Friday, 23 January 2015

ARTIST + PRINTMAKER DAMON KOWARSKY





“I started as a classical musician but it seemed the artists were always cooler. There was also the issue of portability – I played tuba. Art travels well. It is also more solitary and self-contained. We absorb so much of the world through our eyes. I wanted to be part of that conversation.”

Melbourne-based artist Damon Kowarsky has not only established himself as an artist, but he has managed to travel the world extensively in the process too. He has taught drawing in Lahore and printmaking in Karachi - both in Pakistan, and he held a residency in China in 2014. But it was when Damon won a Toyota Community Spirit Artist Travel Award in 2009, allowing him to travel to Cairo and New York, that he felt he was making inroads with his art-making. “Building a career is a gradual process though,” Damon says. “And there have been many, many steps along the way - a solo show, a commission, a grant or award that have made the difference and allowed me to continue making art full time.”

Damon, who is currently in Oman on a residency, studied printmaking at the Victorian College of the Arts and Glasgow School of Art and completed Advanced Figure Drawing at RMIT University. He has also worked as a courtroom and archaeological illustrator, and assisted on digs in Egypt. An extensive collaborator, his work can be seen alongside Kyoko Imazu’s in the form of murals in Aesop stores in Sydney, Melbourne, Tokyo and Hong Kong. "The best collaborations seem to need humour, a certain healthy direspect for the other person's work - politeness never makes for a good conversation - and a solid work commitment," he says.

Damon also exhibits through Otomys

Which five words best describe you? Determined, curious, restless, focussed and obsessed. 

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? While a career in the arts is largely self-driven there have been a lot of people along the way who have stepped in to make things possible. The key moment was probably when David Salter let me work in the print studio of the local TAFE in the year after I graduated from art school. A lot of people drop out in the first year. It can be a lonely time.

Those three months back at TAFE led to volunteering at Museum Victoria, led to working on an archaeological dig in Egypt, led to my first residency at Townhouse Gallery Cairo, led to the APW Collie Scholarship, led to…

But my primary focus has always been making work. Making pictures. Looking at the world and reflecting it back in an image.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way?
1. Don’t take no for an answer. There is always another way around.
2. Be prepared to do it yourself. No one has as much passion for your projects as you.
3. Build a network of friends and colleagues to work with and support.

What’s your proudest career achievement? To be making art full time. To have a network of friends and colleagues all around the world. To be able to call on this network but also to offer support to younger and emerging artists. Everything in art is always being handed on.

What’s been your best decision? To do this full time. To make things happen you have to put in the hours, but the rewards are amazing.

What are you passionate about? Art, travel, architecture, excellent design. Julie Forrester's amazing mango kasundi.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? The really good ones you half know through their works or writings anyway. I'd love to sit at a dinner table with Clive James or Gore Vidal and listen to them talk. Robert Fisk, but again to listen.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I'd love to spend six months living in New York. I'd love to visit Paris again for the first time in 25 years. I'd love to set up a printmaking studio in Melbourne.

What are you reading? I'm working my way through Salman Rushdie's back catalogue. At the moment I'm reading a certain rather notorious 1988 novel. So far it's good, but nowhere near as excellent as Shalimar the Clown.

images courtesy of damon kowarsky and otomys; portrait malcolm hutcheson




Wednesday, 21 January 2015

ARCHITECT PAUL MORGAN








The latest architectural release from German publishing house Taschen, Cabins, features four Australian projects, including Trunk House by Paul Morgan. The 63 square metre house in Victoria’s Central Highlands was completed in 2011 and was designed to co-exist with the surrounding Stringbark forest. Minimising the cabin’s eco footprint was at the forefront of the mind of the Melbourne-based architect who had a mobile milling machine delivered to the building site so that Stringybark timber could be milled on the spot to produce lining boards for the structure. Paul has worked as an architect for more than 20 years, and has run his own practice Paul Morgan Architects since 2003. 

There are 61 cabins from around the world that feature in the book Cabins, which includes illustrations on all the projects by Marie-Laure Cruschi. A selection of images above by Melbourne photographer Peter Bennetts are in the book.

Which five words best describe you? Dreamer, writer, internal, diver, collaborator.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started my practice with no clients and no capital, just an attitude. With a former business partner we secured some work on a bid for Melbourne’s Docklands, as well as a university lecture theatre. Since then we have completed over 90 uni and TAFE projects, some houses and exhibited at the Venice Biennale.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Just when you think you’ve “made it”, a fall is always around the corner.

What’s your proudest career achievement? In 2007 the practice was awarded the national Robin Boyd Award for Residential Buildings by the Australian Institute of Architects for the Cape Schanck House.

What’s been your best decision? To start a practice with no clients and no capital.

Who inspires you? My partner, Jo Scicluna, an artist and educator and daughter Lola.

What are you passionate about? Ecological design and late 60s and early 70s film, cars, design: maybe a combination of the above.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Neil Armstrong.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To design more houses.

What are you reading? Life and fate by Vasily Grossman.

images courtesy of paul morgan and taschen; photography (trunk house) peter bennetts

CERAMICIST ALEX STANDEN






Alex Standen’s story highlights the value of awards and grants in the Australian arts. A year after the ceramicist completed her studies in 2011 at The National Art School in Sydney she won the Sidney Myer Fund through the Shepparton Regional Art Museum. “The promotion though the museum alone was astounding and gave me the confidence to make larger and more exciting projects,” she says. As part of the award Alex held a solo show at the museum and was given the opportunity to talk about her work at a forum and teach a master class. “Ever since this award I have kept the momentum up and have felt like I am on the right path,” she says.

Almost from the start, she was given representation by the gallery MCLEMOI, and has exhibited at Sabbia Gallery in Sydney. In 2013 Alex was awarded the Australia Council Art Start Grant, and she has held residencies in Israel, England and Paris too. Over the past three years Alex has maintained a ceramic studio at Sturt Craft Centre in Mittagong, NSW where she taught classes and worked as a technician. During this time she has made regular trips to a remote Aboriginal community in the Northern Territories to help artists produce large ceramic vessels. Alex has also assisted artists such as Ben Quilty, developing a range of ceramic jugs using plaster moulds and slip cast forms to create editions of his art works. Some of her own wares are sold through Small Spaces in Redfern.

Which five words best describes you? Wide eyed, driven, thoughtful, patiently impatient, searching.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? A conversation with an amazing teacher - now a good friend - from the ceramics department at The National Art School led me into the endless possibilities associated with clay. In 2008 I started art school thinking I would become a painter but instead became intrigued with pure white porcelain and the responsive nature of clay. After four years of studying I was lucky enough to be picked up by a gallery in Sydney and was able to start making a career from my art practice straight away. I entered awards and art prizes that gave me the opportunity to show my work in different galleries and museums around Australia. From this starting point my work has matured and I continue to push myself out of my comfort zone to keep everything interesting and inspiring. I have been very lucky in many ways that I can make art my full-time job.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Always keep making, working, creating and you will find what you are looking for even if it seems a bit hopeless or you are unsure of the direction the work is going in. Don't get impatient and open your kiln too early, that lesson I have had to remind myself of a few times over the years. I have to tell myself to slow down sometimes and just take everything in, appreciate those around me and be kind.  

What’s your proudest career achievement? I want to say I am still waiting for that single moment of pride, that big award or prize that tells me ‘‘I have made it’’ but with a lot of thought I actually feel very proud of all the work I make. The little discoveries or technical breakthroughs in my ceramic practice are what keep me going. I feel very proud and humbled when I put my work into an exhibition and receive amazing feedback from people who know and love me as well as people who have never met me.  

What’s been your best decision? To develop a career in the arts after art school. Like so many art students I came out into the big wide world thinking “now what?”. I felt like I was taking my first steps and it was not without support that I launched into a studio-based art practice and made this my life. The decision to travel this year and undertake residences overseas was a huge step for me because it meant giving up my beautiful, secure studio in the Southern Highlands, which I have been in since graduating in 2011. I lived in Tel Aviv, London, Hanover and Paris and I met the most incredible, like-minded and passionate artists as well as pushed my abilities as a ceramicist.    

Who inspires you? Friends and family inspire me more than they know. I have a lot of friends who are also young artists facing the same challenges and developing a practice in different creative fields. All are passionate, generous, thoughtful and kind and they inspire me daily. 

What are you passionate about? Travel and art, the two work so well together and I have learnt so much in my short career as an artist because I have traveled. As a young Australian artist I have travelled to remote Aboriginal communities which has been life-changing and deeply affecting.  
      
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? This is a tricky one because you never want to shatter the untainted perception of someone you admire but I guess I would love to meet Sally Gabori. I simply love her work and to know the woman behind those paintings would be a beautiful thing.  

What dream do you still want to fulfil? There are always those things you want, a bigger studio, international representation, huge exhibitions with lots of sales but I am happy right now. I have just come back to Sydney from travelling all year, I moved into a lovely house with friends and a great studio with so much natural light. I know that I will always move forward and achieve those big goals throughout my career because I enjoy what I do and I have such a great support system.  

What are you reading? The last of the nomads by W J Peasley. Every Australian should read this book. 

images courtesy of alex standen





Tuesday, 20 January 2015

ARTIST LINDSAY BLAMEY







Growing up in rural Australia and having a father who was passionate about photography played a big role in the life and work of Lindsay Blamey. The Melbourne-based artist creates fine art photographs that have a painterly quality. “I rarely stage my photographs, including the people I use,” Lindsay says. “My fine art works are made from photographs I take of ordinary objects that in the right light, at the right time, I find extraordinary. They’re generally from significant markers in my life such as my childhood.” Lindsay also creates more contemporary works using digital processes that incorporate scanned images of pieces found in vintage shops and markets. A series of contemporary landscapes called “Free Ways” are now exhibited online through Otomys

Which five words best describe you? Creative, patient, emotive, father, dreamer.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? A desire to create images has been a constant in my life. This stems from my father always having a camera in his hand which would lead to our family’s famous “slide nights”. My first real job was as a printing machinist, which trained and developed my eye and knowledge of colour. The progression from here was into visual communication, and this improved my understanding of visual symmetry. It’s been a natural progression to combine these skills into my art which was bubbling away under the surface. The support of family and friends and their encouragement to pursue my dreams has allowed it to become a reality. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Life’s too short to idle. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? Coming from a farm on the outskirts of a small country town having my work collected worldwide and featured in homes designed by some of Australia’s leading interior designers is very rewarding and quite humbling. However, I would say that fundamentally, I’m proud to have my children be proud of my work and, in turn, open a door to the creative world for them.

What’s been your best decision? To follow my instinct. Once I changed my perception from wanting to be an artist to actually being an artist things started to fall in place.

Who inspires you? My wife and children; my father and his photographs; rural childhood memories; the colours of nature; sunrise and twilight. Artists such as Andreas Gursky, Alex Prager, Jeffrey Smart, Hitchcock, Charles Blackman, Ansel Adams, Gregory Crewdson, Thom Yorke and Andy Goldsworthy - just to name a few - continue to inspire me.

What are you passionate about? I’m passionate about most things that enrich the senses: art, music, design. I can step into the NGV or NGA and become completely overwhelmed and awestruck. It always reignites my passion and creativity.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Rosalie Gascoigne.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? A road trip with a camera through Arizona and surrounds.

What are you reading? Being a visual person I don’t read as much as look at the pictures. Erwin Olaf Volume II and Where’s Wally.

images courtesy of lindsay blamey

Monday, 19 January 2015

STYLIST JESSICA HANSON






Jessica Hanson is one of Australia’s leading Australian editorial stylists. She is style editor for Inside Out magazine, and also freelances for a range of advertising clients, including Utopia Goods and Plyroom. There is a level of thoughtfulness and thoroughness in her work that is often the hallmark of someone who has studied at the Design Centre Enmore, which she did before assisting and working her way up the ranks at Australian House & Garden magazine. During that time she was promoted to senior stylist, and towards the end of her five-and-a-half year tenure Jessica was approached to become part of the team that was to revamp Inside Out.  

Which five words best describe you? Sensitive, focused, organised, creative, quiet - also persistent and perfectionist.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I studied interior decoration and design at the Design Centre Enmore. Having discovered there was such a thing as magazine styling, I started assisting a stylist a day a week most weeks during my last year. After the course finished, I emailed lots of interior magazines and top stylists for further assistance work, and continued to assist for the next few months. Soon after, timing was on my side and I was lucky enough to be offered a temporary styling position at Australian House & Garden magazine, covering for their in-house stylist while she was away on her honeymoon. I was completely thrown in the deep end, having to produce and style one of their shopping features - my first ever photoshoot. Two weeks later, the stylist came back from holiday, and I was asked to stay on for a few more weeks, and then indefinitely, and I gradually worked my way up to the senior stylist position during a period of over five and a half years. At about that time, I was approached by another interiors magazine for a maternity cover styling role and I jumped at the chance. The role was a step down, but I was excited for the change and very happy to accept the job. Luckily for me, the stylist I was covering decided not to come back on staff, and I was asked to stay on. And soon after, I was promoted to a higher role. A few years on, I am still styling for Inside Out magazine part time, as style editor, and have recently ventured into freelance styling also. 

What's the best lesson you've learnt along the way? To be open, especially to change if things don’t go to plan. A lot of the time things don’t go the way you want: something that you’ve sourced may not available, or not arrive in time for the shoot, and often I’ll have to change the direction slightly, otherwise known as plan B. 

What's your proudest career achievement? Styling for Inside Out - starting out, this was my absolute dream goal - and now getting to enjoy what I do everyday. 

What's been your best decision? To pursue the interior publications that I’ve been fortunate enough to work for. 

Who inspires you? Stylists, photographers, artists, designers, close friends and family, and always my partner Christopher Miles

What are you passionate about? Creating, collaboration, producing good work, interiors, interior product and hand-crafted objects. 

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Looking forward to starting a family and I can’t wait to meet my first little one in June.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To live in New York.

What are you reading? I read pretty pictures, more than words. I was given Setting the scene - exploring set design for Christmas, a compilation of stunning set designs for photography. And I keep going back to OK - Omin Kasin by Susanna Vento and Riikka Kantinkoski, a Scandinavian interior design and DIY book that’s beautifully styled and a great inspiration. 

images courtesy of jessica hanson (styling); photography: sam mcadam-cooper, craig wall, amanda prior, craig wall, christopher miles (portrait) 



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