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Interview – DLUX – James Dodd

It’s 2004, Melbourne, and things for the cities vibrant stencil art community are about to change. For many years the stencil was king – so much so that books were written, international websites spawned and a global movement eagerly watched the streets come alive in nooks and crannies with cut and sprayed works of art. from the political to the humourous,  – in these days, freedom aerosol was still, for the most part, mostly practiced by graffiti artists and what we know as the “street art scene” was dominated by stencils and the artists who created them, plied a swaths across the city.

But 2004 was the year of a major international event in Melbourne, the Commonwealth games, and with it came a massive cleanup across the city – walls washed and sterilised in the name of “making shit look better”, and with the cleanup went many of the cities beloved stencil art. The City of Melbourne, as hard as it may be to believe these days, went to “war” on graffiti and street art, one which, in hindsight, it appears it was less a victor than at the time it had thought it had been.

It was the year that the first incarnation of the Blender studios was shut down, and the year that the Everfresh studios opened – it was a time of transition between the old, and the new. Artist such as Sync, Ha-Ha and, of course, Dlux, three artists who had been right in amongst the stencil art and street art movement, moved off into different directions – continuing to pursue their works and enlivening their, and consequently our, surroundings.

Dlux, or, as he is more commonly know these days, James Dodd, was there, amongst it all, a part of the beginnings of a movement that have continued to this day. Where once street art was truly underground, it is now, in many ways, a commercial, comodifiable product – and yet artists such as Dlux have retained their ability to “keep it real” whilst navigating the many opportunities and pitfalls associated with the rise of street art as a cultural phenomenon. Although his work has evolved in many differing directions in the decade since, it still retains an element of authenticity that was, in all probability, spawned within that period of time – the rebellion, the enthusiasm and gleefully poignant philosophical elements are all critical elements of his work, and it would be hard to discern if so many of these elements would be present, if he had not been there to see it all in its rambunctious glory.

In the intervening years, Dlux continued to progress his work and delve into multifaceted areas, taking it into entirely new directions and extending his personal philosophies to encompass other areas of the community, including projects in regional centres and working with indigenous communities. In 2010, he was aslo recognised contributions to the Australian street art scene, when he was invited to participate in the National Gallery of Australias Space Invaders exhibition – a well deserved accolade for one who has worked so tirelessly to promote both his own work, and that of the artistic community in general. His work has also, over these years, diversified into everything from gorgeously coloured landscapes to abstracted public installations, and his own personal artistic mythos has developed alongside it all into a multifaceted riot of colours and earthly glimpses of both our country, and identity.

In 2004, the City of Melbourne went to “war” with street artists such as Dlux, persecuting them and their work for detracting from their narrow definition of municiple beauty – and it is telling that today, in 2014, when Dlux is still pushing forward into new territory with his remarkable work, that the City of Melbourne has just signed off on a new Graffiti Management Act. A new set of guidelines that, although still not quite at a point where we can celebrate, does offer a measure of support to street artists, and goes some way towards giving them the ability to practice their creativity without as much fear of retribution as there was in the year 2004.

Without the efforts, talents and contributions of artists such as Dlux (not to mention Ha-Ha, Sync, and all the other artists who practiced in those times) the foundations of what we call the Melbourne street art community would be vastly different to what it is now – and may, truly, not be as vibrant and beautiful a beast as it now is.

On the eve of his celebration of these past ten years, the group exhibition “Now & Then” with both Ha-Ha and Sync, we had a chance to catch up with Dlux (aka James Dodd), to discuss his art, why 2004 was such a pivotal moment, and what he still hopes to achieve with his work in the future …

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As with every artist, you must have started out somewhere – what are some of your earliest creative memories and when did you realise that art was a path that had chosen you?

Ha, yes, a wonderfully cliché question that invokes wonderfully cliché answers! Both of my grandmothers were painters so I was always around drawing and painting. We always had paper to draw on in our house. I’m lucky that my family always encouraged me to pursue my passions so it was kind of always quite clear that I’d become some kind of arty person.

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Mark making, painting and stencils – your mediums cross a lot of boundaries, what do all of these methods of expression have in common, beyond the mediums and techniques? Which of these hold particular interest to you, and why?

I get bored easily so I need lots of things going on to keep me interested. They are all interesting to me and they each can be used to tell different stories. Mostly, the common thing for me comes down to thinking about how people are creative in public space. Sometimes scratched marks in public furniture form nice conversations, sometimes you want to contemplate softly nuanced textures, sometimes you need to draw a dick on someone’s fence … Painting is just one of those things that can keep you excited for ever – there is no end point.

Tell us a bit about the whole scene in Melbourne back in 2004 – what was the most exciting aspect of being an artist in the city a decade ago?

I had come to Melbourne from Adelaide around 2002, I knew a few art heads but not many. I was at one of those points where I was hungry for everything and Melbourne dished it out in fistfuls. I was meeting stacks of similarly curious and passionate people and we were all excited to be finding all of these things together. The alleyways and lanes were already littered with tags and scrawl and were a natural place to start fooling around with stencils. It seemed at times that artworks were multiplying overnight by magic – I guess they kind of were. Everyone was pumped by what was going on.

How did you first meet Sync and Ha-Ha? How did the friendship between you guys begin, and how has it evolved over the years?

Ben Frost – is definitely the wizard on the mountain top – I’d known Frosty for a couple of years through other art adventures and he’d been in Melbourne for a little while when I moved there. He was living with this guy called Reagan who was into stuckism, conspiracy theories and stencils and our relationship grew quickly.

I’d known Sync’s work on the streets of Adelaide, in fact seeing his stickers gave me my first inspiration to start making stencils and stickers, but I’d never met him. I think I met him once at a Melbourne alleycat race or something, I can’t recall exactly, but he showed up one day to take a studio at the Blender. Suffice to say we were all in to the same things and spent a lot of time painting and adventuring together.

We were all close through the Empty Show phase and through Early Space. Rick was always a lot more gangster and into rap painting and stuff so he fit in well with the Everfresh Crew. Reagan and I stayed dorks and hung out with other social miscreants and artfags. Now Rick lives around from the corner from me in Adelaide. He steals lemons from my tree that hangs over the fence.

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How about your own artwork? The work you do these days has a huge progression and difference in style to what you did back then – what are some of the pivotal changing points in your work, and what common elements have carried through from then to now?

Yeah, for sure … I was initially excited by making things on the street because of the things that kind of creativity could do better than in a gallery. For a long time I was somewhat dissatisfied with gallery outcomes and invested my energy thinking about street stuff. After investing a lot of time and energy in street outcomes I started to see some gallery things that I was keen to try out. Now I find myself interested in things that might be able to cross between both contexts.

I’ve always been turned on by artists who work comfortably across a range of different approaches and mediums. People like Mike Kelley are a good example. You either have to be outrageously talented to do this or you have to work hard at building your understanding of different things. It’s a bit like speaking different languages.

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There’s always a somewhat, in my mind, philosophical element to your work – it often has hidden nuances that narrate a thoughtful tale – is this a conscious approach? Do you often have a defined idea or philosophical, explorative urge when putting together a show?

I like art that has a reason, or quest, or concept. It’s not enough for me to make things that simply decorative. So that means I’m always looking for those things when I am making.

It’s corny, but I like to give people opportunities to reflect and to think.

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You’ve actually done a hell of a lot of work out of the cities and in regional areas, and a bit of work in the past with indigenous communities – can you tell us a bit about some of these projects, and how this kind of work has both rewarded you and contributed to your own creativity?

I grew up regionally and have distinct memories of the small bits of contact that I had with practicing artists so it’s always been easy for me to relate. Travelling and turning around murals in a small amount of time is really exciting for me. Working really remotely and with indigenous communities has presented me with some of the most confronting experiences of my life. In the end, using aerosol with kids generally makes it easy to get their attention and it’s great when they have a really positive experience.

A big part of my process is basic encouragement of creativity – just seeing kids draw is huge for me. Mostly I work together with communities to facilitate their ideas so that they end up with an outcome that they have a genuine connection with.

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If you could contrast things between “then and now”, how have things changed for the better “now”? How were things better back ‘then”? Is it a case of apples and oranges – too difficult to compare, or are there marked differences?

Yeah, things are different – that’s a good thing – it means we’ve actually progressed culturally. The big walls that people are smashing out now are amazing. That wasn’t happening when I was coming up. The great work of many artists over the years has meant that the support base for this kind of artwork is bigger than it has ever been.

As with any progression, young artists see what people do before them and want to take things beyond that. That’s what we did. People saw that and then did the next things.

It might be hard to believe, but it did seem impossible to make a living making the kind of art we wanted to make. And, hey, if we’re gonna be all dreamy eyed it was never about the money! I think that young artists now see that they can make a living doing these things. They chase that. That’s a fortunate situation.

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What are all three of you hoping to illustrate with this somewhat retrospective-come-new exhibition?

I think it’s a bit of an adventure really. We’re not entirely sure. My personal curiosity comes from having not been living in Melbourne for a while, and missing the community there. Whilst I stay in touch as much as I can, I am interested to see what sort of conversations can be had about the shift in Melbourne street culture generally.

I’m also itching to share things that I’ve made with people who may only have known part of what I’ve done.

How about the whole “making a living as an artist” thing – is it as challenging ad it used to be? There seem to be more opportunities for artists to do so these days, bit for yourself, what is the day to day toil of making your way in the world as an artist actually like?

It’s exciting, but you’ve got to keep at it and there’s no one else to whip you into shape if you’re not pulling your weight. You need to be self-motivated – there’s no other way. Certainly I’m fortunate to have some momentum but that doesn’t mean I can sit back and enjoy the ride. I still work long hours and weekends on all parts of my practice. Art audiences (good ones) expect you to keep pushing and growing.

As a full time artist there’s a lot of time put in behind a desk as well, doing admin, communicating, responding to interview questions!

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You’ve had a hell of a lot of shows and produced a fairly large body of work over the years – what have been some of your favourite shows and projects, and why?

Highlights have been celebrating the Space Invaders exhibition with a huge bunch of talented peers.

Most of my artworks are experiments – that means most of them ‘don’t work’ – so when I do manage to pump out a batch that are still satisfying to look at years later that makes me very happy. Spending time in Australia’s Top End, looking at unique graffiti has been a favourite. Invitations to travel to different parts of the world and do what I love to do rates pretty high.

Adventures, road trips, being naughty, all nighters – choosing the art life has given me so many fantastic experiences and friendships.

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If you could give some words of advice to people out there doing their thing, that you didn’t know back in the day, what would they be?

Just the classics – I have a couple of favourites. Don’t become complacent. If you’re comfortable, you’re not excited. As an artist you have to make everyday – it’s both a guide and a declaration.

What do you have planned for the rest of the year, and, indeed, the future?

I’m working towards a solo show at the Contemporary Art Centre of S.A., in Adelaide in the middle of the year. I’m always playing, always wondering. I’m quite curious to try and make work that can be more poetic – things that aren’t as in your face but can still tell a story, offer insight into the human condition or offer an experience of beauty – not much! They’re ongoing goals and things that can be built upon forever.

What projects lay unrealised, and what would you like to investigate with your work in your next project?

That’s a big question. I keep journals of ideas and most of them begin with their fantasy version and then slowly get resolved according the reality of time and money. It’s just one step at a time mostly, trying not to trip over. One of the things I’ve been fooling around with lately is my passion for bicycles, adventures and art and wondering whether there are things there that might also be interesting for other people to consider art. It’s ongoing…

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Check out Dlux (James Dodd) at his website and be sure to check out his show Now & Then with Sync and Ha-Ha this May 2014.

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Exhibition – Fred Fowler – Decorating The Apocalypse – Backwoods Gallery – Melbourne

Fred Fowler has been bringing his own brand of creative, awesome madness to galleries across the country for many years, and yet this next show may be one of the best shows yet.

Decorating the Apocalypse will show Fred in all his glory, at one of our favourite galleries in MelbourneBackwoods Gallery.

"Decorating the Apocalypse is a playful investigation of themes related to cultural identity. Images of masks and faces function as the primary signifiers in Fowler’ work. Through sculpture, painting and printmaking, he is questioning the ‘mythologies’ or artificial constructs surrounding issues of identity. Cheap, plastic, Chinese-manufactured toys are sourced locally before being deconstructed and re-configured, to finally emerge – through the ancient process of casting – as intricate, bronze masks. Kitsch wooden ‘primitive’ masks, found in flea markets in Paris and Melbourne, are methodically vandalized, painted and re-presented as cultural artifacts of contemporary society.

Also on display at the exhibition will be a 72 page book showing selected works from 1996 – 2012 both on and off the streets.

Selected solo and joint exhibitions include Raiders of the Lost Art, A.R.T Gallery Eden, Melbourne 2001; Productivism, Fine Art Gallery of Ballarat, 2003; No Comply, Federation Square, Melbourne, 2006; Refil 7, MTV Gallery, Sydney, 2007; Bootlegger, Until Never Gallery, Melbourne, 2007; Highland Chamber, Until Never Gallery, Melbourne, 2008; The Outsiders, Kristian Pithie Gallery, Melbourne, 2009; Surface, Michael Koro Gallery, Melbourne, 2009; Space Invaders, National Gallery of Australia, 2010; Larger Than Life, The Substation, Melbourne, 2011; South of the Border, Lo Fi Gallery, Sydney, 2011; VCA Graduate Exhibition, Melbourne, 2011.

Fowler’s work is held in the National Gallery of Australia collection, as well as various private collections in Australia and overseas."

Head over to Collingwood this Friday night to see it all – gunna be grand.

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Who: Fred Fowler
What: Decorating The Apocalypse
Where: Backwoods Gallery, 25 Easey St, Collingwood, Melbourne
When: Show opens Friday 17th August from 6pm til 9pm, and runs until the 26th August.

Check out Fred Fowler as well as the Backwoods Gallery website, and the facebook event page for more info.

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Snapshots – Tom Civil – Long Story @ House Of Bricks – Melbourne

After having interviewed Tom Civil last week, we were really keen to get down and check out his show at House Of Bricks in Collingwood.

What we saw sure didn’t disappoint. Street art meets folk art meets new meets old. Somehow, Civil managed to merge the best of all forms with his own aesthetic, creating something entirely different that we hadn’t seen from him before. To us, this is the mark of a successful show, and of a great artist.

With most of the pieces in Long Story comprising dedications to his late brother Ned, Long Story also holds a touching, but never overwhelming, poignancy. From great love, comes great things, and the love within this show blazes throughout.

Check out some of the pics below, but, better still, head down to House Of Bricks and see it for yourself, you won’t be disappointed.

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Exhibition – Tom Civil – Long Story – Melbourne

Melbourne is in for a treat this week, with the return of Tom Civil with his show “Long Story” at House Of Bricks in Collingwood.

Tom Civil is a name known to most of those who follow the Australian street art scene, and his work across the years with social advocacy and his immediately recognisable, iconic characters and scenarios speak for all. In “Long Story” Civil presents a whole range of hand-printed woodcut and lino Prints, stencils, carvings and engravings – something different, as to be expected, and definitely cool.

“Tom Civil’s work can be found in many tucked away nooks of the city. He is interested in how street art and graffiti create community, mark space and act as a human-scaled anarchic form of urban architecture. His stencil and street work has been featured in various publications including Melbourne Stencil Art Capital, Street|Studio, Space Invaders (NGA), the film Rash, as a feature artist in the Melbourne Stencil Festival 2004/05/09 and the Cans Festival in London in 2008. He has also exhibited walk-through installations and worked closely with his brother Ned, who died from cancer in late 2010, under the guise The Evil Brothers.Tom and his brother Ned also exhibited with their Dad, Tony as Sevil & Sons. Tom has given workshops and talks in different communities about murals and the political nature of street art, and is also the co-founder of small Melbourne-based radical publishers Breakdown Press.”

Tom Civil is, in our opinion, one of the nicest, most genuine artists practicing in Australia today, and his work amongst the community is both commendable and admirable. His art is just plain cool, and any show from him is a must see.

We also just had a chat to Tom about this upcoming show, and a little bit about the long story behind it, so stay tuned … and don’t forget,he’ll be talking about human rights and street art over at RMIT on Wednesday night talongside a bunch of other great speakers.

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Who: Tom Civil
What: Long Story solo show
Where: House of Bricks 40 Budd Street, Collingwood, Melbourne
When: Show opens Friday May 25th from 6pm til 9pm and runs until the 3rd June

Check out Tom Civils website as well as the facebook event page for more info on the show.

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Interview – Sandra Powell & Andrew King

CDH, a Melbourne street artist, recently sat down for a chat with reputable collectors, fans and all round wonderful philanthropists of Australian Street Art, Sandra Powell and Andrew King …

I never fully understood the expression ‘jaw dropping’ until I went to Sandra and Andrew’s house. Walking around corners, I found my mouth dropping open at the amazing art on display; Banksy, Shepard Fairey, and so many more street artists, nestled among Sidney Nolan and Brett Whiteley.  Andrew and Sandra tell me that they’re slowly selling their modernist Australian artworks to make way for more street art. There’s a subtle irony in that because there’s an obvious comparison to be made between this couple and John and Sunday Reed. Andrew and Sandra are more than just collectors; they are people who are trying to facilitate and grow street art in Melbourne.

They also recently organized and curated the recent show ‘Young & Free’ in San Francisco, featuring thirteen Australian street artists. They have a small flat at the back of their house that is set up as a guest space for visiting street artists. ELK, D*Face, Kid Zoom, Lister and Dlux have all stayed here and left their tag behind to mark their visit. At the end of the interview, Andrew and I sit around and just chat about art and life over a few beers, then later we talk at length about how to grow street art in Melbourne – he’s a genuinely nice guy who enjoys a few beers and loves talking about street art.

You only need to speak to them for a few minutes to be able to see their enthusiasm for street art coming straight through.

“We want to dedicate ourselves to this,” Sandra tells me later.

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Do you think that street art is the art movement of the day?

Andrew: It’s the first movement of the internet age – without a doubt it’s the biggest art movement, ever. There are more people involved in it than any other movement in art history, in the world. You can’t go to any city or town in the world where someone hasn’t made their mark on a wall.

Sandra: …well we went to a little town in New Zealand recently and that wasn’t the case.

Andrew: Yeah, but I fixed that up. [I had a good laugh at that]

What type of art are you interested in collecting?

Sandra: What we’re especially interested in is Melbourne art. Australian, yes, but especially Melbourne art.  We’re really interested in getting art from the 1990s onwards and just getting anything historic because so much has been lost. Andrew and I wish we had started collecting street art earlier when it was such an exciting time in Melbourne between 2000-2004. That whole stencil time when Melbourne street art really hit its straps. The artists say it wouldn’t have really made a difference, then, because they were doing it for themselves.

When they had empty shows, they were only for other artists and artists’ friends. They weren’t gallery shows, so the people who have got most of the early stuff are the artists themselves.

Can I put one thing to you? You’re clearly very close to Everfresh and you often describe Melbourne’s street art through the prism of their experiences. But there are so many other things that came before and have come since then like yarn bombing, guerilla gardening, video projection, installation art; these are all part of the same urban intervention movement. I don’t share your view that the best has already happened, I think it’s broader than that and there are many innovative and interesting things happening today.

Sandra: Sure – but my interest is in aerosol. I love looking at tags. I love anything that’s done with paint. So I think our interest is very much from a painterly point of view, not so much from the craft or sculpture. I love stuff on walls. I might start loving yarn bombing or something else, I think it’s really terrific but the smell of aerosol drives me crazy.

You both organized and curated the ‘Young & Free’ show in San Francisco. I know organizing artists is a lot like herding cats. I like to imagine the two of you as the mum and dad at a children’s birthday party where someone has spiked the red cordial. Are there any anecdotes you can share of artists running amok?

Andrew: One of the supposedly amusing ones was several of the artists went out one night and did some illegal stuff. We got a photo pretty early one morning of the escapades from the night before of some pretty good work on the wall of a church and they’d put Sandra’s mobile phone number below.

[All laughing]

Did it have ‘for a good time call…’ above it?

Sandra: No. It looked like I had done the work. It had my name and my phone number on it. Then it became a joke that they started calling us ‘Sandrew’, so then they started signing everything ‘Sandrew’. It was like organizing a children’s birthday party. That’s a good analogy. I don’t know that there had ever been so many Australian street artists in one place overseas. They were all staying in the same hotel. We very wisely stayed down the road.

[Laughing]

Andrew: We had Ironlak as our sponsor for the ‘Young & Free’ show. They were really supportive and they gave us every piece of paint we could ever hope for – but one of the artists didn’t like the smell …

Sandra: …There was some confusion amongst the artists that played out in a huge email exchange.

Andrew: After this email exchange, we got an email from Ben Frost, saying he used Ironlak for aftershave. Then he said, ‘perhaps that’s why my wife left me.’

Sandra: It was just so funny – hysterical.

You collect a huge amount of street art, but you also advise and facilitate street artists. I don’t know if you’ve been asked this before but are you the John and Sunday Reed of our time?

Andrew: Hopefully there’s not a Sidney Nolan lurking in the background there somewhere! [laughs] 

[I had a good laugh at that too - Sidney Nolan had an open affair with Sunday Reed]

Sandra: When we first started collecting art, we were collecting from the Heide artists. So we’re very familiar with that story – but we never really understood the connection they had with the artists. So when we started collecting art it was from artists who had either died or have died since; for instance Joy Hester and Sidney Nolan. So the excitement now is, without a doubt, collecting the works of artists we know and have become friends with. That completely changes the whole idea of collecting in a way I hadn’t realized it would. It makes you look at people’s art differently.

Andrew: We can’t go back to Albert Tucker and say ‘what’s the story behind this work?’

Sandra: Buying works that we have actually watched them paint is just extraordinarily exciting and are things I wouldn’t give up in a million years. You just have a totally different connection to the art that you collect when you have a relationship with the artist. So when you’re saying ‘Are we the John and Sunday Reed?’ well maybe in 10 or 15 years time when we’ve been at it a lot longer – but one of the things that Andrew and I want to do at the moment is to support the artists. I don’t think there’s an artist I’ve met whose ideal isn’t to be able to live off painting – they all want to be able to.

Andrew: As an example, Rone contacted us and told us that Meggs was going over to LA, and asked would it be possible for us to organise an introduction with Justin [Giarla] at White Walls. So I said, yeah, sure; I wrote a letter of introduction and Meggs went up to San Francisco – and now he has a solo show at White Walls this year! Cool.

Sandra: To be in a position to make a few connections like that is really fantastic, and it’s really interesting for the artists to trust somebody. I don’t think there’s anyone we’ve met that doesn’t understand that we’re not in it for the money.

Andrew: When we first met them, they thought ‘who the hell are these people?’ There was a lot of suspicion. I heard that at first they thought I was an undercover cop or something – now we’ve got their confidence, we’re just friends, and it’s no big deal.

Sandra: I think they know that our hearts are in the right place. They just have to talk to us to see that we’re just so passionate about it. They have more to teach us, more than we have to teach them. Then sometimes there’s an opportunity to give a little bit of advice – it’s a relationship on a different level. It’s more like family.

That reminds me of the parental-children relationship we talked about before.

Sandra: Definitely. That’s it, and if they get out of line I’ll tell them off, don’t you worry [laughing]. I think I’m more a mother than Andrew is a father.

Andrew: Yeah, definitely. I love going out with the artists. I love going out with them at night – just for the thrill.

Sandra: We have a running joke – ‘Andrew you are not a street artist.’

Andrew: I do love putting up stickers – I just find it really exciting.

Sandra: I get really embarrassed by this. I say ‘Andrew you shouldn’t do it’. But the artists really love it. They love going out with him, and they just think it’s a real hoot. It’s a bit like putting your money where mouth is. He embarrasses his wife and his daughter sometimes.

[Andrew got his phone to show me stickers he’d put up. One is on the rear bumper of a US police car]

[Laughing] That’s one thing I really love about street art. Sometimes it’s really quite creative, but others it’s just the sheer ballsy-ness of it.

Andrew: That’s part of street art. Even if it’s a simple tag, if it’s really dangerous to get to (physical danger or the danger of getting caught) that just adds to it. Anyone can go down a back lane when there’s no one around. That’s simple. This was another good one. [checking his phone] I was with Meggs.

Sandra: No, I was with Meggs. It was the three of us in London. A cop car drove past and you went chasing after the cop car (to sticker it). Meggs couldn’t believe it. So he and I took off. That was pretty funny.

You obviously collected a lot of Australian tonalism and modernism. With a view to your art collection history, how do you think street art will fit into broader Australian art history?

Andrew: I think it’s here to stay – a lot of people think it’s a passing fad. It’s not like impressionism or Dadaism or cubism or something. It’s here to stay, and it’s just going to evolve. In Australian art history I don’t know when they’ll say it first started, but it’s going to stay.

Sandra: I think it started in the 80s with train painting, but there’s still a heap of people who paint trains. I find that part of it really fascinating too. There is no doubt in my mind that the movement will have to be taken seriously in the history of art. It is evolving. We were talking about that before; has Banksy peaked? It does just keep on changing and evolving. Lately I’ve seen more tags. It turns into an abstract piece of art.

Andrew: If we achieve our aim of setting up a street art museum, that will help bring it to the fore. The Space Invader show at the NGA last year, that has given a lot of cred to the movement too. Also having the Everfresh boys in the Atrium (studio space in Fed Square) gave the movement a lot of credibility.  We’ve been told that more people went to the Atrium exhibition space that month than went to the Vienna exhibition in the international part of the NGV – what does that say?

Sandra: I also recognize that there must be many people in the movement who hate people like us – people who are supposedly trying to gentrify the movement, but that’s really cool too. I must admit, we’ve met quite a few rough nuts.

I think your enthusiasm for street art cuts through a lot of that. People who haven’t met you might feel that way, but I think once people meet you they see a more sympathetic side.

Sandra: I think that’s what happens. We have met a few guys who were not aggressive but were very nonchalant. They were like ‘who are you and why are you interested, and why do I care?’ But then, within a few days, they’re emailing me photos of what they’ve done.

Andrew: Some of the really hardcore artists, you could just see how stand off-ish they were. When you’ve got this dichotomy with the council; on the one hand they’re encouraging street art and using it for tourism. On the other hand you’ve got the Lord Mayor calling the artists peanut brains and graffiti vandals – I just don’t get it. A lot of people in the movement can’t speak up for the movement. I think it helps to have someone who knows the way of the world better than some of the artists do – hopefully that doesn’t sound too arrogant.

Sandra: We also know how to run a business. In bits like that we can help the artists because a lot of them are trying to run their businesses – we can help with things like that.

Who else have you met that stands out in your mind?

Andrew: Well Saber, what a guy he is! He’s done the biggest piece of street art in the world. We’ve been to his studio. One time he was being chased by the cops, he jumps over a fence (not very successfully) and impales himself on this iron spike. He’s got a piece of the fence and framed it. Luckily it stopped just next to his stomach lining. So he’s stuck on the fence and has to push up with the cops still following him – and he got away. He is as hard core as you can get.

Sandra: After the MOCA opening in LA (in April) we had a dinner at our hotel and we invited Swoon and her family. She didn’t get back to us and I assumed she had gone back to New York. I had booked a really nice table, so we asked Saber and his partner to join us instead. He’d just said yes and then we got a text from Swoon, saying ‘I’m sorry, I’d lost my phone, we’d love to come.’ So I thought uh-oh we’ve got Swoon and Saber. They are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum. Saber is a gang guy. He’s got these holes in his ears. They’re like plugs but they’re not plugs that can heal, they’re punched holes in his ear lobes. He told me it’s a gang rite thing. They’ve got some bit of iron – they bash out the center part of your ear and you’ve got to eat it.

… No way. That’s made up.

Sandra: No, no, no. It’s true. He had to eat it in front of people. This guy is really hard core – and Swoon is just so gorgeous. So, I rang her up and explained that I hadn’t heard back so I’d asked someone else to dinner. I said you’re welcome to come but I don’t know that you’ll get on with the person we’ve asked. She said ‘Oh, who have you asked?’ I told her it was Saber.

She replied, ‘Oh my god I love Saber. He’s my favourite person in the world.’ – we had such a cool night!

You can also check out last years Art Nation segment on Sandra Powell and Andrew king, as well as a great write up in The Age, for more info – and there are also a bunch of great images of their beautiful home here. We’d also like to thank Sandra and Andrew for their time for this great interview, we enjoyed it immensely!

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Live Art – Space Invaders – Seniors Festival – Melbourne

Another awesome event within the Space Invaders banner comes this October, in conjunction with the Seniors Festival.

A morning tea and live painting event hosted by TwoOne at the RMIT Gallery in Melbourne.

“Drawing and crafting have been a part of his life for as long as he can remember. He gained an early interest in graffiti specifically while photographing a two-kilometre stretch of wall in his hometown. TwoOne moved to Melbourne at the age of 18 and quickly became a prominent part of the local street art scene.”

This free event is a wonderful idea and should go down a treat, TwoOne is a fantastic artist. So, if you’ve got an elderly friend, family member or just some nice old guy from the bus stop, let them in on this cool event, and help celebrate the festival of our elders!

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Who: Twoone
What: Space Invaders – Seniors Festival Live Painting Event
Where: RMIT Gallery -  344 Swanston Street Melbourne
When: Thursday 6th October 11am-12 noon
 
Check out TwoOne website, and Space Invaders at the RMIT Gallery for more details
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Seminar – Vandals or Vanguards? – Space Invaders – Melbourne

Space Invaders is going strong, and the quality of interaction keeps coming, with the Street Art Seminar ‘Vandals or Vanguards?’ at RMIT Gallery in Melbourne.

Moderator Jaklyn Babington, Eloise Peace, Sticky Institute and street artists Nails, Civil and Jumbo bring their expertise to us with this free event open to the public next Monday. Get down and take in some learning!

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Who: Jaklyn Babington, Eloise Peace, Sticky Institute and street artists Nails, Civil and Jumbo
What: Vandals or Vanguards? – Group Seminar
Where: RMIT Gallery, 344 Swanston Street Melbourne, Victoria
When: Monday 26th September 12-1pm

Also check out our recent articles on the Space Invaders Exhibition and Curators Talk for more details. Brush up and come prepared before the seminar!

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Saturday Snapshots – Sun, Space & Streets

Lots of great images from around the web this week, from exhibitions to live art and everything in between – enjoy this weeks snapshots from around Oz and NZ …

Quite a few pics on Dean Sunshines blog this week from last weekends Brunswick Show at Donkey Wheelhouse!

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Go over to Deans website for more pics from the show …

Kailtin Beckett @ BSG

We loved these images of Kailtin Becketts work at the Folk Art show at Brunswick street gallery the other week – samurai beasts! Mad.

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Check out the rest of the images on Kaitlin Becketts website.

Anthony Lister @ Ironlak

Lister hit Melbourne recently for his solo show, and Ironlak posted up a bunch of pics of one of the walls he did while he was here.

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Head over to Ironlak for more images.

25 Years of RDC @ SDM Crew

We love all the pics that are being posted up from the RDC show, we caught it last Friday and it was grand.

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Head over to the SDM website for more pics from the show.

End2End @ Crush City

Crush City in Brissy have been running their End2End competition, and so much great shit has been coming out from it.

"We dropped 20 of Brissy’s most active writers names into a hat, drew one out and armed them with 4 colours to display their style in it’s simplest form. No effects and no fancy business.. We let them start it off then pass it on to the next writer…

The rules are:

• Writers may only use BLACK, CHROME, WHITE & ONE OTHER COLOUR
• Writers must nominate the next artist and make sure they rock up to contest… Punishable by methods we cannot disclose publically.
• Writers must keep it fresh!

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Check out Crush Citys End2End blog for a crapload more pics.

Space Invaders @ Artygraffarti

Check out a bunch of pics from the Melbourne Space Invaders opening show over at Artygraffarti 

spaceinvadersrmit41 thumb Saturday Snapshots Sun, Space & Streets in art event photos painting genres melbourne installations genres spaceinvadersrmit8 thumb Saturday Snapshots Sun, Space & Streets in art event photos painting genres melbourne installations genres Click here for more images.

Dvate and Something 4 Nothing @ SDM

Another collection of great images from the SDM crew, this time from last weeks Dvate show at Rancho Notorious – win.

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Check out more images here on the SDM website.

 

That’s all the wrapup for this week, if you have pics from shows, events or just cool stuff you’ve done, send them through to us!

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Lecture – Space Invaders Curator Talk – Melbourne

 
The upcoming Space Invaders exhibition is giving the public a chance to indulge their interests even further with a talk by the curator of the event Jaklyn Babington, Assistant Curator, International Prints, Drawings and Illustrated Books, National Gallery of Australia.

So book your seats, pack your lunch and get in some learning in – see what’s behind this awesome showcase brought to us by by the NGA and RMIT Gallery!

Who: Jaklyn Babington
What: Space Invaders Curtator’s Talk
Where: RMIT Gallery – 344 Swanston St, Melbourne
When: Friday 2nd September 11am – 12pm

For more info check out the RMIT website – bookings are apparently essential so give them a call.

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Exhibition – Space Invaders – Melbourne

 
In something completely refreshed and promising, direct from the National Gallery of Australia, commissioned by and held at the RMIT University Gallery (Melbourne CBD), comes the travelling street art show ‘Space Invaders’.

After the success of its grand opening in Canberra last year, Space Invaders has been touring nationally, and now the showcase of Australian street art hits Melbourne for its showing. Curated by Jaklyn Babington (NGA), and with over 40 Australian artists involved and comprising of 150 works, this massive gypsy-esque exhibition was inspired by street arts “transition from the ephemeral to the collectible and from the street to the gallery” since the turn of the Australian graffiti days in the early 1980’s.

“A major strength of Australian street art is its ability to mix pop-culture imagery with political messages. From hard-hitting protest to political satire, clever combinations of sarcasm, mockery and parody, the means to mix art, politics and the street press is now in the hands of a new generation of Australian artists.
Space invaders also explores a paradox that has emerged in Australian street art in which an early flirtation with new technology has given way to a sentimentality for the traditional and the handmade…

This exhibition is supported by the Contemporary Touring Initiative through Visions of Australia, an Australian Government program, and the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian Government and state and territory governments. The Cultural Partner for Space invaders: australian . street . stencils . posters . paste-ups . zines . stickers is NewActon/Nishi and Molonglo Group. The exhibition is also supported by Special Media Partner Triple J.”

A very exciting venture indeed, this, sort of, acceptance of street art and graffiti into the realms of the contemporary and elite that the National Gallery of Australia does affiliate is a wonderful and hopeful thing! This is the continuation of a show that we, and many, believe is  a step forward in progression, and positive of thinking, when it comes to artistic expression in the modern day. Not to go on a rant here, but maybe this is the kind of event that should be run on the front page of certain ‘propaganda loving’ publications instead of the regurgitated mess that has been gracing us of late!

Please get down to these exhibitions when they show up in your neighbourhood, not just as a spectator and lover of all things art, but as an activist and supporter of the right of self expression!

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Who:
Byrd ,Civil, Scott Clement, Samuel Condon, Cougar Flashy, Tim Danko, Andrew Darragh, Dead Xerox Press, Department of Post-Human Affairs, Dlux!, James Dodd, Donovanism, Virgo Kids Virgo HQ Virgo Crew, Jo Waite, Into Ware, Carol Wood, Xero, Yok, Luke You, Zap, Meek and many more!
What: Space Invaders – Travelling exhibition
Where: RMIT Gallery – 344 Swanston Street Melbourne, Victoria
When: Friday 2nd September – 5th of November\
 
Check out the RMIT Gallery website, as well as the NGA Space Invaders website for more info.

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