5 Questions with Peter Bainbridge

Peter Bainbridge 'Three Kings' - screenprint on paper

In these five questions, Artful Maverick Peter Bainbridge confides his newfound wisdom as an artist, career shooting for Vogue and reverence of the "ultimate underdog" Ned Kelly.  

1) You worked as a fashion photographer for many years.  When you decided to focus on making art, why did you turn to screen printing, as opposed to photography?

I’ve always drawn.  Photography is digital now and I studied photo-chemistry for 6 years.  When I was shooting I developed and printed all my own photography - it was an exhaustive process.  You’d have to develop the film, proof it, edit, and finally print the work. Time wise it was a nightmare, while now days it’s an instant process.  If you went to a fashion magazine today and said “I shoot film” they wouldn’t hire you, not in Australia anyway.

That said, film photography is making a comeback in Europe and America. The end result is stunning.  A photographer who shot film had tricks and secrets and craft.  You really thought about what you were producing.  Now it's shoot as many frames as possible and hope you go it.  It's become unimaginative and lazy - it's just too damn dull.

2) What have been some of your career highlights?

Being a craftsmen and knowing I did the best I could.  I had real fans within my peer base, and cherished that.  We respected each other, I think that’s still around with digital shooters but I can’t imagine it’s has the same value.

Other career highlights - being asked to shoot for Numero in Paris.  Having my work published in Korean, German and Australian Vogue.

3) What inspires you about Ned Kelly?  

The Ned Kelly's were my return to drawing.  How could you not be inspired by Ned Kelly?  Ned being the ultimate iconic underdog.  Australia’s Robin Hood.  A man trying to do the right thing under extremely difficult circumstances.

And then of course there’s The Kelly Gang's suit of armour, a brutal and terrifying design.  Can you imagine that coming at you in the middle of the Australian outback guns blazing and your bullets bouncing back at you?  I’d have screamed blue murder and raised my hands!

4) What is your artistic process like?  Why do you use such high-quality paper?

The quality thing comes from my Melbourne initiation.  Melbourne has that. And it's a quality-in, quality-out expectation. Plus, blind Freddy can see quality a mile away.

It's also easier to inspire with beautiful artisan products.  The people behind the artist's tools are artists in their own right.  Simply touching products like handmade French cotton paper is an experience in itself.  Before I put the works under glass I give collectors the opportunity to smell the ink and feel the paper.  It gives them a better appreciation of what they're about to own.

5) What do you enjoy about creating art?

The best thing about being an artist is surprising yourself - isn’t that what life is about?  When I get the line and colour right, my eyes widen.  It's the best feeling there is... "Art galleries are akin to confessional booths. Art is absolution for the soul”.

As an aside. One observation I’ve found... When I'm not drawing, I can see how the world ticks over in a clearer light.  Things make sense.  I understand why people outside the arts have a reverence for creatives.  I make no boast there, I just better comprehend the notion.  Seeing this play out in front of you - it's like splitting yourself into two.  Looking back seeing yourself as others do.  Well, kind of…

Click here to view Bainbridge's new collection.

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