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Spencer Harrison's 'No-Self'

Creative People

We’re huge fans of Spencer Harrison (see here, here, and here). While we typically associate Spencer’s art with vibrancy and energy, his latest body of work was born from slowing things right down.

The artist welcomes us to his Melbourne studio to discuss the diverse inspirations – from mindfulness practice to 20th-century modernists – for his No-Self exhibition, opening mid-July.

5th July, 2018

 Spencer Harrison‘s Melbourne studio. Photo – Mark Lobo.

Artwork from his No-Self exhibition, opening July 17. Photo – Mark Lobo.

Sculpture from No-SelfPhoto – Mark Lobo.

Studio details. Photo – Mark Lobo.

Sculpture from No-SelfPhoto – Mark Lobo.

Artwork from No-SelfPhoto – Mark Lobo.

‘Spenceroni’ as he is known in the studio. Photo – Mark Lobo.

Artwork from No-SelfPhoto – Mark Lobo.

Artwork from No-SelfPhoto – Mark Lobo.

Studio details. Photo – Mark Lobo.

Artwork from No-SelfPhoto – Mark Lobo.

Artwork from No-SelfPhoto – Mark Lobo.

Elle Murrell
Thursday 5th July 2018

‘I try to create compositions that keep the eye moving.’ – Spencer Harrison.

Spencer Harrison is one of those rare talents who seems to effortlessly flip between various media: paintings, murals, mixed-media collages, reliefs, and sculptures too!

A nanotechnology student-turned-graphic designer, he approaches his art as a mode to question, experiment and satiate his perpetual curiosity. With its hat-tip to modernist movements of the early 1900s, Spencer’s vibrant work explores the boundaries between abstraction, representation, logic, and intuition.

Spencer has held several exciting exhibitions in recent years, and is back this month with No-Self – a series of acrylic paintings on wood panels, wooden sculptures and framed collages on paper, inspired by his mindfulness practice. Though vibrant, these works are stripped back to simple forms, pointing to the intricate relationships between form, colour, and space.

Can you tell us a little bit more about the mindfulness practice that has inspired your forthcoming exhibition No-Self?

For the past three years I have been meditating daily for 30 minutes, as well as supplementing my practice with reading Buddhist philosophy.

Initially, this started as a way to deal with stress, but I’ve since found it has become a significant part of my daily life and has begun to influence my artwork as well.

Calming the mind and trying to become more present in the moment has made me overall much happier and resulted in being able to create artwork with less self judgment and anxiety.

You reference 20th-century modernist artists often; who has inspired your latest body of work?

Following the Call of the Avant Garde exhibition at Heide in July last year, I became very interested in the constructivist and abstract movements of the early 20th Century.

Through my research I discovered the works of artists such as Kazimir Malevich, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, El Lissitzky, Lyubov Popova, Wassily Kandinsky and many more. Looking at their work and reading the philosophies and motivations behind it really resonated with me and gave me the confidence to pursue abstraction in my work.

I was especially surprised to learn that many of these artists were also inspired by Eastern philosophies, which gave me a way to bridge my artistic practice with my meditation practice.

Can you tell us about your new studio space?

This body of work was created in my new shared studio space I set up with Kitiya Palaskas mid-last year.

The studio is part of an eclectic little creative facility filled with musicians, artists and a record label in the front of an old zip factory in Brunswick East.

We named it ‘Studio Oasis’, as the space is filled with plants and natural light so it is our own little oasis to escape to and create!

What’s next for Spencer Harrison?

After this exhibition, I’ll be escaping the end of winter for a little break in Sri Lanka to catch up on reading and dream up my next body of work.

When I return I’ll be getting stuck into a few mural commissions around Melbourne and looking at developing my sculptural work further, exploring abstraction in three dimensions.

No-Self  by Spencer Harrison 
July 17th to 29th

Opening night Tuesday, July 17th, 6–9pm

Free Artist Talk Saturday, July 21st, 1-2pm

No Vacancy Gallery QV
34-40 Jane Bell Lane
Melbourne, Victoria

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net