‘In times of joy, all of us wished we possessed a tail we could wag.’
– W. H. Auden (1907-1973)
Deborah Williams is an artist who is based in Melbourne, Australia.
Working with intaglio printmaking, she lovingly explores the world of the canine.
Please enjoy my dialogue with Deborah about her art and interests.
Rona: Please describe your art for us.
Deborah: When I look at dogs in and around me, I question whether dogs are seen for what they are, as separate beings. I observe that while we do not objectify our dogs per se, our feelings are frequently filtered through human perspectives; these dogs are therefore anthropomorphized, brought unwittingly into our worlds.
I strive to challenge the anthropomorphizing of dogs even though I acknowledge that my work, in common with historical and contemporary contexts of the representation of dogs, is none the less filtered through my own perspectives and brought into our world.
I aim to depict the dog not as a breed above, apart or beyond, but of its own, captured in a moment.
R: Why is the dog as subject matter so special to you?
D: I did not consciously set out to make images of dogs. It just seemed to evolve organically. In 1992 I adopted a Blue Heeler x from the pound. Ruby accompanied me often to the studio and I drew her in those moments when I felt at a complete loss or creatively uninspired. This seemed to happen often.
I began to look at the dog as a potent marker for the fragility of the world we live in. And they represent the qualities we advocate but cannot sustain – unquestioning love, inner peace, inexhaustible spirit. They educate, intrigue and amuse me.
R: Who has been an inspiration to you art wise?
D: Noel Counihan. I was fortunate to grow up with his linocut print The Hunger, 1959. Counihan believed printmaking was a Socialist art form, easier to disseminate to the masses. This philosophy had a direct impact on my decision to study Printmaking and has continually inspired me. His images keep me grounded. They challenge me to keep reflecting and I believe, always will.
R: Which of your art making tools is the favourite?
D: Roulette wheels.
R: When you are working what do you listen to?
R: What is your all time favourite book, and are you currently reading anything interesting?
R: Where do you like to visit for relaxation when not making art?
D: Somewhere warm with an amazing beach and great food. If that’s not possible, walking the parks around the Merri Creek or Yarra with my dog Kish.
R: Thanks for chatting with me Deb!
If you would like to see Deborah’s work in the flesh run along to her exhibition Sense of Self at Australian Galleries, 50 Smith Street, Collingwood, VIC, 3066. The show is on now and continues until Sunday 16 September 2012.
You can also check out more of Deb’s delightful work by clicking here to visit her website.
‘People tend to forget that play is serious.’
Theodor is one of my favourite prints that I have made.
For me he encapsulates the essence of a cheeky guy up for a bit of fun.
Theodor was inspired by an eclectic mix of things I fancy:
These little fella’s pictured are from the Guide Dogs Victoria website.
A couple of my relatives had Labradors for pets and I adored playing with them.
One of the best rock and roll bands ever.
They were fronted fantastically by the swanky Bon Scott, from 1974-1980, until his unfortunate demise.
Master tattooist and all round purveyor of cool.
After Theodor was finished I thought he needed a gang so I made him some friends – Crazy Daisy and The Duke.
A pretty smooth crew if I do say so myself!
‘All fantasy should have a solid base in reality.’
– Max Beerbohm (1872-1956)
Please join a tour of the creative thought process that lead to my series of prints titled Borneoids.
Borneo, the third largest island in the world.
The mysterious island lends it name to quite a few modern wild man myths such as Hiram and Barney Davis (aka Waino and Plutano) who were transformed into the Wild Men of Borneo earning a great sum of money as side show stars.
Kuching is the capital of Sarawak, Borneo and is also known as Cat City.
Cat City is riddled with wacky cat sculptures as well as real life felines nosing around.
The Dayak are the native people of Borneo.
The Dayak are traditionally animist in belief and their tattoo designs are sophisticated stylisations of flora and fauna.
One particulary impressive plant native to Borneo is the Rafflesia.
The Iban in particular are a heavily tattooed branch of the Dayak peoples of Borneo.
Part of Omi’s side show schtick was claiming to have been captured and tortured via tattooing in New Guinea.
Actually he was inked by the ‘King of Tattooists’, George ‘Professor’ Burchett.
Who doesn’t love a black and white patterned animal?
Be sure to check out this mesmerising little clip of The Great Omi.