Jack Rowland – a Melbourne-based artist, who grew up in Castlemaine – exhibits nationally and internationally, his work reflects on and celebrates the natural world.
As part of the Fringe Festival and with support from local web design and digital marketing business We Push Buttons, Jack has created a mural at the newly renovated Comma Complex.
We spoke to him about the piece as it neared completion.
Can you share some background on this work?
“I wanted to explore the natural world; to paint the Australian landscape. It’s a recurring theme in my work.
“In preparing for this piece I spent lots of time over in Harcourt, a place I feel a real sense of connection to; I love it there. I’ve also spent time up on Mount Alexander – those ‘overview landscapes’, as I refer to them, are inspiring.
The expression ‘blank canvas’ is often used in art and life, whereas creating a mural is such a site-specific act, how much of a challenge is it to work in this form?
“You do need to play with the shape of the wall; in this case we’ve got the top left going over there, and the ‘L’ shape of the wall here; the surreal coloured gum needs to go here so that, as you look up at the work, you’ll be looking up at the gum leaves.
“You have to commit to working in the context you find yourself in. I’ve found that, invariably, what at first seem to be limitations ultimately give birth to something you may never have thought of.”
Could you share some more about your connection to nature?
“It’s just been that way for me for years, whether it’s bushwalking, overseas travel and generally spending time in nature. You can’t but have a sense of awe and respect for the natural world, it’s a force greater than us.
“This piece is a celebration of that world; an attempt to replicate, not come close to the perfection of the bush, but in some way replicate nature, which is natural art in itself.”
And, why murals? What drew you to this form of expression?
“Creating a mural is a great way of revisioning art. These outdoor projects speak to an innate appetite for big, vibrant art. They’re democratic.
“Lots of people who think ‘art’s not my thing’ are drawn to murals; those barriers are broken down. This form takes artwork out of the gallery, recontextualises it. It makes art a lot more accessible; the person that ‘doesn’t like art’ is invariably drawn to it.”
How did you get started in the field?
“I got a job painting murals for corporates, Adidas, Coke, that sort of thing – it was a job that got me out of making coffees for a living; it also allowed me to push myself forward, develop my artistic ability. I ultimately ditched the commercials and applied those techniques to my artistic work – you work quickly and on a large scale and, after a while, you get the hang of it.”
You’ve been working here on the old Comma corner, behind the We Push Buttons office, and clearly haven’t minded everyone stopping by to watch you work, and the piece evolve.
“As I say, the mural is art in a different context and, as a direct result, the creative process itself is different; and it’s quite addictive. You’re not in your studio anymore, you’re working solo on the piece, but you’re also often collaborating with councils and communities. The resulting work is large scale art that translates directly to and becomes part of people’s lives, as I hope this piece does, too.”
To see Jack Rowland’s completed work: the mural can be viewed from the laneway behind Bruce’s Kitchen, Forest Street.
You can find out more about Jack Rowland at his website JACK ROWLAND ART
We Push Buttons – Web Design & Digital Marketing https://wepushbuttons.com.au/