There has been a severe delay in play (Sorry actually sorry!) We have no excuses! Sadly work, life, moving house and balancing the financial books has given little time to update on the website. That said, we've a corker of a catch up with our dear friend Matthew Bourne artist and fellow 'Crohnie'.
Matthew Bourne has been a follower and supporter of this project pretty much since the beginning. Behind the scenes he has given me personally nothing but kindness and positive vibes in relation to this humble little project. It is great to have such passionate and enthusiastic people fighting in our corner. When you are connected not only by an illness, but by a creative outlet such as art and design it makes everything great.
So, with a mates art and Crohn's story the topic of discussion, it made total sense and an obvious choice for us to put this article together after our little break. To highlight Matthew's recent solo show was a must, and to finally get his personal battle story down in words was one we had to share, as so many of you can relate.
The show was held at the aMBUSH Gallery in Sydney last weekend. Matthew curated a fantastic display of his recent workings, a body of work consisting some large scale portraits of local street artists.
The show aptly named Streets X Portraiture was 15 months in the making. Capturing the essence of the local street art culprits in Matthews vibrant style, it got the tongues wagging and conversation started. The remaining pieces of the exhibition were some intricate canvas recreations, of local transport often accustomed to the neighbourhood, all with fresh Graff tags and dubs.
With all that in mind, over to the Q&A with this champion of a guy. We may be separated by thousands of miles, but he is a top guy, we hope you enjoy this little catch up, Matt speaks to Matthew!
Hey mate, let's kick off with this first question we like to ask the artists and designers…
What's on your desk/work space?
I have a drawing table with a whole lot essential material..The usual stuff like pens, pencils, markers, black books, tracing paper and paints. Some reference material like skulls and wooden figurines sit on my light table. I picked the light table up for cheap off a mate who works for a drafting firm..That's my absolute prize possession.
Where abouts do you live? What's outside the window?
I live about 40 minute west of Sydney, in a suburb called Beaumont Hills. It’s a nice area, woody, plenty of young families, with work close by. My window looks outside into the back yard…nothing too spectacular I’m afraid.
Now we've corresponded for some time, due to our passion for art and the common bond of having Crohn's disease. You've been a great supporter to the project, and myself but there are several questions I haven't gotten around to asking you, so felt we had to get this down in words.
So, how long have you been active in the art world?
I have been drawing on and off for most of my adult life, but over the last three years I decided no more regrets so dedicated a healthy part of my waking life to it.
How would you describe your art and style?
My style is urban / street pop especially my portraiture and paintings. I use lots of different bright colour hue combinations, and bold lines, but my ink work is a whole lot looser.
Was this something you studied after school or is there another background that took you down this creative path?
I drew every day during school but most kids did. I just continued drawing after school and went onto study graphic design at University back in 93. I was just obsessed with it.
Is art a full time job/career artist or is there a 9-5 getting in the way? (But paying the bills)
There’s a 9-5 at the moment, and it’s paying the bills. Being married with two boys it’s the only sensible options at the moment until my art career starts taking shape. I’m not one to throw caution to the wind and hope for the best. So my art has been early mornings and late nights, it's just how things have to be. It’s an exhausting hustle but I’m patient. Living life with no regrets is important to me.
What or who were your inspirations whilst honing your craft?
Inspirations include comic artists Simon Bisley, Frank Miller, and Geof Darrow. Comics even now are a great source of reference. Others artists include Mike Giant, Glenno Smith, Ben Brown, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and Brett Whitley.
What is your preferred medium?
I don't have one preferred medium, but love several which include acrylic,oil,pencil and ink. Currently a huge portion of work has been acrylic.
I often ask the artists we've discovered who suffer with an IBD illness, whether using art as a creative outlet helps with their condition? In a therapeutic way?
I really do believe stress can impact on the individual's condition. Painting is therapeutic no doubt, if not stop doing it. If you are a creative working full time suffering from IBD or Crohn’s constantly under stress running to a deadline maybe a different job role is required. Or a serious change in work life balance.
For those who follow our Instagram, they would of noticed that we posted some images up to promote your solo show at the Ambush Gallery in Sydney. Now a few days after the show, tell us more about how you got to that stage? What was the concept for the show? How did you Crohn's cope with the pressure in the build up and how do you think it went?
I wanted to reconnect with portraiture, something I love but hadn’t done for years. I made a list of artists based on character and my love for their artistic styles. Every single person on the list is either a street or graffiti artist. So that was that, how do I go about celebrating my love affair for portraiture, street art and graffiti.
Producing, creating, coordinating, and project managing something of this scale was extremely daunting. I was quite fortunate the people who came on board were just as passionate about the project as I was. I worked really fucking hard for eight months in preparation for pitching my idea to aMBUSH gallery. I felt if I had something to show during my pitch visually my chances of securing a show may be higher…It worked and the date was set. Now all I had to do was deliver on everything I promised.
My Crohn’s reared it’s ugly head many times during the project putting me in hospital for bowel obstructions. Coping with flare ups every couple of months sucks. Crohn’s requires a more conscious approach to diet and it takes dedication. Slipping back into bad habits happens, but you have to be diligent. I had noticed as the opening night was fast approaching say two months out flare ups became more frequent. Again stress for me is a factor. It wasn't the art I was producing making me anxious but all the expectations that come with wanting a successful show. Also being so close to a project like this, one tends to pure blood, sweat and tears into everything.
How do you gauge success, well the gallery soon became a full house not long after the doors had opened declaring it as the busiest it has been for years. For me the show was more about creating a conversation regarding the place of street art in today's society, building on relationships, opportunities and taking me as a serious artist. Can my show change an individual's opinion from a negative to a positive one. My mum went and had no idea the impact it would create on her. She now loves street art, job done…
Which piece drew the most attention?
Sid Tapia and Mikey Freedom. Everyone I asked spoke of how these two portraits evoked great emotion, and captured their faces perfectly.
Also the video projections were a hit. The videos contained exclusive interviews of all the artists which I projected up onto the gallery wall throughout the show. The audience could sit down take a break and listen to what the artist had to say about life, art, art process, street art and graffiti.
We here at GCASFM have big dreams of pulling off a big exhibition in the future, what are the key things we need to bear in mind? Any advice on the logistics of pulling off a successful event that you've obviously put so much time and effort into?
1) You have to be 100% committed to see it through right to the end. How bad do you want it.
2) Plan, be patient, communicate, and be transparent. Keep everyone on the same page.
3) Don’t be a douche bag, there’s plenty of ego in the art industry, don’t be one of them. Remember to respect any artist that come on board and volunteer their time.
4) Don’t burn bridges, building foundations for future projects is important.
5) Organise well in advance, not at the last minute, that way when things don’t go to plan, you can re adjust.
6) Don’t take for granted those who help make your dream come true, ever. Its always a team effort regardless if it’s your gig.
7) Surround yourself with positive people, negativity slam dunk in the bin.
8) Be humble, action speaks louder then words.
9) Many times I wanted to give up, especially when I was in hospital for 10 days staring at the ceiling asking myself “What the fuck am I doing?”
9) But when its a passion project, nothing will stop you from the end goal, nothing.
10) Expect the haters to come out, especially if you have a good idea. That’s a guarantee. When this happens keep your emotions in check and bury them deep. Keep moving forward. Stay true to the journey.
Now…away from the art for a bit. Let's talk Crohn's disease…Yes that little shit of an illness that we share the love and hate for (Love because it's helped us meet so many inspirational people). How long have you been battling with the illness?
What was the first thing that rattled through you mind when you were told "You have Crohn's disease", was it something you'd heard of?
I didn’t know what the fuck this disease was. Never heard of it.
What medication are you currently taking? Have you made any drastic changes to your diet or routine?
I’m on steroids and a Humira pen.
Diet, still ongoing with that. I’m currently on a low residual diet. Mainly soups and boiled vegetables. Gluten free breads and no full cream dairy. Nothing with seeds or high acidity. Staying away from carbonated drinks. The gas build up is terrible for the gut and that for me is what kills me the most.
Have you had to undergo any surgery?
Yeah, 15 years ago, I had fistulas in the lower intestine. So had to have a resection with some bowel removed.
What has been the biggest learning curve through dealing with the illness?
Trying not to be too embarrassed about Crohn’s, understanding your body when things go pear shaped. Understand the triggers that set off your Crohn’s, and avoid them. You may have to restrict your social activities. This includes drug and alcohol consumption. It could be dangerous when mixing your over the counter pharmaceuticals and worse for your stomach. When out and about take a survival kit with you. You never know when the unexpected happens.. You don't need to be caught out, plan ahead.
What is the support network like over there? Does your hospital have a specialist team you can call upon?
The health industry over here in Australia compared to other countries like America is pretty good. I have private health insurance and haven’t had a bad experience yet. The last time I was in hospital was in a private room, only to pay an excess and the rest paid by my health insurer. My specialist runs his office out of certain hospitals with a team dedicated to digestive diseases.
How are you doing right now?
I could be better..I am still adjusting to the new diet. Seriously thinking about going vegetarian. My dad would roll over in his grave, being a butchers son and all. Ive lost about 10 kg in 6 months.
Well mate, that concludes this consultation; we'll let you get back to your work. What is next on the agenda?
Matty, I’m hoping to expand on my SXP project and see what other ideas can be added to make it bigger and better.
We hope to work with this guy and some of his friends remotely on some projects in Oz, watch this space. It's always great to link up even via social media with like minded people, to throw ideas at and work together in raising awareness in our unique way.
My pleasure brother, peace and GCASFM.