I always needed to become an artist but when I was young I didn’t think I had what it took.
I was traveling and living in Italy in my early 20s when I had an epiphany: the misery of failing at something I cared about was better than the misery of never trying… so I took the leap and applied to Chelsea Art school in London, was accepted and never looked back.
Initially my work dealt with issues of ‘self’ or identity which stem from the sense of split between my birthplace of Australia and my Chinese ancestral origins. When I took up Zen Buddhist practice, I realised that only a small portion of self could be understood through issues of identity. We are much bigger than that. Individual life is shaped and changed through an infinite number of experiences. The fabric of what we are is caused through our connection to the world and ultimately to cosmos.
Essentially I think artists (or at least I am) are driven by nagging existential questions like ‘who am I?’, ‘what am I?’…’is there any meaning in life?’ I love the poet Rilke’s response to a young poet who asked the same questions – it’s learning to love the questions and live them through, it’s not about attaining any final answer. That is what keeps me going – living the questions through my art.
Maintaining the rights of the artist is very important. Artists work with intangibles and so we don’t fit in at all with any economic rationalist logic. What artists do is make the invisible undercurrents of human interaction visible and that’s an extremely important job. Copyright gives respect and recognition to the artist’s contribution to society and community.
My inspirations are many. At the moment I love the work of Olufur Eliasson but I have loved the work of Ad Reinhardt and Mark Rothko since I was a teenager and that love endures. But the main day to day inspiration comes from my meditation practice.
I heard about Viscopy* when it first started. I thought it was fantastic that there was an organisation prepared to collate and manage how artists’ images are reproduced. That kind of task is beyond the scope of any individual.