Interview with Andrew Jack
This is an interview with Andrew Jack which took place on 22/5/02 in Byron Bay with Paul Francis, reviewing and updating his life from the previous interview which featured in News 8
Paul: Perhaps we can start by talking about your first time in Indonesia.
Andrew: I went to Bali for 2 months and met my wife,and that's how the story started.
Paul: Then staying there meant renewing your visa every 2 months?
Andrew: That meant copious amounts of travel, buses to and from Jakarta and flights to Singapore. We had a very simple beginning, selling art on the street.
Paul: And your 1st exhibition was in front of the Lotus Cafe in Ubud?
Andrew: Yes,[laughter]that was before I met my wife actually and after that we had an exhibition at the cultural centre in Jakarta, which we had no sales from that.
Paul: But at some point you connected with the Art world in Jakarta?
Andrew: Yes, there was a window there, my ex wife was a student of Dula ,who was a famous artist, who is now dead. After a couple of exhibitions at the bigger galleries, we met Joseph Salaim from Santi Gallery who really picked us up and we dealt with him for a number of years and it all went on from there.
Paul: So then you felt it necessary to have exhibitions in Singapore?
Andrew : Well, it's a line you follow, it's the next major art centre. I'd spent a lot of time there and knew dealers there. A friend up there is a woman by the name of Dala Butcher, who unfortunately is no longer with us. She was the 1st woman to start a contemporary art gallery in Singapore.
Paul: So in regard to the art world, going back to a quote from the last interview, you said that the movement of classical gamalan music was the basis for modernisation of music which bought out the passion of the people. Could the same thing be applied to art?
Andrew : Yes, well I was speaking in that context with regard to the inspiration of living in that environment. The gamalan music has always been there, it's the life blood of the people, it's always been there. Even before they were painting.
Paul:Do you think that's what draws so many artists to that part of the world?
Andrew: I think it's the feeling that brings the Artists there,the environment,the magic of Bali in particular is one of the biggest cliches, but it's true. Also Central Java, Bundung, there is a lot going on in the new performance work that's being reflected in the new artworks.
Paul: And being back here now for the last 6 years, do you feel that influence is still there in your work?
Andrew: I'm trying to keep it [laughter]. It's time to go back!!!!!! Its all of South East Asia, Japan and the whole Kaboodle. I miss it a lot,but at the same time, I need to develop a sense of presence here so I can finance my trips there and just paint.
Paul: Do you feel a sense of community support here as a artist?
Andrew:There is a lot of stimulation in Byron, but you ask any artist, it's a difficult place to do business, It's a great place to work, but you're better doing your business outside Byron. You can be with other artists or be by yourself. It's a small place, you really need to get out to cities. So you have had a couple of exhibitions on the Gold Coast and one coming up in Singapore?
Andrew: Yes, one more coming up in Singapore at Gallery Dorphin and that will probably carry on to Kuala Lumpar in Malaysia with about 30 or so paintings.
Paul : As an Australian artist, why do you feel it's necessary to have a cultural exchange between Australia and Indonesia?
Andrew: It's important to exchange the sharing of ideas and necessary to have that stimulation of music and poetry to visit here. It Stimulates the artists here and encourages our artists to visit, without losing your identity as a westerner, receive information and gain growth. All artists are people of growth. It's like food, you take the good and leave the rest.
Paul: Would you be interested in being involved with another Indonesian artist or having an exhibition with other Indonesian artists who live in byron bay.
Andrew: I`d be interested in supporting it, but I don`t know about Byron Bay. I`m probably more Lismore Art gallery.
Paul: What about the Gold coast. Andrew: Yes gold coast possibly, its a matter of what sort of work it is, what sort of quality it is, subject matter, or a good sponsor or gallery that is interested that would take the chance.
Paul: how do you feel about living here now opposed to living in Indonesia for those 8 years.
Andrew:Byron Bay has the same feeling as living in Indonesian in some ways, talking about the arts. A lot of potential for growth in all directions. I prefer living in south asia, its cheaper and there's less distractions.
Andrew:Yes Financial pressures. I`ve done my time in being broke in Indonesia. Eating Goat soup. Australia`s a developed country, you've got a lot of taxes, rents are high and its quite difficult to survive as an artist especially when you are just coming up. Distance also, Indonesia has a more consolidated art centres, you've got Bali where a lot of art work is sold and Jakarta and possibly bundal with a set group of collectors that know what to collect in indonesia. Where as here you have a lot more competition.
Paul: So over there its more developed and has a sense of structure to it.
Andrew:It`s smaller, its more structured because of that smallness. Where as there's a wealth of galleries in Australia, everyone's got a gallery in Australia or wants your work. Because the art scene is smaller in Indonesia, there's not so much competition. Talking about bigger galleries, poor established artists and the prices are based on the u.s. markets, you get more money for your paintings over there than you do here.
Paul: Just looking through the Indonesian Arts alliance newsletter from a couple of years ago about all of the atrocities going on in Timor and now they have become independent . As far as the future goes its important to have a positive attitude, no matter where we go, in Byron, In Indonesia. Things are always open to change, always developing. What I`m saying is that the art scene here will mature along the same lines as Indonesia eventually.
Andrew: Of Course with Australia everyone can be an artist, where as there you really have to be dedicated because there's not a lot of money when your starting off. But with what s coming out of jakarta at the moment there's more contemporary work, more abstract work coming out of this place now. I was at a number of exhibitions in Singapore last June and its very good work and its selling for a good price, but these guys are quite established in Indonesia.
Paul: So they are reaping the fruits of their austerity.
Andrew: I don`t know about reaping the fruits but they are getting what they are due. Its hard no matter where you are in the world, its always a bit of a battle but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Paul: Good luck with your upcoming exhibition in Singapore and thank you for your time.
Andrew: Your welcome.