do a really large bronze work - like seven metre high.
If you could live with any artwork ever made what would it be?