Energy is contemporary, experimental and performance art from international artist Brett Ashby, where he takes his painting studio to the theatre. Four prominent Australians will be painted on canvas, whilst the artist rides a skateboard on ramps with a focus on the exchange of energy, art and power through physical whole body movement. The on-stage happenings and musical resonance will vibrate your skin, as Brett creates spontaneous energy representations, from spirit to form through the universe. We sit down with Brett ahead of the performance.
Can you tell us a bit about how you came up with this concept? Did something in particular inspire or influence you?
I first performed this style of public art skateboarding at the sculpture by the sea, Bondi NSW in 2013. Since then I’ve been very busy practising my art form representing energy within places and spaces. Many years ago I suggested I should do this in a theatre setting, things take time and that vision is now called Energy.
You’ll be painting four subjects – Lisa Edwards, Cash Savage, Sarah McLeod and Mick Harvey. Why did you choose these particular people?
I was in contact with many interesting and talented subjects. Some had things on or were abroad this September but the final line-up just aligned. I grew up skateboarding and playing drums to tracks by Sarah, The Superjesus; I met Lisa when filming her in a music video production back in 2009, early in my career. Cash and Mick are so vibrant and one of a kind, I had many friends listening to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds when I studied music videos at University in London in 2006. I’m so fortunate to be working alongside such energies.
Now we’re assuming you’ve got some skills on a skateboard! When did you first get into that, and how long have you been skateboarding for?
I’m a board rider, I surf, skate and snow board its that feeling of freedom and defying gravity that excites me. I’ve been doing this since a very young age firstly in the ocean then on skate ramps. I think it was the fear factor and the speed, which sparked my interest as a young boy. I skated vert ramps a lot throughout high school but at the age of fourteen, I had a major accident, which made me stop skateboarding for over 12 years. Although I was drawn back to skateboarding, this time as a part of my art.
Can you tell us a little bit about the soundscapes? What are these sounds inspired by?
I have commissioned the sound musicians to accompany me on stage; I’m very much a sound person. I grew up playing drums and believe without sound there is no light. The soundscapes resonate the space and this becomes visible through the painting. I’m interested in cymatics, singing bowls, gongs and harmonic overtone vocals. I hope these elements immerse the audience and can be experienced by all. This will be a sonic and visual representation of the subjects’ consciousness.
What was/is the most challenging part of this art performance?
The challenge is the process- making it happen. The actual art on stage is completely live and is dependent on every element working in unison. With the right intention everything will just flow through us.
What’s one thing you would say to people ahead of coming to see you at Melbourne Fringe?
Be prepared, this is serious energy. Can’t wait.
Watch Brett in action at Gasworks Art Park, Gasworks Theatre September 12-14. Visit melbournefringe.com.au for tickets.