'Dead Heading' by David Larwill
Having recently had the visual aesthetic of my Distillation Series likened to that of Melbourne based Roar artists, I was prompted to explore their work and philosophy. I knew nothing about them, but was intrigued to discover that in the 1980's, a discontented group of Melbourne art school students were paving the way for a new scene. Feeling uninspired by the current aesthetic trends of the time and that the 'art system' was rigid and impossible to break into, Roar artists opted out of the traditional gallery game, opening one of Melbourne's earliest artist-run spaces in a former shoe factory. It quickly gained traction for its support of Indigenous, female and untrained artists. Inspired by punk, graffiti and jazz, their work was brash, vital and intuitive.
True rebels of their time, Roar Studios represented a proverbial roar against the art establishment. Founded in 1982 on Brunswick Street Fitzroy, this artist-run-initiative eschewed aesthetic and career expectations, blazing a way for fierce, spontaneous and figurative art. Not only did these artists support typically unheard voices, they helped propel Outsider Art into the Australian consciousness. As art historian Christopher Heathcote states, Roar Studios was;
“The most creative irritant that had disturbed the Melbourne art system for years.”
Roar artists, who include David Larwill, Pasquale Giardino, Mark Schaller, Judi Singleton, Sarah Faulkner and Mark Howson, are now a respected force in Australian art. Their work synthesis an attitude - one of experimentation, dynamism and limitless possibility.
I'm inspired by their concept of 'limitless possibility'. For me, this is the single motivating factor that propels me into the studio, each and every day. Experimentation is key in my artistic process. Each new body of work is a testing ground for ideas, narratives and visual resolutions. Most inspirational for me though, is the Roar artists determination to press on with their work and collective vision, knowing that what they were doing was different, challenging and outside of the accepted conventions of the time. I applaud their youthful vibrancy and determination to make themselves visible on the artistic stage, committing to an alternative pathway to gain exposure. I am reminded that whilst occasionally opportunity knocks, more often that not, you have to go out and find that door and knock loud and clear yourself, reserving the right to roar through the doorway if necessary.
Information & photography credit: Angela Tandori Fine Art.