What attracts you to your subjects? Is there anything in particular you search for when looking for your inspirations?
I enjoy painting people and the natural world. The people I choose to portray express a range of sentiments and express emotions that we all feel in our lives; for example, we can all relate to feelings of vulnerability, joy, confidence, shyness, awkwardness, fear, mystery, peace or despair and I wanted to represent all of these different emotions on the wall. Most importantly, on one level or another, I can relate personally to each selected image, and elements of myself are imprinted in each one. In addition, I am in awe of the natural world around me, and I love to paint small detailed studies of some of my favourite natural creatures (birds, leaves, butterflies ect.). Also, for Solid Gold, I wanted to include a number of colourful abstract shapes within the installation, in order to add another layer of inquiry and mystery, to the overall composition.
Can you describe why your process is important to your art? In the sense that it’s an insanely worthwhile process considering the detail you’re able to capture, have you found that it’s become more of a ritual?
The painting process is so important; I always produce slowly, drawing the image is the starting point, and next, a considerable amount of time is spent filling in all the features, layering acrylic paint as a base, and then ultimately refining the details using watercolour pencils. I also enjoy using a tiny pair of scissors to cut out and around some of my subjects. I have been working in this way for decades, and it is has become a daily ritual (it is just something that I do)! I absolutely love working small scale and capturing fine details – I could never imagine myself with a large paintbrush in my land and randomly brushing paint around on canvas!
What do you hope audiences experience when viewing Wonderwall?
For me personally, scale is a relative concept – It is not about size or a single image, but ultimately is about how one image relates to another and how collectively, these images / figures seem to come together as they fall apart. Some figures procure the feeling of being trapped (hermetically sealed) in moments of introspection, isolation, self-questioning or melancholy. Other figures attempt to interact with others in the installation; while there are others that are obviously caught up in the process of posing for the camera: they stare straight out at the viewer and are intensely aware of being watched. I always consider each painting to be individual and separate (little private stories), yet to exist as a fragment contained within a whole. My paintings are not meant to be viewed independently or separately, with each one implicating its own symbolic, fixed meaning; rather in essence, each painting characterises an interpretation which is “unintentional” (seemingly unfinished or open-ended), and thus susceptible to an endless array of supplementary readings when juxtaposed with additional paintings. In bringing these separate, diverse images together, I am interested in how they indirectly relate to one another, ask questions and create ambiguous, open-ended narratives. Consequently, I delight in leaving the responsibility of interpretation with the viewer; thus (through ambiguity) I allow the viewer to imagine his / her own version of the work.
How does it feel to be a part of the first major exhibition at the new HOTA Gallery?
It still feels a bit surreal, but we are super excited to be part of the exhibition. It’s humbling to be exhibited with so many great artists and we can’t wait to see everyone’s work.
As brothers did the three of you always have a shared interest in the environment and conservation?
I think growing up where we did on the tweed gave us an appreciation for the beauty of the Australian landscape, we were really fortunate to have parents that fostered this through their own interests in conservation as well. We have each ended up in different places in terms of our work, but the overriding theme of place and how the natural environment informs that is something that we still share and believe in strongly.
How do you hope visitors use the space you’re creating with Lost Topography?
We would love it if people found it a nice place to sit. We would also be stoked if people recognised/liked some of the native plants used in the installation, and hopefully this starts a thought process about the use of native planting and how we approach our natural environment.
What was the motivation behind the three Hough brothers joining forces and talents as JIL Studios?
We had talked about working together for a while and the open call from HOTA seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally combine our interests and explore how that could work as something cohesive. Working together for us is also a way to do something we love and hopefully explore ideas that people find interesting.