Interview with Adam BOYD

the ephemera interviews

In this series of interviews artists directly involved in ARIs and artist-run culture 1980- 2000 speak about the social context for their art making and provide insights into the ephemera they produced or collaborated on during this period. Artist ephemera includes artworks, photocopies, photographs, videos, films, audio, mail art, posters, exhibition invites, flyers, buttons and badges, exhibition catalogues, didactics, room sheets, artist publications, analogue to digital resources and artist files.

Photos: Jose Macalino, John Mills National, 1987

BIO

Adam Boyd lives and works in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

 

During the 1980’s Adam was involved in a range of artist collaborations including early Brisbane-based artist-run culture projects and artist-run space initiatives Red Comb House at 190 Roma Street, Brisbane, One Flat at Edmonstone Street, South Brisbane, One Flat Exhibit at 355 George Street, Brisbane O’Flate and O’Flission in Bell Tower studios originally located at 420 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley, and in 1986 with performance artist and writer Virginia Barratt established John Mills National and the John Mills Annex at 40 Charlotte Street, Brisbane. Adam relocated to Melbourne in 1989 and established another artist run space in West Melbourne; The Greater Western.

 

After the birth of his first child in 1991, the artist says, “he figured it was time to get a real job”, and for the next ten years Adam worked in a number of arts and culture sector roles at 200 Gertrude Street, the Institute of Modern Art, Artspace and the Biennale of Sydney. He is currently living and working as a freelance writer and artist.


 

PA: 

Adam Hi and thanks, why does a public archive mapping artist testimonies and artist histories about the ephemeral nature of the vibrant Queensland 1980-1990 artist-run scene matter to you?

 


 

AB:

I was involved in the Brisbane Artist Run Space scene from 1982 to 1988, as a founding member of One Flat, which later became O’Flate and briefly O’Flission in South Brisbane,  George Street and Brunswick Street respectively, with artists Jeanelle Hurst and Russell Lake. I went on to establish John Mills National and the John Mills Annex in Charlotte Street with Virginia Barratt. We each still hold significant archival material from the time; slides and film, video footage, photos and other ephemera so obscure and ridiculous it is a miracle it survived at all.

 

Some of this material will be used to put together an exhibition – a survey of the period – which is currently in development and scheduled to be held at the University of Queensland Art Museum in April 2016. There can be no doubt that this period in history was an extremely fertile one, and one which helped shape the cultural identity of the arts in Brisbane in many ways, for many years.

Neither Sydney nor Melbourne can lay claim to the unique set of experimental art practices that prevailed in Brisbane during these years. I make this point because a very clearly defined and re-articulated spirit of innovation and experimentation came to define the Brisbane art scene during those years.
Adam Boyd
Pre-performance mask make-up application - Distillation, Artists Hollie, Eugene Carchesio and Steven Grainger, December 9, 1986. (PHOTO: Jose Macalino)
Photos: Jose Macalino, John Mills National, 1987
Adam Boyd and Russell Lake (seated at desk) and Virginia Barratt in window in performance, Bellas Gallery, Adelaide Street, 1987 ( Photo: Unknown)

Neither Sydney nor Melbourne can lay claim to the unique set of experimental art practices that prevailed in Brisbane during these years. I make this point because a very clearly defined and re-articulated spirit of innovation and experimentation came to define the Brisbane art scene during those years.

 

It was an historical moment whose time was right, and in some ways it may only have been possible in Brisbane, given the tremendous weight and legacy of the arts establishments that bore down on the experimental art scenes in the southern states.

 

The arts in general in Melbourne and Sydney at that time meant something to the population. In Brisbane it did not. This only made the radical nature of the art scene in Brisbane more extraordinary for the fact that they happened at all. At the time, artist run spaces were largely ignored by the major arts organisations in Queensland, or if we were not, then we were certainly misunderstood.

 

We were also censored and in effect routed from official histories of the art scene in Brisbane during that period. I’m not making this up. I was there. For this reason it is very important that documentation and ephemera from the 1980’s be collected, published, and properly archived as a way of preserving Brisbane’s art history and setting the record straight.

 

The REMIX project is a targeted way to redress this absence of historical record because it puts the voices of the main protagonists at the centre of efforts to reconstruct this history. Let me amend that – this is not, in fact, a reconstruction effort. This is history being told, authentically, for the first time.

 

The online nature of the REMIX project is the most appropriate format for a project of this reach. It will bring together an excellent source of research materials for the first time, and make those resources available to all Australians. The cultural history of Queensland demands to be properly contextualised and understood, and in doing so, it will allow future generations of young artists to better understand the nature of the histories that reach out behind them.

 

It is important that these stories be told, and told in the right way. If we are to set the public record straight, and emerge into the truth, I believe this project is the best way to do it.

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