For the exhibition The Natural Way — a show which focusses on the individual practices and thoughts of art creation — curator Elyss McCleary spoke with each artist about their process and practice. The following interviews are with Robin Warren – whose gentle yet assured abstract works conjure explorations into colour and layered compositions — and Danny Lyons, who continuously inserts himself into various pop culture scenes in digital works that draw upon internet culture.
Interview #1 – Robin Warren
Elyss McCleary: Im going to start of the interview as I have with all the artists involved in this exhibition with a question about you and an action. Was there a time you remember that you first thought I want to make an image of what I see?
Robin Warren: I’ve done representational things, but have sometimes explored an idea just to see what happens. I was pretty good at art in high school, and have been layering things recently.
EM: What was it like in the studio in Perth where you made your formative body of work?
RW: I went to TAFE and made a lot of work. I heard about Arts project in Melbourne and moved here, first to Preston to be near the studio, then house sitting Hampton, and then finally back near Arts Project.
EM: Did you always have a close understanding of colour?
RW: My favourite colours are blue and orange, but I use all the colours.
EM: How do you like to begin a work?
RW: I start in the centre and then work outwards.
EM: Has moving to Melbourne and being part of a large collective of artists here at Arts Project influenced or changed the way you work?
RW: The textas and materials have made a change in my work — it’s where the blending happens.
EM: Is there anyone or a few artists that you admire or have had a strong positive impact on your practice?
RW: I’ve always thought music had an influence more than visual arts, in particular the band CREAM. But if I did have to choose an artist of influence it would be Salvador Dali.
Interview #2 – Danny Lyons
Elyss McCleary: The works featured in The Natural Way are photos you have made with collage that have yourself pictured performing in them. When did you start making this series?
Danny Lyons: I started in 2017. James [Arts Project studio manager] got me interested in the idea through my I love music. I love music, I love movies and the idea of doing photography has given me the opportunity to express my ideas and about how I feel about it.
EM: I’m interested in how you set up these scenarios for the photoshoot?
DL: I come to Penny [digital program studio artist] with the ideas in my head, I tell her what the ideas is, and we find ways to transfer it into an image. We put it up and we show everyone. I’m still in the process of evening things out.
EM: Do you prepare your set and outfits?
DL: Some costumes I’ve got at home, and some I had to photoshop off the computer with the help of Eden Menta — one of the artists that works here. She helped me paint my face like Robbie Williams from the Let Me Entertain you clips, which was one one of the first ones I did two years ago.
EM: Great! Is it fun to do that?
DL: I get a lot of enjoyment out of it. Some of the things are funny and happy, like pretending to be Rocky Balboa boxing and Rambo cause I’m a fan of Sylvester Stallone. I find a picture I really like and interests me, and I try to do the poses to match the picture.
EM: Tell me about these footy photographs.
DL: I’m a big fan of Essendon. I have been since I was little. I always want to see them playing well either in person or on TV. And we came close to the season just gone. It’s been almost 20 years since we won a premiership and I’d love to see that happen one day. The picture of Joe Danahoe and me in the coaches box and the press conference — it captures where they go and talk about the game, their thoughts on how well they played what they did right and what they did wrong, and what they hope to improve and make it better, and the steps it takes to win the grand final.
EM: How about the image of you and ET, what brought you to create this?
DL: Well, I just love the ET movie and I’ve loved it for so many years. It was the first movie I ever saw growing up and I reckon it’s the best work Steven Spielberg has ever done. It was a beautiful friendship, and there were so many people that wanted to be in the picture with ET. I put myself in the picture so now I can be part of the picture too with ET. I really enjoyed doing that.