A brief interview with me was published in Brisbane's U On Sunday, a new magazine supplement for the Sunday Mail newspaper, today. It's about collecting. Others mentioned in the article collect designer high heels, sneakers, ballet memorabillia, snow domes or rocking horses. I collect skeletal remains. The magazine sent a photographer to my studio just before I was admitted to hospital.The title is, ironically, Group Therapy. Below is a transcript of my original interview for the piece: What sort of reaction do you get from people when they find out about your unusual collection?
I think most people expect artists to have weird stuff strewn about their living and working spaces, so they're not really surprised. In any case, their attention is usually distracted first by my very large collection of sex aids, which I also collect (and which are sent to me by fans of my art, as far afield as Japan, the USA and Eastern Europe). These, too, are a source of references for my art – although that's not to say I haven't had a lot of fun trying them out! How many skeletons do you have?
I suppose I have between 15 and 20 separate, full or partial skeletons or skulls. I only have a few displayed at any one time, usually in my studio, where I use them as references for paintings.What sort of animals are they?
I have a soft spot for the long, narrow spines and ribs of snakes (I wear a snakes spine, bought in Thailand, as a necklace), but I also have a number of small birds and rodents. One of the birds skulls has been bronzed by a sculptor in the USA.How did you start to collect such a thing?!
I grew up in rural Queensland, where carcasses and bones are pretty much everywhere in the landscape. Skeletons of humans and reptiles started turning up in my art about five years ago, when I started doing watercolours inspired by voodoo rituals. I think my collection began during that period.What is the appeal?
I'm drawn to the delicateness and intricacy of the shapes, especially those of the snakes, which seem to tug at some slightly insidious, atavistic fear. I enjoy sketching and painting the details of them, and adapting them to the somewhat surrealistic scenes of my watercolours.Where do you find them? Do you buy them or find them yourself?
I don't go out of my way to find them but occasionally, I come across a specimen in the wild that, providing it's old, flesh-less and bleached, I'll wrap carefully and take back to my studio. I find myself intrigued by each set of remains I find – what sort of snake or bird was it? how did it die? – and when I use them in my art, I feel like I am giving them another life.Where do you keep them?
I keep them mostly wrapped, in boxes, in storage facilities in Sydney and Brisbane. I only have a few displayed at any one time, usually in my studio, where I use them as references for paintings. I also have jewelery made from some of them.