Get to know Mark du Potiers
Museum of Brisbane’s Artist-in-Residence program provides visual artists, designers, poets, writers, curators, musicians and performers with platforms to respond to the Museum environment, the city of Brisbane and its community. Click here to learn more. As part of the program, we sat down with our current Artist-in-Residence, Mark du Potiers, to discuss the intersections between arts-making, cultural identity and shared storytelling.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Mark and I’m a contemporary sculptor. I explore cultural identities and anxieties through various — often playful and interactive — methods of making art. I’m primarily working with fabrics for my residency, but in the past, I have incorporated rooms filled with colourful balloons; sky-high piles of office furniture; fragile antiquated ceramics that are intended to be smashed; enough glue to fill a small pool; and an excessive quantity of terrible dad-jokes.
As an Australian with Chinese heritage, how does your upbringing and cultural identity inform your creative practice,and vice versa?
In 1957, my dad came to Brisbane from Hong Kong at the age of twelve. He grew up in and around the Clayfield area, where I live now, which affords me a connection to a wealth of family history. I experienced feelings of confusion in my identity and belonging during my formative years, and I can imagine my father encountered the same. He is a rather stoic and enigmatic man, so I don’t often get answers when I ask him questions. An enduring thread of my practice is exploring trajectories of our stories and the parallels between them.
I have been an Australian for the entirety of my existence, and my dad has spent the majority of his life here. A core question I examine through my art is what it means to be an Australian today, and by extension, what it means to be a Brisbanite. Are you allowed to decide this for yourself or do others decide it for you? I don’t profess to know the answers for anyone, let alone myself, but I think it is healthy for all audiences to question the complexities of their own identity.
What do you plan to create during your Museum of Brisbane Artist-in-Residence program? And how does collaboration, interaction and play feed into your work?
I’m creating a large textile installation, and during this time, I have enjoyed welcoming many points of engagement with the lovely audiences at Museum of Brisbane and beyond. I’m creating opportunities for as many diverse voices as possible – through inviting interaction in person; within the studio; online; and with other artists and creatives. I am always open to providing multi-sensory experiences, as each person engages differently – I love the challenge of incorporating the full gamut of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. For example, having a previous work of mine on show in the studio space — one that welcomes visitors to handle antiquated Chinese pottery — exhibited alongside a big inviting bowl of bottomless sweets, appeals to my desire to playfully stir the senses.
Your residency involves conversations with creative people of Asian descent about how their lived experience influences their creativity. What are your findings so far?
It has been an absolute privilege and honour to be entrusted with so many heartfelt and deeply personal stories. Many of the recollections are experiences I have encountered myself, so I definitely have had a strong shared connection with all of my invited guests. Perhaps the enduring advice through all the conversations is that life will get better – hang in there; let’s keep talking.
Any exciting projects coming up that you’d like to share?
Sleep is exciting and one day I’ll come back to it. In the meantime, I’m facilitating free events as part of my open-studio project. This includes an all-ages drop-in workshop on Sunday 7 July, where I’ll be inviting guests to create their favourite meal from colourful paper.
Additionally, I have many external projects running concurrently with all of my residency activities, and the best place to have a squizz is my Instagram feed – http://instagram.com/blisteredhand