INTERVIEW Hannah Quinlivan


Hannah Quinlivan

Artist-in-residence at INSTINC | September and October 2013

Solo exhibition | Riparian
7 Nov 2013 – 31 January 2014

Interview by Fann ZJ

This is your second Artist-In-Residence [AIR]! Straight after Singapore, you will be headed to Japan for your third one AIR! Can you share with us this passion for residencies?

It all started in Berlin where I was undertaking a mentorship. Three and a half years ago, I came across Monika Grzymala’s work which influenced me greatly. Her experimental approach is pushing the boundaries of the possibility of what drawing can be. I had to meet Monika. I learnt a great deal during my mentorship with her and realised how similar we were many unexpected ways.

My second residency here in Singapore is for a different purpose. I was invited to hold a solo exhibition at the Australian High Commission in Singapore and I decided that instead of bringing work that I had already made for the exhibition I wanted the work in the exhibition to be made in response to the Singapore context. Physically living here and making here is very important to me, I want the environment to influence me. So that is when I approached INSTINC to apply for a two-month residency during which I could create a body of work to show at my exhibition. I am also using what I learnt in Berlin, for example adding different materials such as incorporating tape into my sculptures.

Having a residency like this has been a wonderful way to meet other artists. With AIRs, it takes time to get a sense of a place and immerse yourself in the new setting when you first arrive. Absorbing a new place triggers new work for me. I enjoy meeting other artists in the local community.

Tell us more about your experiences here in Singapore!

I have had a wonderful time here in Singapore. Constant walks along the river banks sparked off the inspiration for the show here. Walking by the river until late at night has made me notice how important this area is to people in this city. It is a place where people come together like the two rivers themselves. By walking along the river you also gain a sense of the history of this place, as though the river itself is a storehouse for memories.

Shih Yun has been immensely generous in sharing her time and linking the INSTINC artists-in-residence to the Singapore contemporary arts community. She brought us to Gillman Barracks to see the various galleries and to the Singapore Biennale. The artists at the Biennale spoke very honestly about what moves them and inspires them to make art. It was refreshing to hear artists speak so intimately about their work in a way that rarely occurs in Australia.

In my time here, I have been building relationships, writing email and most importantly making art. I dined a lot too! My schedule has been very crammed, trying to make the most of my time here.

You’ve done immensely well during your 2 months here! While working on your show here, you flew back to Australia for your solo exhibition, as well as work on a commission. What drives you?

I feel very fortunate to have two months to be completely focused on making art in such a stimulating setting. So I believe in giving it everything I’ve got and making the most of this time.

Tell us more about your works and the inspirations here in Singapore!

I have been trying to challenge myself technically here in this residency and push my practice as well as myself into new territory. As I mentioned, it is the first time that I have incorporated tape into my sculptures. The sense of light here is quite different to Australia, so I have been trying to capture the subtle shades of light in my work. By adding tape, my spatial drawings can catch and reflect light in a new way. This has created new visual possibilities that are quite exciting to me. My time here has given me the time to reflect and opportunity to see things afresh.

In my work, I explore the mechanism of memory, its different types and its expression manifested in different forms. I walked along the Singapore River at different times to get a sense of the place and how people use it. I want to try to understand what the river means to people. The site holds so many records of people walking past, and is witness to so many snippets of conversations. The architecture subtly shows us history.

From the site, I started working on the sculpture entitled “Displacement” where I studied the shadows and how they fall in relation to different quality of lights. This led to my paintings “Strands of Thought”, “Shades of Consciousness” and “After the Slipstream” which explore the river, the process and layering of different moments of feelings, physical moments, translated through scale, material, and the quality of the line.

What’s your perception of Singapore?

With the residency, I found it very easy to adapt to living and working in Singapore. I have felt very comfortable and it’s been easy to settle in. Singapore is such a multi-cultural city with the threads of cultures and the past inter-weaving in the city. I felt very lucky to have the opportunity to meet so many artists as part of the INSTINC residency. They have been so generous with sharing their time and what moves them in their art practice.

What were your biggest takeaways here in Singapore?

The biggest takeaway has been the shared experiences I’ve had with the people that I met here. I was very moved by some of the work in the Biennale, especially after hearing the artists speak so sincerely about their practices. Shih Yun has also invited me back to curate INSTINC’s 10 Year Anniversary, which is a very exciting prospect and a great honour. I am very much looking forward to meeting the other artists associated with INSTINC over its ten year life.