Scoop catches up with artist Gregory Pryor as he completes the final six pieces for his latest exhibition Looking Glass, to chat about the purpose of the exhibition and how he uses landscapes to inspire his work.
Greg oozes the sort of disciplined creativity that only a working artist can, especially one who is also juggling being a university lecturer and father. Coming to the end of a three month period spent developing the artwork in an ‘incubator’, as he describes it, Greg reflects on the process it’s taken to get the exhibition ready.
Despite feeling relief at the end of a big project, Greg says he often finds he doesn’t want to have to re-enter the ‘real world’. It’s no surprise, since his artistic studies of land certainly feel like a portal into some kind of parallel existence and greater understanding of self.
He says he had no strict objective in the creation of Looking Glass; ‘It’s important for me that I’m not having such a watertight objective in making a work that when it’s finished it becomes dead for me – it’s not like I’ve ticked that box and I’ve made my statement.’ Greg says that objective of his work is more personal than anything else; when he sees his own artwork years after finishing it – whether in a gallery or in someone’s home – he can quickly sense whether or not it still retains its meaning.
But he still acknowledges that he wants to draw audience attention to the contentious history of the Western Australian landscape. ‘One of the objectives is that people see the landscape and they see that contentious thing that I’m dealing with,’ he says, ‘they see that there’s trouble there.’
The title of the work, Looking Glass, alludes not only to the work as a portal through which to view our surrounds in a new light, but also to Greg’s own process of sorting out his impressions of our landscape. ‘I’m looking but I’m struggling to see clearly too… because of my lack of knowledge, my foreigner status here. So I try to foreground that in my work. I certainly don’t feel that I understand what I’m looking at.’
Greg’s calm acceptance of his positioning in Australian history and culture is refreshing, and comes after 13 years in WA spent exploring our landscape and the culture and loss associated with it. ‘I find the potency of that landscape so overwhelming that if I go out for a week … that would be enough to sustain me for years,’ he says.
WA Now – Gregory Pryor – Looking Glass is on display at the Art Gallery of Western Australia from Saturday 2 September through to 26 February 2018. Find out more.
Image: Gregory Pryor
Looking Glass 2017 (detail)
watercolor, charcoal, Balga (Xanthorrhoea preissii) resin and glass on paper
1585 sheets, dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist