Tuesday, July 18, 2017

CANBERRA CRITICS CIRCLE WINTER CONVERSATION 2 - GUEST: ALEXANDER BOYNES

Alexander Boynes - Helen Musa
Photo: Anni Doyle Wawrzynczak

 Gorman Arts Centre, 17 July 2017


by Michelle Potter

Alexander Boynes’ career has already been hugely varied. He is currently program manager at the Canberra Contemporary Art Space and his personal arts practice includes painting, photography, print media, light-based work, and video installation. In addition, with his sister Laura Boynes, a dancer, and cellist and composer Tristen Parr, he works with the Perth-based multi-disciplinary collective PRAXIS as the group explores connections between dance, visual art and sound. Not only that he is closely involved with artist Mandy Martin (Boynes’ mother) in a project with indigenous communities in Arnhem Land to preserve their cultures and ecology. So it was no surprise that the discussion at CCC’s second winter conversation ranged across many different topics.

What I found most interesting in what was a robust discussion was Boynes’ personal approach to art making, especially collaborative work. He suggested that there were two essential elements to successful, collaborative art making — playfulness and honesty with a need for absolute trust between those involved. Never be afraid of failure he said.

He also made the point that the arts should not provide answers but raise questions for the audience to consider and ponder upon. At the core of art is how it makes the audience feel, how it speaks to their emotions. Boynes’ passion for the local arts scene also came through strongly, and he acknowledged the influence on his work of Robert Foster.

As for his current projects, he is most excited about an environmental series he is working on with Mandy Martin. They are examining, amongst other issues, the collapse of industry in Geelong. And having recently returned from Geelong where I was recording an oral history interview with illustrator Robert Ingpen, I can understand why.


Perhaps my favourite remark of all though was Boynes’ statement that art needs to say something. It needs content as well as being aesthetically pleasing.

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