The Underbelly Of Society


It is 11:42 PM and I should be asleep.

This one keeps coming back to me - wave after wave, feels like I'm drowning, pulling against the stream etc.

So it came to be that with the grace of Professor Ted Snell I was accepted into the Curtin University School of Art after completing the first year of the Associate Degree through the Edith Cowan University in Bunbury.

I'm using names here because all these people are very public figures. You might want to check my facts with them too and have a laugh at their responses if they ever afford you them. Being the amazing people they are I'm sure they would love to recount as to what a rascal art student I was.

Studying under the wonderful Pat Bandurski, Jenni Doherty, Linda Scrolys, Russel Sheridan and a host of other South Westerner's. I remember also during the latter period in 1995 being an Artist In Residence at Edith Cowan University, Bunbury campus.

Sticking mono-print tiles all over nude life sized mannekins. Hilarious when I come to think of it ....and yes I'm currently getting them converted and ready for public distribution via Youtube. Mixing absurd sound tracks with the beginnings of video and sonic installations.

Real life learning stuff.

So Curtin University, Bentley Campus on the other hand provided me with a mind expanding array of students to interact with, a huge pool of talent, amazing artists to work alongside, international scholar guests including the likes of Stellarc and Victoria Vesna most memorable.

Throughout second year I worked full time at the Department of Family Children Services (FACS), the Department of Juvenile Justice (JJ) and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) concurrently.

Working on the most horrific child abuse cases through after attending classes in the mornings, lax tutorial groups. The whole system of tutorials, reviews and limited lecturer access time by booking them in and negotiated proposals was in my eyes just a cop out and a way to get more bums on seats for less.

I chose to combine my anger with some really absurd activity on campus. My installation "In Humanity" was treated with horror and disdain.

My "Body Of Works" nude videography and modelling sessions largely followed by those who thought I was a nutcase.

'Project 44' was born in 2002 but that is a whole chapter in it's own right.

I was also treated (I thought) with contempt and disrespect by some of both peers and lecturers when I dared bring into my installation works ( juxtaposition of real life assemblages) of faeces samples, used needles, used condoms and photos of glory hole graffiti, detritus from park points, seedy motels, back alleys of Perth, St. Vincent dePaul Holy Mary's, crucifixes, casualty unit video snippets., roadside verge tributes to road accident victims.

My works were focussed on the the underbelly of society. The secrets. The unsaid. Grief. Sadness. Loss.

Juxtaposed with drinking Sauvignon Blanc on the alfresco, lobster on Rottnest Island, spatchcocks and truffles.

I considered those two years to be gritty, confrontational yet speaking directly to the reality of pitching the sublime with that of the practical and present realities of our time. 

What a privilege it was to work with Ben Joel (you behave yourself mister!), Harry Hummerston (printmaker guru), Annette Siemen (so you didn't get me kicked out of the school after all) and the marvellous Julian Goddard who introduced me to the incredible concept which I still pitch as the most valuable learning of all time in my artist career -

Yes, you complete the work. Without your interaction, your presence, your reaction, inaction we still get to live amongst the underbelly of society unchecked.

My artworks were not for sale.