As you may have been reading, we’re running our special feature this week on a very cool bunch of female artists who are participating in the Fibre Femmes exhibition in Prahran this week – we felt like doing something different, and running this special feature as a test for many more to come – and we really couldn’t be happier with both the response as well as having had the chance to interview all the artists involved!
Next off the mark in our feature, is the wonderful work of Baby Guerilla – a fresh face in the Melbourne street art scene, her work is already garnering a lot of talk and hype, with her illustrative women adorning many a wall. Having regularly exhibited her work for some time since graduating from fine arts, BG has immersed herself into her street art work, and the results have been wonderous.
In this third part to our feature, we talked to BG about her work outside of the streets, her recent trip to China and the art scene there, the recent Ladie Killerz show and what we can expect from her in the upcoming exhibition …
Tell us a little about your motivations for going out at night (or day?) and putting pieces of your work up on the walls of Melbourne? What drives you?
I guess the short answer is the creative spirit. I have such a passion for art in all forms. Street art is a great leveller in that you don’t have to ask to exhibit – you can just put the work out there. It is also more immediate and it puts your work into another context altogether and delivers it to an audience who may never get to a gallery. Art on the street interacts directly with the environment that it is placed in to convey something art in a gallery could never convey. However, having said that there are also things that work on a canvas or in a gallery that would not work well on the street; both forms of art are able to convey something unique.
Are you a self taught artist or have you had training or some form? What was the path that you’ve taken, creatively, up to here?
I believe most artists these days are self taught in a technical sense. We learn mostly from practice. I went to both VCA and to Monash University. I did a Fine Arts degree at VCA and exhibit regularly as a Fine Artist. I began street art as a kind of hobby on the side. Gradually my work became bolder. I believe it complements and strengthens my other artistic practice and it is such a thrill.
A recurring character of your work is the naked girl, surrounded by birds – what are the ideas behind the icons, and what is the story you wish them to tell, unless you would rather leave that up to the viewer?
I love each persons’ own interpretation of the themes as there is no single answer here. I believe artists are the worst people to ask about the meaning behind their own works as they are often operating from deeply instinctive and unconscious motivations. I guess the piece is about freedom, hurt, longing, falling or flying. I love that paradox as our strengths are so often our weaknesses and vice versa. The things that tear us down pull us up.
What have been some of your favourite pieces so far that you’ve done around Melbourne, and can you tell us any interesting stories about any of your guerilla missions?
One of my favourite pieces is a legal wall for Post Industrial Design in Footscray. The owners were so lovely and supportive. It also gave me the opportunity to relax and take my time with the piece. It was refreshing to not have to worry about being caught and I guess it made me feel like I had some legitimacy. It was the first time I have ever signed any work, which meant a lot.
Almost every guerrilla mission is an interesting one as there is something beautiful about being up when the rest of the world isn’t and seeing all the various possibilities out there. Well that’s how it goes…. sometimes….I have also been citizen-arrested by a security guard which was fairly ugly.
We read lately that you had just returned from a three month residency at the Red Gate Gallery in Beijing – can you tell us a little about this experience? what is happening over in China at the moment, in terms of art, that most grabbed your attention or influenced you?
Chinese art and the work ethic there is absolutely incredible. I was especially inspired by the products, packaging and advertising I found there. I think when you step outside your own culture your senses become so heightened and alive. You see things from a unique perspective only an outsider would notice. Street art in Beijing is basically non existent because of the government and the fears that have permeated people’s lives. Next time I return to China I would love to take my tools and put some stuff up. I don’t think I could help myself. That would be awesome!
When you were asked to do the show at Surface POP what were your first thoughts, and what was your initial thought as to what you wanted to do for it?
I felt honoured to be part of it, in such great company and thought it would be a great way to show my artistic process, demonstrating how an idea goes from a tiny seed of a sketch into full bloom on the street.
What do you think of the female street art contingent in Australia these days – kicking ass or what?
I think because of the secretive nature of street art and the penalties surrounding it, artists often work in small pockets or individually. One of the main benefits of exhibiting in group shows such as this, is that it brings people together (we have Renee from Surface Pop Up to thank for this one!). It has been great to connect and put a face to many of the pieces I have seen. I love being part of a community as art can be a solitary business at times. I feel like I am part of one big family here in Melbourne and that makes my heart happy.
I would definitely agree that female street art in Australia is right up there. There are many people here in Melbourne who just blow me away. Sam Serious Jones is one of these as her work is so intelligent, mixing fine art with street art to create something incredible. Exhibiting with the Ladiekillerz exhibition at Faction 5 in Footscray has definitely been a highlight.
What do you believe the street art scene in Australia is mostly lacking, if anything? Or what do you believe are the pros and cons of being involved in street art here – and how would you encourage others who are just starting to get into it?
Street art in Melbourne is so vibrant, the only thing lacking in my mind is legal walls. There are so many walls or buildings. I see various buildings, skyscrapers blocks of flats etc… that would look absolutely incredible with some art on them. I think of different things I could create on them all the time. We are surrounded by blank canvas. Artists could make this city look unbelievable but the process of gaining legal access to those buildings is overwhelming, time consuming and draining. It means the artist would become mired in paperwork and administration which is the antithesis of most artistic practice. Why is it that all big projects in life require paperwork? Ouch! There is an idea… someone should start an agency to gain permission from the owners of buildings to use their walls then invite artists to submit proposals for each project. That would be brilliant. I think most artists would do it just for the cost of materials. I certainly would. I know so many talented artists who could create something amazing with these spaces, it is a shame they are not being utilised.
The only advice I would have to someone starting out is that to some people street art is pure vandalism and destruction of property and in their mind there is no grey area. Don’t argue with those people as they are often filled with hate and anger – just get the hell out of there.
What do you have lined up for your work in the future, and where would you like to take it to next – will you continue to hit both the streets as well as the exhibition scene?
It is quite funny really as I never felt street art would lead to anything at all for me. In many ways I felt like Benjamin Button going in reverse towards adolescence, not maturity. I will continue to create all kinds of art including oil painting, sculpture and drawing as well as street art. I have many projects on the go. The next pieces I have planned for the street will be quite romantic images. I can’t wait. I get excited just thinking about them. Also have a few exhibitions lined up also, including Platform this July.