04 Nov Curatorial Conversation with printmaker Kate Banazi
THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD with whom you fall instantly in step. People you can’t help but like immediately, who put you at ease and make you feel like you’ve known them your whole life. Artist KATE BANAZI is one such person. Perhaps that’s part of the reason for her success – we’re drawn to her infections personality that shines through her art – an unbreakable link between creator and creation. Her generosity is embedded in the give and take of screen-printing ink on Perspex; her quick wit mimicked in the boldness and sharpness of colour and line; the history of people and places that have surrounded her, influenced her, moved her across continents are reflected in stratums that build up to become a multi-layered masterpiece. She’s blissfully unaware of the effect she has on people, and would rather hide away in her studio – her second home – than face the maddening crowds of a show. But in this interview we find that she still does crave a connection. She wants the viewer to see what she saw, to feel joy and recognise the ugly as well as the beautiful. Oh, and she’s a science geek too. Photographer Anne Graham shot her in her Sydenham studio.
Where are you from? What is your favourite thing to do in your city?
I’m originally from London, but moved with my son and Aussie husband to Sydney in 2006. We love taking our dog over to Rose Bay and going for a swim with him and friends. I also love to lie on the earth and listen.
Who or what inspires you?
Science, geometry, astronomy, people, places, things and ideas.
Where do you go to find inspiration?
Working through ideas inspires me. The act of making creates its own inspiration.
Describe your studio in three words.
Home from home.
What do you love about being an artist?
The freedom, progression and transformation.
What are its challenges?
What do you hope people feel/think/see when they view you work?
Joy, chaos, an emotional response, that they have an understanding of how I felt, recognise what I saw.
Your most recent collaboration is with Spanish painter Diego Berjon, but you’ve collaborated with many talents over the years. What draws you to collaborating?
Collaborations are really important for me. They bring in the fresh energy of another mind and start an intuitive process that inspires my own work. They’re often very challenging – you’re either preparing a work or going over someone else’s work so there is a definite feeling of respect or making sure to leave space for your partner to leave their mark and let them resolve the final outcome. Finding the balance is often quite hard in a collaborative piece, but some pieces come so naturally that it’s a joy.
How would you describe your work?
Graphic, bold, multi layered, beautiful, ugly.
Did you always want to be an artist?
I wanted to be an astronaut. Two things ‘scuppered’ that – being mathematically challenged and not liking confined spaces. I think I saw one of their meals on children’s TV which was really the nail in the coffin of that chosen career path for me!
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you.
Being present at the end of a life.
Describe you morning routine.
I don’t have a routine, I like to keep some sort of spontaneity in my days!
What do you love doing in your downtime?
What jobs have you done other than creating art?
So many it’s ridiculous, most of them just to get by. Jobs I’ve done (in no particular order): paper rounds, waitress, market stalls, retail. I’ve worked in nightclubs, bars and restaurants, on magazines, in publishing, design, illustration and fashion. On videos, TV shows and no-budget movies. As a cleaner, babysitter and a floor sweeper. Some of those jobs I may only have lasted a matter of hours in! Self employment is, without doubt, the hardest.
How has your heritage influenced your work?
I was born in London and being mixed ethnicity I had strong influences outside of Western culture alongside a truly diverse community. Although those influences often represent a visual starting point for my work, they may not be apparent in a final piece.
I hope people see joy, chaos, an emotional response, that they have an understanding of how I felt, recognise what I saw.
Do you have a favourite song?
Too many! D’Angelo is a consistent favourite at work on a loop along with Ta-Ku, Kate Bush, Rod Stewart, Martina Topley Bird, King Krule, Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar. I do like something to sing along with, even if my studio mates hate me for it.
Where has been your favourite place to visit? And where would you like to explore?
I don’t have a favourite place. Some of the destinations would be tinged with nostalgia, some with other emotions of exploration or freedom. The West Indies is a very special place, Corsica was magical. There’s a feeling going back to London after having lived away from it, seeing it with a renewed enthusiasm which I enjoy. I live in Australia but I haven’t explored it, so the Bungle Bungles, Kakadu, the Tiwi islands are on the list.
Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Take any advice with a pinch of salt! And a recent favourite courtesy of Dame Helen Mirren: “At 70 years old, if I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be to use the words ‘fuck off’ much more frequently.”
Advice you’d like to pass along to new artists?
Do it for yourself and no one else.
Future dream project?
A collaboration with NASA!
Photography by Anne Graham.