Monday, March 4, 2024
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Shawn – apocalyptic army artist

This is Shawn.

He is a half Norwegian (mum) and half Aussie Chinese (papa) artist who spent the first part of his life eating dumplings and playing on Excel spreadsheets in Singapore. His great great grandparents moved to Victoria in the 1850’s for the gold rush because they were #stereotypes which is why he ended up choosing to move to Melbourne in 2007 after his stint in the army..

WTF SINGAPORE HAS AN ARMY?
Yeah. We’re mostly a deterrent force because we have pretty big  neighbours. It’s a similar model to Israel, so it’s conscripted.

I’ve never been to Sing-a-Ling so imagine you just practised in office buildings.
No Sprink. We trained in the jungle, and would spend a week easily out there without showering. They gave us a white disinfectant powder to ‘shower’ in. I fckin loved it. A couple of my old platoon mates are my buddies for life.

You didn’t have a war tho?
Nah we would just do heaps of practises. We would have mock battles with supervisors running around and deciding who’d been shot. But fck me man a real war would be pretty scary. Seeing it on the Mickey Mouse scale that we practised on.. mate a huge battle would be f*cking confusing. The noises, the orders yelled at you..  this is so not interesting to anyone coming from a country with conscription.

It’s interesting. Are you good at laser tag?
Reckon I would be alright at paintball.

How did you go from army to artist?
In the army I was a reconnaissance signaller. Signals would come from the frontline to me, sitting there drinking coffee and having ciggies with a few other guys, and we would relay it to HQ. We were given little note books to write down the relayed signals and decode them. During the downtime, I’d start drawing and made lots of  observational sketches in the blank pages. I ended up trading the pictures for ciggies whenever I ran out.

Is that is why you do post-apocalyptic drawings?
Nah, I think it came from the European financial crisis in 2007 – I travelled around Eastern Europe for 6 months while all that was happening. There were heaps of empty houses and cars left on the side of the road –  no one had the money to repair them. You’d see beautiful plants growing out of engines all the time. It was sad but also quite beautiful.

Where have you been as an artists?
The craziest place was a gig in Romania. A couple of gypsies gave me trouble while I was painting a mural in Bucharest. Another standout was Queenstown in Tassie which is a really quiet small town where I was holed up for 3 months doing an artist residency.

Favourite thing to do in Melb?
The pubs in Fitzroy and Collingwood. Sitting with some friends having a drink and playing pool. Lulies Tavern, Rooks Return and The Union are my favourites.

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