INTERVIEW

A reflection of my queer life

Queer Canberra artist Louis Grant uses fluid mediums to speak of social and psychological spaces that can themselves be seen as 'unstable compounds'. He is currently exhibiting at Tuggeranong Arts Centre.
FUSE  |  Art & Culture
Louis Grant
Louis Grant (Centre) and Friends

Often generated from personal narratives, Louis Grant fashions oversensitive, hyper-fragile entities that are not so much fragile because they’re made of glass, but because of the emotional tumult they’re arranged in and by. ‘I know my age and I act like it’, is a reflection on the end of his 20’s. It recalls the melodramatic, nostalgic and often love-sick times.

We had a quick chat with Louis about his exciting body of work.

Can you tell us the story behind the name of your exhibition, "I know my age and I act like it"?

The exhibition is a reflection of the past few years of my practice and my life. 

The work is thematically tied to previous exhibitions, but I've taken the chance to think about this time leaving my 20s behind. The exhibition is comprised of new works, recent works, and some older works from the vault. I think it has been really exciting to be able to look at a small evolution of practice and to create a new dialogue between the works and my thinking in the work. 

Like all of my works, the title has been extracted from pop lyrics. These titling systems are poised on the edge of being too much, drawn from the melodrama of millennial social media experience across changing (earlyish) formats such as MSN Messenger and Facebook - which feel very queer-coded.

What have been some of the influential experiences that shaped your approach to glass art?

Travelling overseas for opportunities at other glass schools and working for other artists are always huge learning and shaping experiences. They build vital skills and also just make you think outside of what you would normally just default to in your studio. 

When did you first become interested in working with glass?

Back when I was in year 11 or 12. I did a week residency through school at the ANU School of Art & Design, glass was one of the workshops we got to visit. I then took two workshops at the Canberra Glassworks, it was just so different to anything I had done before. This then meant I also had glass in my portfolio to apply to art school - I ended up going to ANU ! 

In this exhibition, how do you feel the works articulate queer experiences?

I consider glass as a queer material; it is non-binary, not liquid or solid, neither this nor that. My employment of the medium makes evident social, psychological and material activities that are themselves unstable compounds and unresolved solutions.
You've included other mediums as well as glass; tell us a bit about that.

I love the contrast of materials, in aesthetics and also conceptually. In this show I have incorporated industrial objects found in the studio, recontextualising them as sculptural elements and exhibition furniture. 

What's your favourite piece in this exhibition and why?

My favourite work in this show is "wondering if I dodged a bullet or just lost the love of my life," which is the 'flag' that I made with my mum. It's pretty special to have been able to work with her to make something for the show. 

Above: Louis Grant wondering if I dodged a bullet or just lost the love of my life.

What advice would you offer to other emerging artists, particularly those exploring their identity through their art?

For any emerging artist my advice would always be to just show up. Show up to openings, to social events, open studios, artist talks. Network and learn from others around you. It is super rewarding, fun and it pays off. 
For those exploring identity through your work my advice is that you can leave little secrets in your work that's just for you, it doesn't have to be everything all out in the open on show. 

Looking forward, what are some of the new challenges or projects you want to undertake, and how do you see your work evolving in the next few years?

I'm really excited to scale up my work and to work with some other materials. I'll be presenting work in this year's Canberra Art Biennial later this year! 

Image: Louis Grant, Camp (performativity), blown and cold worked glass, neon, electronic timer, steel, paint, 2023. Photo by Brenton McGeachie

I KNOW MY AGE AND I ACT LIKE IT

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Louis Grant is an interdisciplinary early career artist based on Ngunnawal land (Canberra), whose practice focuses on glass as a main material to speak of a queer identity, notions of fluidity, instability, care and fragility. Firmly embedded in the technical understanding of glass (from undergrad studies in glass through to ongoing work at Canberra Glassworks and as a technical assistant to senior artists, and fabricating of the Australian of The Year awards at the Australian National University), Louis works to shift the positions within the discipline and the (traditionally largely masculinised) spaces of production, queering the medium and deviating from what is understood as ‘proper’ form and finish. His practice responds to the discipline of glass – taking the ‘mastery’ of traditional craft beyond a skill set into a subject position to speak of gender and power issues.

The Tuggeranong Arts in Canberra continues to present art and theatre that explores issues of equity, diversity, inclusion and access, and they invite you to join in. Find out what is happening this month at Tuggeranong Arts Canberra from the link below:

MORE EXHIBITIONS TUGGERANONG ARTS

For more than 25 years, the Tuggeranong Community Arts Association has delivered artistic programs and events, with a focus on participation and accessibility, and helped shape a sense of pride in the local community.

TUGGERANONG ARTS
137 Reed Street
Greenway Tuggeranong
(02) 6293 1443

OPENING HOURS
Tuesday to Friday, 10am-5pm
Saturday, 10am-4pm
Mondays, scheduled classes only

Tuggeranong Arts Centre



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