Sculptor and painter Andrew Turier (NSW) recently completed his residency at Fremantle Arts Centre. We caught up with him to have a chat and check out what he worked on during his two month stint.

What led you to become an artist?

We were always hands on as children. We had easy access to all the usual carpentry tools, it is simply a compulsion, the same as it is to talk to someone, to make yourself understood, to understand something for yourself, to make something that you don’t have and don’t know of any other way to attain it. Here’s one: you are five years old and impressed to see a big boy (who is seven) wearing a pair of jeans with the cuffs folded up… so you fold up the cuffs of your own long pants… art!

Where is your favourite place to create art and why?

The process of ‘creation’ is really with us all the time. I always carry a notebook and a pencil wherever I go. Every idea is a surprise to me, they are found objects that are then cultivated or polished. The beginning of the creation of a painting, sculpture or print can occur absolutely anywhere.

The actual making of a painting or sculpture occurs in a quiet studio. The space should be free from sensory interference, except for the distant sounds of trees, birds, the whisper of passing cars, music from a distant radio, indistinct voices, an aeroplane, someone coughing and a dog barking far away are all very pleasant and give a non-invasive soundscape of a peaceful town or city. I like to work in natural light starting about dawn and watching the light slowly and continuously changing throughout the day. Its better not to be fenced in by a clock or mobile phone.

All works by Andrew Turier

All works by Andrew Turier

The work you’ve been making at FAC is very graphic and text based, which seems to be quite different from your earlier works. What inspired these pieces?

I have never been far from words and slogan-like phrases, possibly because our culture is one where the brief, startling phrase dominates much of the ‘mediated’ landscape (TV ads, various headline situations, magazines, etc).

I had always loved the look of images in paintings where the represented objects were themselves representations of objects for example a painting of a sculpture.

The word/poem/grid paintings developed relatively rapidly. I loved the look of the words organised using a strict set of rules. You can figure the rules out for yourself if you look at the pictures intently enough. These rules forced me to search for alternative phrasings as solutions to the ‘problems’, and it is the searching that forms part of this wonderful adventure in language and painting.

The ongoing inspiration is to struggle and wrestle joyfully with these (often impossible) word puzzles and, hopefully, finally attain a sense of unity, a solution, to all the levels of the ‘game’.

What’s your favourite gallery?

I am extending the question here, a favourite gallery implies favourite exhibitions/paintings. As a schoolboy I became familiar with the Art Gallery of NSW and was especially impressed by the exhibition Two Decades of American Painting, which was shown in 1966 or 1967. The size of the works was often large, and the subject matter notionally common but intense. The paintings were shown in relatively subdued lighting with soft spotlights on each work, giving them a radiance, a powerful and majestic appearance. James Rosenquist’s I Love You With My Ford and Growth Plan were stand outs for me, and of course as a schoolboy I was instantly hooked on Lichtenstein’s work (unsurprisingly I can’t remember which of Lichtenstein’s works it was, maybe I Don’t Care I’d Rather Drown Than Call Brad For Help).

What’s up next for you when you head back to Newcastle?

I will continue to make some more of my word paintings and have some ideas for sculptures in the form of canvas plant pots. I would like to paint without words for a while as a silent relief from the precision and inner dialogue of the words. I may make a number of mirror maze pictures.

You can find out more about Andew Turier and view more of his works here.