Meet the Artist: Harley Manifold
Tell us about yourself and your work.
When did you get interested/involved in art? Were you a creative kid growing up? I actually wanted to be an Air Force pilot for my entire life up until when I was 18 – I did all the right classes and found out that I needed glasses as my eyes were not good enough, that’s when I became a Visual Artist ahah! I loved building things with my hands as a kid and copying cartoons of Footrot Flats until I sent my parents made. Though I still have one of my first paintings from when I was a child on my wall in the studio, it’s weird (already) and has a lot of blue spheres floating around a beach with mountains and a shipwreck on the beach (horrid yellow) it really shows absolutely no artistic promise at all ahah!
If you could master another medium, what would it be?
Music would be the other medium, though I always think the allure of music is the instant connection with the audience – though I imagine some musicians have played a song enough times that it looses the initial feeling that it was grown with. Though that direct audience feedback is something that is lacking I have found in the art world unless you are lucky enough to know the people who buy your work J Or maybe I would like to master Emojis ahah ;) They are a visual language right?
How does living and working in Melbourne influence your work?
I’ve just moved down to Torquay on the coast, the first thing that has become apparent is that I am very sentimental about Melbourne. And have infact been painting more of Melbourne since I left, more memories, dreams and places. These are places that now mean more to me than when I was actually living there. Sentimentality and narratives are strong in me. Before I moved to Melbourne and the first year that I was in Melbourne – to me – resonate as some of the strongest works that I did of Melbourne… Maybe I just needed the change that I now have to love it again… It is very exciting for me when I see the jagged skyline of architecture piercing the sky driving into Melbourne now, they seem at once like teeth of a large vicious creature, and people huddling in a group…
What role do you think artists play in society?
Some artists are good at holding a mirror up to society, whether anyone decides to look in it or take any notice is another question – it seems post-fact that it is noted… These days artists are lucky that we can interact with society at large in more ways than just the galleries, I think public art is a very exciting area and something my imagination really feels like diving into – though the opportunities for someone like me who is seen as a 2d artist and painter are not as engaging as I yearn for.
What is your favourite piece of artwork of someone else's and why?
That’s like asking me my favourite song… Right now I just swapped another artist for one of their first works and it is just so strong and beautiful and maybe psychological that I love it – even though it is unfinished! As for a particular well known work, I keep coming back to Gustav Klimt’s ‘Pine Forest’ – even on screen it has such an extraordinary rhythm, I think it would be overwhelming in person. It might not be apparent but it has been influencing my recent work – trying to be less anal-retentive with sticking to figurativism and the rules of physics and just letting the paint lay where it needs to lie. I think there is something to be said for just enjoying paint for the sake of it being paint, it’s a 3d object, most people assume paintings are flat until you look closer =D. It is a hard fight though to balance out the want to reproduce something perfectly vs painterly.
What are some things you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?
That it is possible to survive as an artist and have a rich and rewarding life, though you might have to do a few other part time jobs at first. I also wish I was more open to criticism at the start of my painting life – these days I yearn for it and have a good group of painting friends who thrash me for being lazy in my art or for taking a shortcut that isn’t at the very least aesthetically pleasing. I think the hardest thing as an artist who puts so much of myself in my work is to take criticism, but it is the most important thing to learn to take! My art would be self-indulgent (it still is hah) and possibly horrible if I didn’t take a few comments on the chin and try and learn from them, which doesn’t mean I always agree with them.
What was the last really weird dream you had?
I painted it, ha!
The Other Art Fair opens this weekend, 4 - 7 May at The Facility in Kensington. Get more info here.
--- Words: Julia HowlandImages: Courtesy of the gallery/artist.