Peter Bainbridge on art, inspiration and his latest collection ‘Metallica’
Australian icons are given a contemporary make-over in the newest series of print-works by multi-disciplinary creative Peter Bainbridge – titled ‘Metallica’. The collection features the artist’s iconic pared-back compositions that meld poster aesthetics with a stylish approach to minimalism.
Interview by Jessica Clark.
- Tell us about your artistic practice, what are your processes and materials do you typically use?
Materials are primarily Adobe Illustrator, then I work with the best printer and paper available. I’ve used Canson papers only - (French) Brilliant 320gsm. They’ve been making paper since 1570. And only oil based inks. Then its lots of colour tests at the printer, over and over again getting it right, that hue is crucial. Get the colour wrong and it’s all over! Materials, like the French paper, need to be expressed in full colour and underlined as much as possible. It says to the buyer, you are buying the real deal, it says come into my room and I’ll show how much I care.
- What inspires you as an artist? What drives your practice?
What drives me is poverty really. I keep thinking, I gotta draw my way outta here. Seriously though, I have an incurable itch to draw, always have. There’s nothing quite like making a great set of lines click. Great art does something to the soul, it possesses the viewer when you get it right. It's like a prize wheel at the fair, where they think if I watch long enough they'll win a prize. But seriously, art is like a confessional booth, you go in guilty and come out the other side cleansed. Absolution for the soul.
- Why art?
There’s nothing like getting your hands filthy and creating something from nothing. But today, it's all so antibacterial, washing off a reality through fear of contamination? I know this sounds irredeemably dark. But when I left the suburbs I ended up at St Kilda’s Crystal Ballroom managing bands and shared a studio with David Larwill, the studio was an old underground car park, and on a daily basis we’d watch live acts like this. It was blood curdling, and you felt truly alive. A good art piece makes me feel exactly like this. Like your going somewhere no-one else can come, an art-house cubby. Gang of Four - Damaged Goods - YouTube. And this is achingly cool as well. New Order - Crystal [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO] - YouTube And this, a Melbourne band. The Morning After Girls -The General Public - YouTube Its all about taste. An Education Movie Dance Scene - YouTube
- Your compositions are often reminiscent of iconically Australian imagery - like Ned Kelly. How does this imagery resonate with you?
Ned was un underdog, much like my early childhood, I could have ended up completely at odds with the road I took. I hung around with the worst types - barbarians. Then one day I heard Lou Reed’s Transformer album. It spoke to me, it said, leave the suburbs, there’s a better world out there, go find it. Music was a huge leveller and teacher, it was my divining rod, much like painting. It spoke the truth. Where everything else seemed a lie. The whole world for the most part is based on fiction.
- What role does your art play in an Australian context?
Art in Australia puts double the bums on seats than does sport, but the art conversation seems to be sidelined at every street corner. It truly pisses me off. Australians see ‘The Print’ as somehow an inferior product. Brett Whiteley thought they should be deemed at best, like bus tickets. Strange really, even artists display ignorance on the print. Prints have a deeper appreciation in Europe and America.
- What art do you most identify with?
I’ve always liked putting marks on paper, it's a primitive function, it's like a religion, when I walk past fresh concrete and see some kid having made his mark in the sand as it were, it says, I was here, don’t forget me, I exist. Its urban cave painting. Look at Banksy, spray can religion. Same thing. Most galleries send me to sleep, almost every time I force myself inside the Church I get bored pretty quickly. You go straight for the holy water then leave. I adore movie poster art, especially Polish, so good, and of course Saul Bass (American).