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Patricia Piccinini’s 'Truth Bombs’ On Living A Creative Life

Creative People

Abigail Crompton has made a career talking to and about artists. The founder and creative director of Third Drawer Down is what we’d call a mover and a shaker of the international art world, collaborating with superstar artists across the globe like Ai Weiwei and Louise Bourgeois, to create licensed contemporary Art merchandise for the world’s top museums.

Abigail’s new book Truth Bomb is the record of a lifetime spent crushing on art. Through interviews with 22 leading female artists such as Yayoi Kusama and Del Kathryn Barton, Abigail uncovers the varied creative processes, inspirations and motivations of these visionary creatives. These are the brave women making waves in the art world, using their craft to shed light on personal, political and systemic issues. They are, quite literally, making their mark!

Read on for an excerpt from Truth Bomb – featuring brilliant insights from reknowned Australian sculptor, Patricia Piccinini.

29th September, 2020

Legendary Australian artist, Patricia Piccinini. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Left – Patricia Piccinini’s ‘Kindred‘ – from the pages of ‘Truth Bomb‘ published by Thames & hUDSON. Right – photo of an artisan at work in Particia’s Melbourne studio, by Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Patricia Piccinini’s ‘The Skywhale’ hot air balloon, 2013. Commissioned for The Centenary of Canberra, proudly supported by the ACT Government. Photo – courtesy of the artist.

Patricia’s highly original (and lifelike!) aesthetic is some of most recognisable and highly sought art in the world. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Truth Bomb by Abigail Crompton is published by Thames & Hudson, and is out now!

Abigail Crompton
Tuesday 29th September 2020

‘The politics of care is really important. Art is not just about art; it is about people.’ – Patricia Piccinini

Patricia Piccinini has created a new way of filtering the world. Her art questions what happens to us when we recognise that we are just one animal among many. Patricia is best known internationally for her too-human animal sculptures, the collision of nature and insane genetic experimentation. Her sculptures are unsettling and grotesque, but with a mythological sort of beauty.

Patricia was born in Sierra Leone but raised in Canberra, and is now based in Melbourne. She has spoken about the ‘handicap’ of being an Australian artist – the tyranny of distance is a real challenge for Australian creatives, forcing us to work twice as hard to be heard.

I asked Patricia to share some lessons that art school cannot teach you. The recipe for success as a global artist, then, is taking these lessons on hard work, connections and believing in your worth, and multiplying them by 100.

Patricia Piccinini’s lessons on living a creative life:

On collaboration

‘When I graduated, the most important thing I did was set up an artist-run space.’

‘I didn’t work in my garage until I was discovered by a famous curator – far from it! I am here because I have always worked with other people. I am here because I did a bunch of small things that gradually got bigger.’

‘Connections are the most important thing you will make.’

On competition

‘There is a very strong idea in the art world that only one in 100 artists can survive. I hate the implication of this idea, the culture that it implies. It sets up a world where artists are divided, and that success can only be achieved at the expense of everybody else’s failure . . . It is rooted in the idea that the art world is based on toxic competition.’

On reflection

‘When people told me that they weren’t interested in my work, I took it as a challenge to work out why, and come back to them with something more compelling.’

‘I learnt how people relate to art – which is not very easily – and I had a lot of time to think about why we make art.’

On success

‘I learnt that being an artist is as much about showing art as making it. You might make the best art in the world, but if it can’t be seen it just doesn’t exist, and no one is going to come looking for it.’                                                       

‘I learnt to lose. You are not going to win every prize, get every grant, get every sale, meet every curator – you are going to miss out on plenty of opportunities. The art world is not always fair, but it does recognise persistence.’

‘The politics of care is really important. Art is not just about art; it is about people.’

‘Truth Bomb’ by Abigail Crompton is out now through Thames & Hudson, and available to purchase here!

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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