I will be having my first solo exhibition at The Depot Art Space, Devonport, Auckland. July 10th (opening) through to July 22nd.
The show is called Interviews with Escapists, and is a series of paintings (possibly sculptures too – haven’t yet decided). I am interviewing a range of people in different professions and lifestyles and asking them about their experiences and views on escapism. Their answers will be interpreted, by me, in to a painting (or sculpture).
To date I have met some interesting people and heard a lot of even more interesting stories. I have so far interviewed a Property Broker, CEO/Banker, Organisational Development Manager and a Barrister. The next interviews I have lined up are a Solo Mum, Drag Queen and a Prostitute.
Two days ago I headed up to the NZPC (New Zealand Prostitute’s Collective) to see if they could help me find someone who would be willing to take part in my exhibition. Needless to say, the visit was very interesting and eye-opening! We got talking about the industry before it became legal, and how it is now. They call the new women in the profession – The New Generation – a term which I think is very fitting. A lot of the new generation would not know what the “old school” women use to go through before prostitution was legalised. I was given a copy of their magazine, Siren, and a recent newspaper article about an Ex-cop jailed over sex with a prostitute. I also learnt that there are only approx 1700 women working in this profession in Auckland.
So I am eagerly awaiting a call from them after the 11th January to find out who they have found that will be willing to take part.
Interview #1 – Peter, Property Broker
Peter is the first person I have interviewed for this project. A willing participant, he was keen to help me shape my questions and be part of the project. He is just as interested to know why escapism is such an interest to me, as I am to know about his escapism experiences and thoughts.
My first question for Peter was “What does the word escapism mean to you?”. He replies, “to me it is escaping from stress, difficulties, monotony or suffering. To somewhere relaxing, invigorating and rejuvenating. However, the somewhere does not need to be real, it can be an imaginary place”.
Peter has a love for the outdoors. One of the most memorable times in his life was in 1995, when he was 17 years old. He spent a year in Fairlie at the outdoor pursuits boarding school. His parents sent him there, he thinks it might have been to straighten him out. “I didn’t really find my place at Grammar School, so I started acting out, getting into trouble and skipping school. So I think my parents had enough and hoped this would be a good thing for me”, said Peter. Peter gained some valuable skills whilst in Fairlie and also grew confidence within himself. Before he arrived he was a little apprehensive, especially when it came to the outdoor activities. “I was timid, but I ended up pushing through all of that, finding my love for the outdoors and gaining confidence”.
Now when Peter wants to escape, he thinks about places with isolation and ruggedness. But a place where he is in control and knows how to handle himself in that environment. He dreams back to his times in Fairlie. His love for the outdoors is again made clear when I ask him if there is a place he regularly visits when he needs to escape. This place is the Coromandel. And his ultimate destination to escape to would be Revelstoke.
Peter is self-described as philosophical and driven. I think he is also passionate and caring and has an adventurous streak in him. He is also a thinker and loves to engage in meaningful conversations with people. His passion for life and the outdoors really shows through in his person.
Interview #2 – Clive, Barrister/Artist
I wanted to interview Clive because I thought he would appreciate what I am doing, being a fellow artist. Thankfully I was right. We met for a drink on a sunny afternoon, I could tell he was slightly nervous, but so was I. He is only the second person I have interviewed.
Clive is a very calm and relaxed person. He gives me the impression has a very gentle nature. The word escapism to Clive means “going from one existential plane to another. From reality to another world. It is the fantasy or the unreal”. When I ask Clive what kind of escapism he has indulged in lately he couldn’t think of anything. I guess if you are not conscious about doing something as a means of escape, I can understand why he found it difficult to answer to think of something.
In times of stress or hardship, Clive imagines himself to be “In a stress free and simple place”. Whether that’s on a beach or a tranquil lake in Canada. At this place he imagines this is no one else there. Clive loves the sea and getting away from life, cities and people.
In the weekends, Clive likes to get out-of-town to his beach house. He has his artist studio here and says it is a very relaxing and therapeutic place to come. He shows me a bunch of his paintings on his iPhone. He loves to paint landscapes, tranquil scenes and blue is a dominant colour in most of his paintings. He says he doesn’t necessarily paint to sell, he paints for himself because he enjoys it. Clive sometimes thinks he can be too insular. “I can be seen as being removed or cold, however I am very comfortable with myself, with who I am and what I want to do”.
Interview #3 – Jo, Manager Organisational Development
Jo is energetic, vibrant and dynamic. She also describes herself as intuitive, a fruit-loop and unpredictable. She’s a lot of fun and really likes to have fun too. When I asked Jo to participate in this project, she jumped at the chance. And I was excited to interview her.
We sat on the couch at her place talking about work and each other, before we got stuck in to the questions. Jo has had a colourful life. She grew up with an alcoholic father, has travelled the world, experienced depression, experimented with drugs and worked at Odyssey House. Jo has a really open-minded view about escapism, she is very conscious about her own desires with escapism and has worked with people who have experienced a darker side of escapism.
The word escapism to Jo means “to live or to play. It can be selfish or be a sense of freedom. Also, depending on the situation, it is vital for survival. It’s a primal need, the element of having to escape to survive can be habitual and individual”. Jo is a thinker, she always seems to be thinking out side of the box and she is very creative. She also day-dreams often, and says she use to get told off as a child because she was always staring in to space, not realising she was day-dreaming.
Alcohol is one form of escapism for Jo. This is something she has to watch as she grew up and an alcoholic father and she knows the downfalls of becoming addicted. She says “ I have a slight reckless thread that runs through me, people are unsure what I will be like”. When Jo went through a period of depression escapism was a big feature in her life. “In those times I don’t want to be here or around anyone. Escapism is a different shade of not wanting to be in that certain circumstance and not having the self-love to get that the world is fine”.
Although Jo has experienced some dark times in her life, she is never one to make quick judgements about others. She is the kind of friend you would want around if you were experiencing though times in your own life. She is a free spirit, sympathetic and caring.
Interview #4 – David, Banker
David is self-described as gregarious and eclectic. He is not your typical blue collared corporate, he is eclectic in his dress sense as well as his personality. He’s the type of person that is not afraid to wear a bright patterned tie with a tan plaid suit. Expressing his personality through his clothes is essential for David’s work attire.
The word escapism to David means escaping from boring or stressful situations, to a better place, away from reality. So when David needs to escape he prefers to relax with a book. In summer, this place is outside on the deck, under an umbrella. In the winter, it’s taking a hot bath. This is calming and as far away from the corporate world he can get without physically leaving to go to another place.
However, in times of stress or hardship, David likes to imagine himself sitting in a café in Paris. He pretends he is a famous writer sitting at a table on the pavement, sipping a French aperitif, watching the world walk past. He likes to day-dream, and often finds himself dreaming about things he would rather be doing or places he would rather be. When I ask David if he has an indulgence or an addiction, he says “ No, I am very balanced. I like to indulge myself in everything. As I get older my tastes get more expensive”.
I felt David was slightly nervous during the interview. He seemed unsure as to how much he should reveal to me. I guess it’s harder to reveal this sort of information to someone you know, you might not want that person to see that side of you. I can completely understand. However, maybe he was also afraid at what other people might think of him when reading his story. Although I know he was being truthful, I felt he held back on some of his answers.