Stephen Baker is one of the hardest working artists we know, and it’s been another big year for the prolific artist. 2018 has seen Stephen exhibit for the first time in Sydney (with huge success!), as well as add sculpture to his repertoire, with a collection of small cast bronze works.
Closer to home, Stephen also had the incredible opportunity to create an artwork on a Tram (!) this year’s ‘Art Trams’ program, run by the Melbourne International Arts Festival. ‘The experience has been amazing’ he recounts. ‘Having a life-size iconic Melbourne tram rolling around town covered in your artwork feels a little special. (Spot Stephen’s distinctive artwork on the 57, 58, 59 and 82 routes across Melbourne!).
From larger-than-life, to pint-sized, Stephen already recently collaborated with Four Pillars, creating a unique artwork for their limited edition Christmas Gin, which has just been released. Is there anything this guy cannot turn his hand to!?
Stephen’s upcoming TDF Collect exhibition feels like a culmination of one hugely busy and brilliant year – the show is about energy and optimism, eschewing responsibilities and celebrating summer. His influences for this series are fun and a little unexpected – from childhood memories of Kilda Beach, to George Michael wearing cobalt blue on the cover of a teen magazine!
Hey Stephen! tell us a little bit about the pieces you’ve created for this TDF Collect show?
This show was interesting because it was all developed from an initial vibe really… it all centered around one morning where the weather changed from being wintery and cold to warm and sunny. I grabbed my sketchbook and went out for breakfast feeling so great, like a weight had been lifted, winter was over!
During breakfast I started sketching figures jumping in the air, falling from the sky with polka dots everywhere, sunny side up fried eggs floating by with big daisies in the background. I just sketched down anything that felt fun! Anything to me that captured this feeling I was having of breaking away from the winter blues. I reminisced times when I was a kid and our family would drive down to St Kilda Beach in the height of summer and stroll along the Esplanade. Other images of those times also sprang to mind, like George Michael being on the cover of some teen gossip magazine that my sister bought, he was wearing this unmistakable cobalt blue sweater.
So then a whole moodboard developed around these experiences and it just grew from there. The colour palette definitely lends itself to an 80s-pop poster style, it’s probably the closest I’ve come to a primary colour palette. I also wanted to play with movement in this series, have the figures almost in action poses. Pushing the boundaries of the frame with the forms and also repeating the frames as though they were film stills gave them this ‘captured’ in mid-motion feel or out-of-frame film quality.
Were any interesting techniques, materials and processes involved?
All the works start off as process sketches, which are slowly gathered over a period of time and then narrowed down to a select few to be worked up more. I like to piece together all the works on a moodboard so I’m constantly seeing the show develop. Once I’m happy with a large grouping of sketches I’llI develop a specified colour palette for the entire show and mock these up using that palette. I pretty much have my whole idea and concept mapped out before I bring paint to canvas. From there it’s a matter of executing a smooth and precise painting based on my references.
What are you look forward to about this show?
It’s always nice to see the artwork hang as a whole in the space, the way it’s been intended. The lead up to a show can be very disjointed with works in various stages of development, it can be hard to see the bigger picture. When you get to see the pieces together and hung for the first time, that’s always great, so I’m definitely looking forward to that.
What’s Stephen Baker Planning for Xmas break?
I’ve been given the opportunity to add to my existing mural piece ‘Pool Parade’ at the Fitzroy Pools, so that’s up next. I will also be refreshing the old mural and giving it a fresh lick of paint at the same time. Apart from this, I’d like to see things wind down a little and catch a break with family over the holiday period. I feel next year will be a developing year, honing in some newly adopted styles and focussing on exhibiting these. Definitely looking forward to having some space to reflect and recharge.
Please join us, and Stephen, for the opening of FLIP next Saturday, December 8th!
All the works in this show are now pictured on the TDF Collect website, and are available to purchase via email from today – enquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
FLIP by Stephen Baker
December 8th to 13th
14 Little Oxford Street
Saturday 8th, 10:00am – 5:00pm, with opening drinks from 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Sunday 9th, 11:00am – 3:00pm
Monday 10th, CLOSED
Tuesday 11th, 10:00 – 4:00pm
Wednesday 12th, 10:00 – 4:00pm
Thursday 13th, 10:00 – 4:00pm
This exhibition is generously supported by Dulux, Magnum and Queens Wine, Sample, and CAPI.