+1 ::: When did
you first realize that you were an artist?
In Australian society, which is largely
homogenous and suburban, artists are unvalued
unless they are materially successful.
So accepting that one is an artist, and
embracing it as I did, when I was
in my teens is really something
of an emotionally fraught experience.
That said, from when I was a very small
child, I can't remember a time when I
wasn't painting or drawing or seeing.
My earliest memories are related to art
- for example, I remember the exact moment,
at four, that I understood perspective
in drawing or the first time I consciously
held a pencil in a different way to achieve
an effect with line.
::: Could you tell us some more about
My early works were large, graphic, and
highly structured, and produced mainly
with enamel on canvas (and, later, on
board). They were inspired by a desire
to confront the increasing commodification
of art with stereotypical depictions of
women derived from advertising and entertainment.
It was a kind of glossy 'anti-art'
colorful, imposing, and yet devoid of
emotional engagement. It underscored art's
somewhat uncomfortable relationship with
today's hyper-mediated consumer society.
My new work is very different. I like
to think it embraces the primal impulses
of art. It adheres to the figurative but
with a freer, more expressionistic exploration
of line and color. The most recent work
has been with watercolor, pencil and ink
on cold-pressed paper, and reflects my
intense curiosity about African and Carribean
voodoo. A lot of the new imagery is also
punctuated by diaristic texts, poems and
+3 ::: You use
yourself as the subject for a lot of your
work. Why is that?
It's kind of forensic, I guess. I study
my self, my psyche. There is also a preoccupation
with my physicality, with both its grace
and decay, and this is a thematic constant
in a lot of female artists' work from
Kahlo to Cindy Sherman, Tracy Moffat
for me, remains subjective not
objective, as so many conceptual artists,
Koons to Damien
Hirst, would have it these days
and its elemental preoccupation must be
about expressing highly personal dilemmas,
conflicts, contradictions, obsessions,
+4 ::: What artists
have influenced you, and how?
In my late teens it was all the artists
I've just mentioned, but I became very
disillusioned with them all - except Kahlo
- when it became apparent that much of
their focus was actually on celebrity
rather than on art. The accomplishments
of so many artists these days have reflected
a triumph of consumerism over art. Their
success is as reliant on message, positioning
and timing as any corporate marketing
strategy: it's art as commodity, artist
+5 ::: What other
interests do you have (besides painting)?
In relation to my work, I am beginning
to experiment with a lot of other media,
including photography and film, while
continuing to expand my technical abilities
as a painter and draughtsman. I am, by
upbringing, nomadic, so I spend a deal
of time traveling, mainly in search of
ideas, new directions, and materials,
but also as part of an autodidactic regimen
I've followed since I was a kid. In relation
to my personal life, its much simpler:
I am learning to surf, and I am in the
middle of my first real love affair: its
extraordinary how much time passes just
hanging out, talking to my man and having
+6 ::: What inspires
you to paint and how do you keep motivated
when things get tough in the studio?
Art saves me. It's far more than a career,
it's an obsession. I gave up a lot from
a young age to forge the reputation I've
got now, which enables me to have the
time and money and space!
to make art and keep making it. I don't
think it's ever that tough because art
is, for me, essential, like breathing
+7 ::: How have
you handled the business side of being
My generation has an advantage: it's the
first to have globally networked electronic
media at its disposal. Still, exploiting
these is about more than building a web
site and creating an email list. I use
software for client relationship and inventory
management, and I subscribe to online
services that track prices for my
and my peers' old and new work.
Email encourages frequency and depth in
my communication with collectors and curators,
and I am able to coordinate exhibitions
of my work in two or three countries simultaneously,
and have direct contact with local gallerists
and the press.
operate as both an individual and a virtual
corporation an evolution of Warhol's
idea of the artist's studio as a factory
and the functions of each are discrete.
As an individual, I make the art I want.
As a corporation, I shift product and
market my brand.
+8 ::: Where
do you see yourself in 10 years?
The answer to this, for an artist, is
always in the work. The trouble is, it's
impossible to imagine the work I will
be doing a decade from now. I want to
continue to be frenetically busy, successful,
happy but, above all, absorbed!
+9 ::: Could
you talk about your latest series of paintings
and what you are trying to achieve with
I had always thought of my earlier paintings
as being little more than slick, ironic,
but easy-to-deal-with veneers, and it
began to trouble me more. Suddenly I wanted
to strip away the glossy facade, to tear
away the surface and reveal whatever was
underneath. I wanted my work to be more
honest and confronting, less reassuring
to the viewer. So I allowed myself to
tap in to my subconscious, into my troubled
psyche, and let it rip. Now, it's like
I've exposed all that was previously obscured
or stifled or imprisoned. Those seamless,
glossy expanses of my early paintings,
acted as a kind of barrier between the
viewer and me not anymore. My new
works on paper are all about drawing the
viewer in, to compel them to 'read'.
came to the themes derived from the syncretic
mixture of Catholicism and ancient African
ritual in voodoo, santeria and candomblé
because I was researching primitive cleansing
rituals, and ideas related to releasing
or cleansing the soul within. My curiosity
was piqued by a simple line in a voodoo
incantation: houn djo mi ta, 'the spirit
that dances in one's head'. I wanted to
free myself of an imperfect past, and
of a sense of having been possessed -
by bad choices, addiction, and disparate
other very human mistakes.
+10 ::: What
advice would you give to an artist just
Develop your skills. When Marcel
Duchamp turned a urinal upside down,
signed it R. Mutt, and exhibited it as
'found art' in 1917, it was revolutionary.
Not anymore. The old, late '70s punk ethos
of artlessness of playing and singing
badly, sampling randomly, and making ineptly
is no longer provocative. The new
punk is about raw skill and having something
powerful to say. It's about subjectivity,
of re-emphasizing the direct relationship
between an artist's interior world and
the individual work, and about the value
of an artwork being determined by the
skill with which the artist conveys that
relationship to the viewer. The purely
conceptual is not enough.