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Ari Lawson

“It’s great being able to look around me and be directed by the visual stimuli”

Ari in his studio at home

What are the limitations of having a studio that is also your room? 

There’s a lot, for one the lack of space itself, storage is terrible. The dichotomy between trying to maintain an artistic space and also a liveable nice bedroom that you don’t hate being in is quite difficult but rewarding. As much as having more space would be awesome, it’s nice to have everything around me. As I mostly do photographic work, editing is ideal in here with so much imagery and inspiration around me. 

You have a lot of your own work hanging up, I was wondering if you could tell me a bit about your photographic process? 

It’s very documentary, having it surrounding the room can definitely trap you. It’s quite repetitive to an extent, perhaps consistent is a better word.  It’s great being able to look around me and be directed by the visual stimuli. On my computer, I am really bad at storing images and it just becomes a mess, physically it’s a lot easier to process. They are like physical files, but then there are prohibitions of doing that, the costs of the prints and the time cost as well.

How do you balance full time study with your personal practice? 

Honestly, with difficulty, I definitely don’t have the money for the cost of film. Fortunately, I just learnt to develop my own on friday and we are scanning all of that this coming friday so I won’t have to rely on Camera House and their twice a week black and white development anymore. 

There’s also some images that surprise me, there’s a few impressionist paintings, how do you stay inspired? 

I try and keep a really broad sense of my inspirations, whether it directly influences me or if it’s to avoid stagnation in looking at the same things. I’ve been trying to watch heaps of documentaries on Kanopy which is a ‘stan-like’ video streaming service but for art-house films and docos as that’s a more constructive way to consume media. 

Your room seems to reflect your mix of inspirations perfectly ! 

Yeah its in nicer state than before, previously that wall was separated between my own photography, which is the six by fours, and others. While a lot of my work is on display, having a desk and drawers to keep my stuff in is really nice. Combining my work with those who inspire me allow me to stay motivated. 

Most of your photos aren’t taken here, how does your studio expand beyond this room? 

I guess I see my space as an extension of myself and a way of giving permanence to the moments that I see as important. I do some other work in this space like painting and a lot of editing in here but yeah, the more important factor is the camera itself. I wish I did could use this studio to create more images though, having some nice lighting would be good. Really I just need to invest in a bunch of sheets because I have no free space in this room, I need one blank wall, but that’s a luxury of living out of home I reckon. 

A lot of your imagery is skate related, how does this side of your life influence your work? 

 What I find most appealing about both practices (skateboarding and photography) is their spontaneity. And that comes together in the sense that I don’t really plan out a lot of my photos beyond seeing the moment occur and the same goes for skating, it’s quite fluid and it depends on the obstacles around you, which I guess is a good metaphor for creating. Photography and skating are both really accessible. I am also super big on nostalgia, which is attainable through a trifecta of skating, fashion and film photography because they are all a performance in a sense. I take photos for myself, but you are constantly thinking about how you will be perceived by others or how many likes you’ll get. I’m aware of the likes still, it still bothers me, it (instagrams decision to not show likes) didn’t work, I still check them. 

How do you present your documentary work at uni, is it similar to what you present for assessment? 

Yeah to an extent, I mean there are some differences. My uni studies have allowed me to evolve the expression of photography, like a zine for example that I made last semester. In designing that I was thinking about my space, and how these walls speak. I feel like you can pursue the same sort of topics in an educational context but just elaborate beyond being purely documentary. There’s always creative thoughts that play in my work, but the concept itself is the documentation of one thing, the subject may change but I find it most engaging to capture a lot of one thing and collate that into one space.

Loren Orsillo

“Objects mean everything to me”

Loren in her studio at Carclew

How long have you been in this space? 

Since February of this year, it took a bit of breaking in. But as soon as I got that couch in here things started to come into place.

Do you think of your studio as a second home? 

Yeah definitely, to the point where it is almost an escape if I need to get away from home. It’s a little island of solitude sometimes. Where you can just come and be in you own thoughts, not be judged, and just be your most natural self in a lot of ways. Usually you’re up here by yourself, its a pretty peaceful place for that reason. 

How does the space you are working in influence your practice? 

Massively, I’m such a big believer in this concept that someone wrote about, I can’t remember who its was as I heard it through someone else…. The idea of the ‘studio ecosystem’ ! All the little objects that accumulate in your studio, they are alive right? And they kind of work their way into your paintings, which is very clearly the situation here. Your studio becomes this breathing ecosystem that absorbs objects of painting but also objects of the outside world. My paintings are very much about that amalgamation of the two worlds, in terms of talking about painting’s history, but also concerns of the real world and how they fit together. My studio is influenced by this hugely because its so important for me to have things in my studio. When you first came her at the start of the year and it was a bit of a blank canvas I really struggled to make work. I need ‘stuff’ to bounce off of. 

Do you see your studio as a 3d mood board? 

Yeah! Absolutely! And, some stuff just sits in the studio, for months and months, and one day you walk in and think “yep, I know what to do with that”. The fact that it’s there is the most important part. And then the other part of it relates to the show that’s going to be here at Carclew which is entirely dependent on space, its an installation piece. It’s going to be a really fun show, but you can see how these stairs have become a drying rack. 

There’s so many canvases! 

It’s going to be in the Carclew foyer, these canvases are going to be bumper to bumper across the beam the entire way around that rom. The mass is completely in response to that space. However, the way that I have made the canvases has been entirely dictated by this studio space. The colours are dripping onto each others canvases as a result of the ‘drying rack’. It had everything to do with space. 

What’s something in your studio that has transcended locations? 

I love this question as I am so excited about objects! Objects mean everything to me. Im’s just looking around … there’s a thing … its super weird. It’s this! 

A sink strainer? 

Yeah, when I was in second year my friends and I used this to open up our paint cans, and it just stayed in my studio when they finished studying and I went on to do honours. It just stayed there, and no one thought to take it and use it for the sink again. When I left uni I felt like I had to take it as it’s a weird lucky charm. It’s the most significant studio object, and most sentimental thing, a horseshoe that you hang on a door. I’d be so sad if it ever went missing. 

I notice you are holding a hammer, how does physicality and processes of ‘work’ relate to your practice? 

I have things here like a drill, and all that sort of stuff, but the most basic ways of making just make so much sense to me. In the same way that I love taking photos but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to relate to a digital camera. I have to take film as I can understand the way the film advances along the camera. It’s so much about being able to understand the physicality of it for me. 

So thats why, even though I have so many tools in the studio, I always go for the hammer. Those pieces in the corner are a good representation of how important physicality is to me. When I was a kid, I would lock myself in dad’s shed and build all this random shit, just with hammers, nails and bits of wood. That, more than anything, informs a lot of what I do, the really crude, almost childish way I tend to make things. 

The use of tools has always been important to me, but particularly, the tools that you don’t even have to plug in. The concept of physical force, and maybe the result is something a little bit crude, but it’s something more personal. 

Do you like the control that analogue tools have? 

Yes! Even if the result is shittier because of it, you have full control of it, it’s just you and your hands. I don’t think I could ever instruct other people to make for me. It’s important, even with the risk of a piece looking shit at the end. It’s so important that I made it with my hands.