MEET JEREMY SHEEHAN, JOHN VANDERKOLK & MARK GEORGE
What was the inspiration behind your piece for SWELL Sculpture Festival 2022?
Less than 200 meters east of where we are standing right now is a nesting colony of endangered little terns that travel back and forth across the globe each year. It’s one of those incredible journeys and amazing feats of nature that sparks wonder and imagination.
Sometimes even with our best intentions and grand aspirations all we seem to do is get in the way, left alone nature seems to do just fine. Despite all that we do to make it difficult for them, the little terns manage to navigate the challenges of our changing world. Every time they arrive safely they carry messages and parallels we can all sit back and learn from.
Many ancient cultures tell common stories of great floods, tales of ships appearing from over the horizon, as well as their own travels across the ocean and a dramatically changing environment. Those same cultures have studied movements and patterns of birds to predict the future, perhaps we should too.
In a nutshell – we wanted to make something really big. We love the sprit of the little tern… and who doesn’t love a boat!
What does exhibiting in the 20th year of SWELL Sculpture Festival mean to you?
Many things: with everything we are hearing about on the news at the moment, art and people being able to immerse themselves within it is more important than ever. The team at SWELL have been giving a wonderful gift to the community for 20 years, and we are excited to now be a part of it, plus it’s great opportunity to surround ourselves with inspiring artworks, and see our own work in an ideal setting.
Would you rather go into the past and meet your favourite artists or go into the future to see the future of art?
We would definitely need a time machine that does both. Going into the future to see art could be cool but perhaps we might be really disappointed. Into the past would be great too, but we wouldn’t be able to pick just one artist or era. Our favourite artist changes all the time. Are we allowed to change our mind as artists?
Are there any budding artists that you’re excited to see evolve?
Every now and then you come across someone you think has so much potential. Their work is really interesting and has a rawness to it, then they get a real job and disappear.
Kids are the best artists, with no constraints. They are free and not caught up with how good something is and are more than happy to leave it behind. They are a never ending source of inspiration – a bit like outsider art where the artist has no formal background or knowledge around ways of doing the right thing.
If you were a biscuit, which biscuit would you be?
Hmmm, there are so many choices can we pick one each? They would be choc chip, Tim Tam, Jatz cracker – with cheese. But then there’s Iced Vo Vos and the best of all Vita-Wheats with Vegemite and butter worms.
Did you have any favourite artists when you were growing up?
Norman Lindsay, but that was probably for subject matter more than anything, especially for an impressionable 12-year-old.
Brett Whiteley, was always a favourite.
Brancusi, maybe because it was hard to understand his work and so it was intriguing.
Has your art practice changed over time?
Absolutely, there is a never ending and constantly changing source of subject matter and a stream of exciting new materials and ways to use them that is constantly flowing. It is one of the best things about being an artist and inspires you to make work and explore new possibilities.
If we ran into you at the pub, what drink should we offer to buy you?
Two beers and a water – with the water in a fancy glass with cocktail umbrellas and lots of pieces of fruit. There are three of us after all.
What is the trickiest part of being an artist?
There are no tricky parts, it’s really straight forward except for dealing with people, making work, making a living, oh and giving interviews. And then perhaps the big one is second-guessing, that’s why it’s good to ask others opinion and get fresh eyes over your work.
What is the strangest thing or thought that has inspired a piece of artwork, you have created or experienced?
These are really hard questions. We don’t think much, and when we do our thoughts and experiences are all quite strange. One liners can be a really good starting points. So can the provocative work and statements of other artists like Robert Ryman with the Shades of White series and his description of the work getting smaller and smaller. This can spark ideas like a whole work about a millimeter of nothingness.
Do you prefer to create for others or for yourself?
Both in equal amounts. You’re only creating for yourself initially as the frame of reference is the ideas that you want to get out there combined with materials and the medium you’re comfortable with. So, it’s for yourself at that point then when it gets out there it’s for other people. It can be a bit of a compromise too. You have to be happy with it to be able to leave it, and then what happens after that doesn’t matter so much as its outside your influence. It’s often layered. There is an idea to get out, release or free so others can see it and agree, disagree or respond. Whether others like it or not isn’t so important as long as they do respond and don’t just go ‘Meh”, then you’ve failed. If they hate it then you’ve done something, if they like it then you’ve also done something. Sometimes it’s just a furball that you need to cough up.
Joss Smith is an emerging graphic designer based in Tweed Heads, loving everything visual and immersive. Her passion for the creative arts has led her to study a Bachelor of Visual Communication and Graphics. She hopes to balance her love for the arts, culture and nature with her strengths in communication and management to create wicked designs with wicked people.