Artist Inquisition: Mauro Trentin

Words - Jess McGuire Photos - Mauro Trentin

The Melbourne Arts Club team is chuffed to be introducing a new ongoing series on the site where we metaphorically sit our favourite artists and curators down in an uncomfortable metal chair in a barren windowless room, shine a bright and unforgiving fluroescent light into their eyes, and in the style of a grizzled detective with a tragic backstory we interrogate them until they spill their emotional guts. Metaphorically. We'd never ACTUALLY do that as we can't afford to lose the inevitable law suits, obviously.

Please put your virtual hands together for our very first victim respondent and the artist responsible for our upcoming exhibition ‘People and Places’ A Photographic Visual Journey of Vietnam.... Mauro Trentin!

Girls Dinking_2014


Tell us a little about your exhibition at Melbourne Arts Club. My exhibition is reflective of my 4 years spent living and working in Vietnam. While living there I was in the fortunate position to travel within Saigon and Vietnam. I would always take my camera with me whilst travelling. The exhibition is a visual portrayal of every day, real life living in Vietnam.

How did you first get involved in art - were you one of those little kids who always loved being creative, or is it something that came later? Yes, I've always had a passion for music and photography. I was given a small compact film Kodak camera as a child. I purchased my next camera shortly before embarking on a backpacking trip across Europe when I was 22. When I returned from this trip, I saved up enough money to purchase my first film SLR.

I continued to travel every year there after and the camera was always with me.

Where do you make your art, and how long is the process for you? Is it a slow burn and you find yourself working on pieces over a long period of time, or when inspiration strikes, it's all done and dusted relatively quickly? I generally take 'people' shots, so I look for someone doing something a little out of the ordinary or interesting. If they have an interesting appearance or there is an interesting backdrop, that also helps. I think people that have a passion for photography and are out to take photos, tend to notice particular things going on around them that others may not notice.

Travelling provides many opportunities for this type of photography, particularly in developing countries as opposed to developed western countries.

How does living and working in Melbourne influence your work? Melbourne has many talented artists and musicians. Surrounding yourself with like minded people provides great motivation for getting out there and 'doing your thing'.

Who or what do you turn to for inspiration on days when creativity just isn’t flowing? Luckily, these occurrences are relatively rare. However, if I'm in a city and I'm struggling to get some good shots, I will visit a book store and find photography or travel books about the city that I'm in.

It just may be that I need to change tack on what to photograph and further think outside the square.

What is your favourite artwork of yours and why? This is a difficult question. It's a bit like asking which is your favourite child! Hehe. Let me put this another way, the location where I've best enjoyed taking photos is without doubt Mexico and South East Asia. Mexico because of the vibrancy of the people, architecture and colour. South East Asia because of my connection through living and visiting this region in recent times. Culturally, it is so very diverse from what we are used to.

What is your favourite artwork of someone else’s, and why? There is an Australian photographer in Vietnam by the name of Neil Featherstone whose work I admire greatly.

Is there an artwork in this exhibition that you’re most proud of, or one that has a particularly interesting or funny backstory? There are 45 photography pieces in this exhibition and I can recall very clearly the lead up to how each was taken. Most have an interesting story.

'Rain Catcher' and 'The girl with a rose tattoo' are the two feature photos. It was a tough decision as there were about another 10 photos vying for that title.

'The girl with the rose tattoo'

'Rain Catcher' for example came about after being caught in a deluge. Once it stopped raining, I exited from where I was taking shelter. Shortly after, I pass this house where I see a young girl collecting run off rain water with a small plastic bag. She sees me the exact moment I click the shutter. Her facial expression and eyes says a great deal about her reaction.

Mauro Trentin What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given? It's okay to make mistakes, just as long as you learn from them and don't make them again. This is also relevant to photography. There will be many photos taken that simply don't work for whatever reason. Understand why it doesn't work and set out to not repeat it in future. What question do you wish we'd asked you, and what would your answer have been? What advice would I give others looking to get into photography?

[ED: Oooh, nice one. *adds to list of future questions*]

1. Do some research and get an understanding of basic photography techniques.

2. Understand your camera functions.

3. Nothing good ever comes easy so practise and take many shots. Make adjustments to your settings and see what works best. Keep a record of this so you don't forget.

You can catch Mauro Trentin's exhibition ‘People and Places’ A Photographic Visual Journey of Vietnam at Melbourne Arts Club - we're having an opening night party on Friday 26th February from 6pm to 10pm (Photos to see! Music to hear! Booze available to purchase! Good times!) so please swing past if you're out and about.

‘People and Places’ A Photographic Visual Journey of Vietnam will be showing at Melbourne Arts Club from Friday 26th February - Wednesday 3rd March during gallery hours. Melbourne Arts Club Gallery is located at 176 – 180 High Street, Preston.