Lincoln Austin QLD
What was the inspiration behind the piece that is a part of the SWELL Sculpture Festival 2021?
It’s more motivation than inspiration for me. I’ve considered participating in SWELL in the past but the ideas I have had never felt quite right for the location. The beach is a special place for me, it’s the edge of the land but an edge that is constantly shifting. I wanted to make a work that responds to this, that makes sense in this special location. Curiously, the work I have submitted is the opposite, it doesn’t belong, it is incongruous and out of place. Maybe contrast is the best way to amplify the unique properties of both things?
Do you follow a process or plan for each new piece or do you ‘wing it’?
Each new work requires a new approach. As a sculptor I am always working with and against gravity. I can research and plan until dawn (and often do) but it is only in the physical realisation of an idea that I meet reality and its limitations. I once made a work called ‘wing it’ and literally did, it worked.
Would you describe your artistic journey as a slow burn or a wild ride?
Definitely slow burn. I like to let ideas and influences slowly simmer, allowing them to distil into something more essential. That said I am a walking contradiction, on other days I am impatient, I just want to play and explore in the studio, leaving conscious thought behind.
Can you tell us a little bit more about how you became the artist that you are today?
When I was young I wanted to be an inventor, then a dancer, then a musician, then an artist, then a jeweller, then an architect, then a theatre designer, then an artist again. 21 years ago I made a commitment to making sculpture, there are a few times I have wondered whether that was a wise choice but thankfully love and passion always trumps doubt.
Describe your ideal environment where your creative juices flow?
Just before I fall asleep is sometimes the best place for the ‘aha’ moments. I enjoy being overstimulated, in a state of sensory overload, that isn’t the perfect creative environment but when the dust settles it does sometimes lead to new realisations.
Is there an artist or body of work that you would consider your muse?
I consider Constantin Brancussi to be one of the great sculptors, a master of simplicity and material. Louise Bourgeois delved deeper into human psychology than most of us dare. Also they were both a little bit ‘naughty’. Locally Bronwyn Oliver and Neil Taylor have both bought me joy and influenced my thoughts. I also often look to musicians as a source of wonder, David Bowie ‘much too fast to take that test’…maybe I am ‘a wild ride’?
If you had to choose 3 words to describe your artistic style, what would they be?
Inquisitive, optimistic and playful.
Beyond SWELL 2021, is there a forthcoming project you are most excited about?
I have a public artwork soon to be unveiled on Surfers Paradise. The work is called drifting, it refers to both the nature of the coastline and the car culture of the Gold Coast. I hope these two works, one permanent, one temporary, speak to each other in interesting ways along the coast.
What does exhibiting in SWELL 2021 mean to you?
SWELL is an opportunity to bring my work to a new audience, an opportunity to communicate. Every opportunity to communicate, to tell my story publicly, is a privilege.
Is there anything you do to continue developing as an artist? Would you describe yourself as self-taught or formally educated in your artistic practice?
I realised, only recently, that being an artist is both an opportunity to learn and to teach, most importantly to share. Like the coast line I am about to inhabit, there is no fixed border, it is something that is constantly shifting. I have been taught and I have had to learn things alone, I have taught and I have given space to others to learn. The secret to being an artist is always be open, the process is equally painful and beneficial. There is no end to this journey, it is ongoing and infinitely rewarding.
How do you stay connected in the art world?
Talking to artists and engaging with what they do.
How do you spend your free time when you’re not creating?
Sleeping, dancing, loving and gardening.
Who is your biggest supporter?
Me…and my mum. I was given very good advice early in my career, ‘Don’t expect thanks’ it’s a hard pill to swallow but very important. There will be times when no one will understand what you are doing, every artist feels loneliness. If you are speaking with your own unique voice that wont matter. Except at 3 am in a moment of existentialist crisis…which you will overcome.
Courtney Stephens is an emerging creative event producer based in Tweed Heads. After a successful career as a Practice Manager, her passion for the creative arts industry has led her to study a Bachelor of Business in Convention and Event Management. She hopes to balance her love for the arts, culture and nature with her strengths in communication and management to create community based events.