Artist Inquisition: Paul Handley
Words: @lauren_guymerImages: courtesy of artist
As part of our ongoing Artist Inquisition series, we interviewed artist Paul Handley who is currently exhibiting his solo exhibition 'Liberte' at KINGS ARI. Paul has exhibited extensively both in Australia and abroad, including in The Substation Contemporary Art Prize in Melbourne, the Contemporary Art Award at the Waikato Museum in New Zealand, and shows in Athens, Berlin, and the Netherlands, to name a few!
Les Voyageurs, 2016, pigment print on vinyl, 150 cm x 110 cm, Image courtsey of artist.
Hello Paul, can you please tell us a little bit about your solo exhibition, Liberte, showing at Kings ARI this September?
My exhibition at KINGS consists of series of photographs, text based works and sculptural elements created after a recent trip to Europe. After spending some time in Athens, I travelled to the Greek Island of Lesvos, situated in the northern Aegean Sea off the coast of Turkey in early June 2016, to photograph the piles of discarded life jackets from the estimated 500,000 refugees who have landed on the northern shores of Lesvos since early 2015. The Island of Lesvos is one of the first European landing points for the thousands of refugees escaping the humanitarian crisis within the Middle East. Their final destination was usually Germany, but many are still held up on the northern boarders of Greece, after Macedonia closed their boarders in early 2016. I have also reproduced on canvas and a vinyl banner, with quotes from the streets of Athens, depicting protest slogans which were sprayed on building facades and monuments during peak refugee flows from over the last 12 months.
Is there an artwork in this exhibition that you’re most proud of, or one that has a particularly interesting backstory?
The life jacket images. The Epic expanse of the sea of life jackets within the rolling volcanic landscape and the symbolic nature of these images. Each jacket reflecting the individual struggle as the global flow of refugees seeking to escape the uprising of violence and displacement from their homelands.
Having exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally, is travel a major part of your artistic development?
Not as such, my interest in global political issues and ideas, be it the Arab Spring uprising in 2011 or the Occupy movement around that time, have provided a platform for me to make responsive work via internet submissions and by invitations to exhibit. Some of my recent work included ephemera text based pieces which were emailed. The printing and installation was undertaken by the gallery.
How does living and working in Melbourne influence your work?
No influence as such, but artistically and culturally is great place to live and work.
What is your creative process like and where do you make your art? 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’m always thinking about projects and ideas but also spent a lot of time writing proposals, entering Awards and applying for funding. I usually work toward exhibitions and projects over short time periods and find working under pressure best for problem solving solutions.
Who or what do you turn to for inspiration on days when creativity just isn’t flowing?
My 12 year old Japanese Spitz dog Max !
Meeting Point for Democracy ( Place de la Bastille ), 2016, pigment print, 150 cm x 110 cm, Image courtesy of artist.