Within the past 23 years I have acquired the multiple disciplines, skills and technical practices to have brought me to where I am currently as a practicing artist. In 1983 I started as a junior (apprentice), with the Gas and Fuel corporation, then the largest commercial visual merchandising studio’s in Australia. Here I was to learn from the rich and varied professionals, design, scenic art, sculpture, construction and the multiple workshop practices. In this thespian haven I would eventually study under Henry Smith, sculptor and the original prop maker from the Melbourne Theatre Company.
I was 17 years old when I did my apprenticeship as a commercial artist. I was taught craft, drafting and construction by artisans, reproductionists, illusionists, masters. It was about aesthetics and technique, precision, flamboyancy, extreme, colour and movement, theatricality. I did my apprenticeship in one of the oldest commercial art house in Melbourne, born of the thespian world, a world which exists no more.
After my 3 year apprenticeship I then went on to become a freelance prop maker/commercial sculptor and scenic artist working in Melbourne as a commercial artist on interiors and events and small theatrical performances.
Within the following 4 years I would also travel extensively across the globe, drawing on the emotion and intellectual stimulus and knowledge, seeing and observing the great masters whom had passed down their techniques, skills and emotional awareness. This form of study had been taught to me during my apprenticeship, the study of a young artist learning the respect and intimate details of what he has been taught and what it is inside him that wants and needs to create. To smell and live in the world of art, to taste culture and feel the hand of the ones before him, this is the school of influence and belief.
NIDA for me was not about the label Designer, it was a chance I saw to allow my work not to be stagnant within a gallery or viewers mind. This was the chance to collaborate and experiment, to breath life into anything. Theatre is the only artistic discipline to involve every form of artist practice, it is the un-cobbled stallion which free flows within and into every artistic form.
When I studied at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts it was all about philosophical and intellectual meaning. I would here learn to question and answer everything, to influence and be influenced and discern every mark I was to make. I could give you a myriad of philosophical meanings… how many of them would truly be intellectual would be debatable. Intellectual design stinks of ascetic value, what it is worth to artist or audience may be mediocrity.
After graduating from the design course I joined Richard Roxsbourgh’s Burning House. With the production of ‘That Eye the Sky’ and my graduation movement piece I was to start my theatrical design career of with 2 shows running in Leo Schofields 1994 Melbourne Festival.
My career as a designer and visual director has spanned over 13 years allowing me to design across the multiple disciplines of theatre/television/film/events and exhibitions.
I have taken my core belief, ‘the organic process of discovery and collaboration’ and adapted it to a vast array of projects and companies. My design practices have always derived from a very strong visual presence and from a vast technical knowledge gained from my apprenticeship and my training at NIDA.
As a professional designer, writer, director of theatre and film I learnt the art of free form, abandonment. I discovered emotion, and the art of pure emotion, the continuous line, the line that started from aesthetic technique, through philosophical debate, to discovery of ownership, and finally abandonment… freedom. In 1998 I wrote and directed my first short film, a finalist at Trop Fest, on the strength of this and my time as a designer for film and television I was to receive the FTO’s Young Film Makers grant to complete my first funded short film ‘Burnout’ (see attached). In 2002 I was to receive the first round of funding from the FTO’s, new script and feature film development program, ‘Aura’.
Since my first film at NIDA as a 2nd year design student, I have written/directed and designed 10 films, I have written with the collective ‘Many Hands’, two television series (yet to be produced) and am currently co directing a feature length Cross Platform, Multi Media feature film ‘123k’.
In 1999 I held my first solo exhibition in a response to all, and all that had come before. I discovered the moment, the innate response emotionally born of a deeper consciousness and released. I was to experience the solitary Zen like state of myself and began to see, through my eyes from my heart, I drew of my senses and began the new journey to gather all I had experienced and bring them to one. “Ice Works’
This practice has seen me have many solo shows as well as group shows, refining and experimenting with the multiple disciplines I have gathered over my practicing life as an artist. I have taken my multi disciplines of aesthetic design, story telling, theatre, performance, film and visual art and brought them forth in a body of work which sits both in a gallery space and on the stage and the screen. The theatrical process of my visual practice has taken on as an important role as the work itself, I have finally touched on art.
I know recognise as a practicing artist that the multiple disciplines I have studied, been taught and acquired over the past 23 years and from life in general have a load and does allow me to practice and continue to create from a vast wealth of knowledge, skills and emotional understandings.
Since 1985 I have worked as a successful artist across the many and varied disciplines affording me to experiment and create without boundaries.
In 2008 my first book will be published through Pan McMillian, ‘Little Seed’ is a children's book and is currently being re written for a stage adaptation and animation.
In 2008 the feature film ‘123k’ will be released as a multi platform release spanning dvd, mobile phone and online, gaming and interactive content.
In 2008 the ‘Movables’, a 72 part children's animation series will be released world wide. ‘Movables’ are 7 minute animations of my paintings of the machines that drive, fly and sail around us.
In January this year I exhibited in New york. The Ice Works are a body of works that have evolved over the 7 years, incorporating the multiple disciplines and culminating within the theatrical device of live performance/ video/ spoken word and visual art (painting).
My continual search for the heart of creation allows me to draw from the many and varied practices and teachings I have both consciously and un-consciously influenced and been influenced by. My work has taken me around the world and has allowed me to collaborate with some of the most varied and successful artisan from around our world. It is the continual which truly interests me, the good fight to express that which is expressed from within you and from around you, to give unique voice to an ever evolving world.
It may be the inevitable lose to illuminate the expansion of originality, to the sufferance of decoration… for it is for the artist to express that which has not been discovered, to alchemy new life, to hold up a light upon which miracles may be performed and the world maybe moved to view in each and every unique way… life.
It is not to make people suffer… but to deliver them from sufferance, we may express our uniqueness of intimacy.
Gav Barbey 2007