Artist Interviews 2021
By Johnny Otto
You went to Queensland College of Art. Was that your first experience with art or had you already been creating and just wanted to learn more? Why go to College for art?
I was always attracted to art as a kid but it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I got really into it because at high school we could choose our subjects so I chose all the art and hands on creative ones. (I think you call it junior high here?). I found school so boring so choosing these subjects made me follow through and obviously I didn’t take any advice from anyone about what would be the best subjects to choose from for a successful career. I think it kept me out of trouble.
So after school I went to university (college) and started with a degree which I could try different subjects like 3D design, photography, theory and fine art. Again I just really enjoyed and excelled in the fine art subjects so I decided to major in Fine Art. It was really an organic process of just following what I enjoyed and what was in a sense easy. I went to College because I didn’t really know what else to after school and it is different in Australia because you don’t have to pay the way you do here for your education. I think going to art school is highly beneficial because it teaches you how to process and think critically, plus if you have good teachers who are artists you can really learn from them. I had that and I still here their voice to this day when making decisions. If education is not an option I would just watch videos of artists talk and work because that’s in a way was basically a large part of studying.
Anna Carey, Amore Motel 2020, Giclee print, 89 x 134cm
What is the art scene like in Australia? Is there a lot of street art like in New York and Los Angeles or is the focus more on being an Artist who creates for galleries? Or both?
Hmm, I would have to say there is probably more of a focus on making work for galleries as the cities are different to LA and New York . There probably is a lot more public art works in the streets that are usually supported by the government and provide really great work for the public. However, this opportunity usually comes after artists have established there practice in a gallery and is just an extension of their work and do not set out to be a ‘public artist’.
However, in saying that city of Melbourne has a really big street art scene that’s is worth checking out.
You create miniature models of hotels and other venues. Do you secretly want to be small and live in those spaces? What is the drive to create small things?
No I wouldn’t want live in the places I make, most do not seem safe..haha. However, I would stay in some for few nights for fun.
Working with miniatures was a very intuitive process where I just started making miniatures based of the old beach shacks that were being demolished in my hometown. However, I slowly learned why I was attracted to them. Firstly, they really tie in with my concept as miniatures are usually a way to have something, we cannot obtain in a life size reality (like the iconic buildings such as the Eiffel tower in a snow dome) or a way to preserve a memory which I was trying to do with the beach shacks.
Also, miniatures are an imaginary object and I aim to create an imaginary space for the viewer. It has also been said when you master the miniature you master the subject, so I think dealing with the miniature allows me to understand these places and critique them.
Anna Carey, Pink Flamingo 2017, 130cm x 86cm, Giclee print
Can you take me through the creative process of creating a model? Did you study architecture? Take photos? Draw or sketch out your ideas? And what materials do you use?
I didn’t study architecture, but my mother did and I defiantly think that influenced the way I see. I am also attracted to these places because of memory and place, I started to make them as a reaction to my childhood neighborhood that was disappearing through rapid development. So most places I make are based on family feeling of deja vu that brings up memories and experiences which I encounter through my own urban experience. Also google maps has become a tool to revisit or research places. I am interested in this bury experience of memory and imagination and from there I reimagine the places and build them and as I am making it memories change and sharpen so the model becomes a process of memory retrieve and usually the work is based on many different imaginations and places kind of like memory itself, it is hazy and memory usually comes into contact with an imagination point. I use foam core, paper, paint, perspex and recently I have tried some dollhouse architectural elements. Anything that will create an illusion for the camera. From there I photograph the miniature and the photograph is like a magnifying glass and creates a disorientating space.
A few museums have your work now. Who was the first and how did that happen?
The first was The Gold Coast City Art Gallery which is the Regional Gallery from my home town. The curator Virginia Rigney was interested in the fact that I was making work about the city and the transient nature of the place and therefore saw it valuable to the city collection. My college/university show was at the Gold Coast City Gallery so that is how the work was exposed. All the other acquisitions came from showing with my Galleries in Australia, in which they share my work with institutions and collectors.
Anna Carey, Lost in Paradise, 2019, giclee print, 84 × 125 cm
A great deal of Artists aren’t very good at creating their own PR. Is that something you like to do or do at all?
I don’t really do the PR side of things; In the past it has been the galleries doing the PR side of things. However, since I don’t have galleries in the USA I recently have made a conscious effort to try and apply for opportunities in LA/USA because I live here and want to share my work as I have made so much about the place.
In an ideal world I would prefer not to the PR side and let the galleries promote my work because it takes so much time away from the studio. I have noticed since I have been doing that side of things my studio practice is slipping big timeand that’s not good either… I have been thinking about this a lot lately as people always say artists need to do this to succeed and personally, I wish that wasn’t the case and think it is not always the case when looking at the careers of artists I admire. With Instagram and social media It is now all about the PR and the brand when I guess back in the 70’s it was about the art, there was no such thing as branding art. I often wonder whether I should ‘play the game’ more and yeah maybe I should but it’s not something I really enjoy doing. I guess I am old fashion. But I do think Instagram and promotion is a great tool and am very aware that if I had 1 million followers, I might have a different opinion about it all.
Anna Carey, Dream Cloud 2020, Giclee print, 89 x 134cm
You’re also a filmmaker? Can you tell us about that? What sort of films? Are they tiny, too?
Yes the films are tiny! They are films of the models and are very different to the photographs, less staged and reveal the fact that they are models. They are a bit disjointed and fragmented like a dream. I really want to develop and experiment further with the films.
Anna Carey, Yellow Moon 2017, 130cm x 86cm, Giclee print
Any shows coming up or are you on hold because of Covid? How has it changed the way you create and show your work?
I did have a few shows canceled because of covid but it was because some went online instead. I don’t think it changed the way I work but more so the way it is presented. Now I am just planning on making new work for a show at the end of the year and have some works that I will show online at Artereal Gallery in Australia later this year. The online shows are different to the way I present work because it’s just the images and I wont be framing them until they are sold. I also have a two series of work on display this year at LAX airport in terminal one for their public program with DCA (Department of cultural affairs).