Tonight: ‘Fauna’ by Mister French
Backyard Opera strolled down to Surry Hills, paying a studio visit to Mr French in light of his upcoming solo exhibition. His solo debut "Fauna", kicks off at 6pm This Thursday at the Beresford Hotel and is one night only, come one come all. His series "Fauna" beautifully explores his childhood fascination of mystical Australian creatures and is well worth checking out.
While your there, make sure to have a chat to Mister French as the dude's got many mystical experiences himself, way beyond his years. Read a taste of them here….
So tell us a bit about your upcoming exhibition, what is this series inspired by?
Well ever since I was young, we had a property in Mudgee and the animals there were always a huge fascination, I remember running around as a kid searching for them. Sometimes you'd get a glimpse of them in the shadow or the distance, then they became these almost mystical beings. It was almost like a spiritual experience from a very young age and it has stuck with me as I've grown up. So yeah, it's just an exploration of these characters I've seen or haven't seen.
Is this your first show?
I've dabbled in group shows in the past, but this is my first debut solo show. I was actually holding back from this show, but you've gotta have your foot in the door one way or another.
How do you figure out the price of the works you will be selling?
I want my work to be accessible to everyone, so I have priced reasonably with large works at $80 and smaller ones $30-$50. As emerging artists, it is important to realise you've just started making art and you have years and years of time to create big figure masterpieces. There's nothing worse then your work stacking up at home, I'd rather people could access my work and appreciate it in their own.
Have animals always been a prominent part of your work?
I started off doing oil paintings with different expressive faces and landscapes, they were more abstract. I'd mix medias and explore the natural progression of the paint like when it cracks and decays. It was pretty much just finding a way to mess around with paint as much as possible and picking up colour charts that worked with me.
You said you like mixing medias, have you explored any other ways to express your work?
In first year at National Art School, I tried absolutely every medium, experimenting from one subject to the next. I've been getting more into sculpture recently. I painted a shark on a Speedo sign, and I want to get an old fin and strap it on, but I also need to find shark teeth…. and they are pretty expensive. But I did get a drop saw about six months ago, so I've been stacking up piles of wood I find on the streets, getting ready to make different Australian animals. If only there were shark teeth lying around Surry Hills too.
So your work and medium is always pretty intrinsic to your surroundings. What's life like growing up here in the city too?
I think that where and how you grow up plays a huge role in your practice, you're experience and journeys are bound to be expressed one way or another. I’ve grown up with an array of interesting characters around Surry Hills. There was an old woman living right behind where we are now who was a gypsy and had seven kids. When her husband died at war, she was given the massive property that's like the size of four of these terrace blocks. She's now passed away, but one of her sons lives there with his caretaker as he has a mental illness. His caretaker was an old boyfriend of the mum's and he lived in India most of his life studying in the Himalayas and doing yoga.
Sounds like a cool dude. You were talking about the animals you paint being mythical, have you had any spiritual experiences?
As soon as I left art school, I did a three-month trip around South East Asia and my two-week trip to Tahiti turned into three-months which was an amazing and life changing experience. I was living with a group of healers on an island there which was a complete detox from the drug fuelled Sydney lifestyle. I met a guy called Gabriel who was the chief of the island and ended up staying with him for two and a half months. I learnt so many different things off him. He had this ancient understanding of the world, it's rare to meet people who still have it and grasp it. That spirituality is so hard to come by, and it's even harder to leave.
What are your future plans for your practice?
The natural progression of my work is pretty political at the moment. A bunch of works I'm in the process of creating is all about asylum seekers, creating simple boats floating on water but with different flags of countries that we've adopted. Australia is what it is today due to the immigration of different nations and creating a free world. The biggest issue is that it's so easy to categorise people and look at them as a group, but we should be focusing on individual people. I want to create an installation style work where I have stories of different asylum seekers on planks of wood. On those planks will be parchment stories of their journey to Australia. Not just recently though, I want Grandfathers, great Grandfathers and families that have held onto passed away relative's stories. I heard an interesting story about a young guy who was at school in America and every day they'd get up and sing the national anthem. But he rejected that idea and used to sit down and say I'm not an American citizen, I'm a citizen of the world.
Somehow I don't think Abbott shares the same view…
In a twisted backward way I'm glad he got elected. It'll hopefully get more people to wake up and question the pattern of the world we live in. In the widespread of things, more people will question what the hell he is doing. In the big scheme of things, it'll get people to think about the real reason why this is happening and figure out the pattern we're headed in. The world is nothing but a collection of corporations that are exploring resources and fighting each other for political and capital interests.
Mister French “Fauna” Solo Show Facebook
Where: The Beresford Hotel
When: 6pm – ONE NIGHT ONLY
- Jo Gilbert