[...BORROWED OPINIONS / [...] All of these things feed into the public imagination and so the idea of risk, the idea of danger, the idea of damage, all of this stuff is very exciting for the media. And when our elected representatives, politicians, are a part of that power structure, then the 24-hour news cycle unfortunately starts to set policy. So you have one scandal and then another one and then another one and every week it’s a new one. One week it’s a race riot, the next week it’s a volcano and then there’s an air crash and then it’s child murderers. It’s a machine that needs to be fed.

In Australia, more than in Europe, the idea of what culture is, or art if you want, has been progressively marginalised. It’s been made to seem less and less important, and increasingly you have politicians in Australia who say the arts are basically suspect. It is all nonsense because what they look at is activity, which drives the world— and activity is technology and sport, or science and sport, if you like. Because that’s how they see the world. this business of the arts becomes, to them, more and more an incongruity, more and more a politically suspect, marginal activity carried out by pretentious or weird people who are social misfits or something.

You get that a lot in Australia with politicians; they have no interest at all in culture, they have no interest in the arts and they think it’s kind of creepy. In that kind of environment the controversy of my pictures makes perfect sense because it’s not important to them, it’s just weird. They would never attack the entertainment industry, they would never attack big business, they would never attack the retail sector, they would never attack the mining sector where Australia gets all of its money digging up rocks and selling them to China. They would never attack that, but the arts, they are very happy to attack that if they can gain some political mileage...

beauty and sadness / There’s great beauty in sadness that probably colours things a little bit for me. There’s a kind of significant overlap; something that strikes you as having tremendous grace or tremendous beauty often contains this kind of imminent disintegration. The more intense the beauty, to me, the more suggestive of its loss it is at the same time. That sense of the transitory nature of things, and the sense of the fragility or the delicacy or the ‘against the odds’ nature of the beautiful experience, or of an object, is probably heightened.

The sense of recognition or identification leads to you becoming one with that experience or person— it’s a lot like talking in platonic dialogues, the desire and pursuit of the whole. There is a sense in which it overtakes reason, which beauty does; we fall in love really because of unexpected encounters with beauty. And no matter whether it is projected or actually consciously returned in the case of another person, that profound sense of identifying with the subject when it’s at a high enough key, I think it diminishes that sense of separation. You become the thing you love; I think we all do, to degrees. And so that sense of loss is just a natural extension of the sense of being intensely alive, made more alive by the existential kind of experience, that one might have in the landscape.


the void / It’s a waveform, like everything else in the universe. It goes up and down and you do feel emptied out sometimes. It’s desolate except that it’s not emotional; it’s just empty. And you learn as you get older to not allow anxiety to overtake in that situation but to try to occupy yourself in another direction— to go and walk, just turn away and leave the thoughts you were having towards that picture. But you have to learn that.

We’re all more or less successful at pulling ourselves up and saying, ‘I’m sliding into a black hole and I have to just stop’. I feel, as you get older, it’s the quality of life that counts rather than the quantity, as in most things, and so you become a bit less anxious about holding onto life. You’re a little less concerned about whether you live or die. I think sometimes when it’s difficult you can always think ‘well I’ll just blow my brains out’ and that takes no time at all. If you have to get out of the situation you can always shoot yourself. Or if you have a different kind of personality you can just quietly drink yourself to death, which many people do, though it is not as colourful. but those solutions are there for everyone...]