Publication: Greg Johns, Horizons, Commissions & Public Sculptures, Catalogue
Date: July 2002
Author: Greg Johns
In the late 1980s, during a visit to New York, three galleries indicated that they would
represent my sculpture, should I be prepared to move there. It was a tough decision,
career wise it was clearly the way to go, however, there was also the question of where
I felt my work would best develop.
Australia is a unique place, isolated and challenging. "New" in terms of landscape to
the eyes of incoming boat cultures. Socially and culturally these new arrivals are still
in the early stages of developing a relationship with and in turn insights into the
"new" environment they have entered. I find this situation as a sculptor, attractive.
Australia is a wonderful place to work sculpturally. I feel that for an artist with a
European ancestral background that it is "unmined". It is a new playground to play
in, there is still much to be discovered and revealed.
At the same time I am very much aware of European and other sculptural traditions
which precede me (from Greek Art to Eskimo sculpture). When that background
impacts with the very old physical / cultural aspects of Australia, a new hybrid arises,
reflective of where Australia perhaps now stands culturally. New forms arise. I have
not abandoned my historical background for postmodern theories of the popular.
History is a major player in shaping where we stand today.
The challenge sculpturally I set myself then in the early 90s was to produce work
which visually / conceptually reflected this place, but also remained connected with
big picture themes (underlying themes of myth which connect all cultures).
Notions surrounding indigenous culture, incoming cultures, landscape, concepts
in areas such as physics, psychology and technology and questions of spirit in an age
of scientific rationalism have all impacted on my work. Landscape has however in
recent times been perhaps the major influence.
This reading of landscape is a beneath the surface one. Visual aspects are seen
elements that may ignite feelings of that which cannot be seen but it is that which
cannot be seen, beneath the surface which produces the forms I am interested in.
As such, I am interested in the "psychological" landscape of Australia where interior
/ exterior both have a role to play and are connected.