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AD School Matters Episode 1 (with Lachlan Bell)

Welcome to the  AD School Matters podcast! Each episode we feature an interview with a creative from the student community at UNSW Art & Design. We aim to capture the diversity of our community, whether you’re studying locally or abroad we aim to build connection that extends beyond campus walls. Let’s embrace the diverse ways we study, create and play.

In this inaugural episode, podcast founder Aria Joshes and guest Lachlan Bell discuss mycelial networks of moodboards, archives and browser tabs. Also: midnight art projects, crop circles and Covid messaging.

Hosted by Aria Joshes
Mixed and edited by Aria Joshes
AD School Matters logo by Marissa Yang


Lachlan Bell (he/him)

Lachlan Bell on Instagram

Imogen is an emerging artist currently living and working on Bidjigal and Gadigal country. She is enjoying figuring out her practice but generally works at the intersection of creative and scientific knowledge frameworks and is interested in using art making as an attempt to better understand and engage with place. Imogen considers her practice a form of research where any work is a work in progress and is just a new iteration of what has been learnt, read and engaged with inside and outside the studio space.

AD School Matters Ep 01: Lachlan Bell
Episode Transcript

Lachlan Bell (LB): Hi everyone, my name is Lachlan, I used he/him pronouns. I'm currently finishing up my Bachelor of Design and Media on majoring in advertising and textiles and graphics, I started back in 2017. When semesters were a thing nowadays and I'm currently just wrapping up my internship to complete my degree.

Aria Joshes (AJ): Cool. So could you tell us about your creative practice?

LB: Yeah, so I guess I like to use that catch all term is multidisciplinary, I really do like to dabble in different areas. I particularly like, textiles, but also everything surrounding that. So, photography, sculpture, performing performance, and even as an aside, I do like branding and graphic design work and some more commercial aspects. I tend to gravitate towards archiving history as a place to sort of start my work sort of looking at, you know, the dark web of random academic essays and drawing from family stories. My Estonian background as well as things like mythology and things. Yeah, there's a lot of things that contribute to my works.

AD: Awesome. That sounds really interesting. I'm very much interested in archiving and history as well I think you get to collect a lot from starting from a place like that. So it makes a work seem more bigger and complex, don't you think?

LB: Oh, for sure. I totally agree. I think a lot of the reasons I enjoy archives because it does give a lot of credence to the work and you know can be art-wanky where like, You know you're referencing a painting of the painter of painting, but you know I think knowing what you're doing is building on top of what has come before you, I think is really important especially when you're dealing with, like, sensitive narratives or things that you know experiences that might not be your own. Even things like mythology or like belief systems that aren't your own. Having that starting point, I think is really important to make it authentic and still genuine it's not just, you know appropriating something that's not yours.

AJ: Yeah, definitely. I agree with you...I like where your head's at.

LB: I think it did change. I'd say university’s  definitely challenged. What I started off my practice. And I think the more I've listened to my peers about this specifically like diaspora, you know narratives that kind of reached their peak in the past couple years, the, I think universities really made my work a bit more sensitive and not as immediately, you know, not just a Wikipedia page but something that's more nuanced and more personal to myself.

AJ: Wow, I can definitely relate to you there. That's really awesome that you've been getting such an enriching experience from university in relation to your practice. So, how has your practice changed or been impacted by the global pandemic?

LB: (Laughs).This ongoing thing, I think, you know, undeniably it's made me think about how my work sort of encourages... prior to this pandemic, I used to like the idea of interactive works or works that could encourage touch or proximity so something like explicitly that's changed, like, textiles, having that distance from the viewer literally through social distancing or through digital screens... I find it really difficult to communicate. The reason I love textiles is because of that materiality and the ability for touch in the materials to be as much of the message. So that's that's one difficulty but I think the pandemic also grounded my practice a bit more. I felt like I could make sense or I was more aware of what I couldn't couldn't do within the limitations of my home, you know, Bunnings and the Hobbysew were like my most frequented places last year because not having... Like I was so lucky to have sewing machine at home because my grandma has a sewing Husqvana. And it made me very resourceful and economic with I couldn't, couldn't use especially you know, the whole economic challenge of, like, yes, we had job keeper and supplement. It was also quite tough to spend money, and I live with my family and my grandmother and my mum, and I felt there was much more collaborative approach to my work when I was, you know, they were involved during everything that past two years now. 

And, you know, making that connection and acknowledging that work that from the sides came in and I think also, you know, understanding and being aware of where my, my art and my, what my art was saying how it sit within a broader historical narrative, Like, yes, I can talk about the times I can talk about COVID, but like, what else am I going to say, because there's other stuff that was happening. And I felt like, you know, with all the noise that was happening in the 24 hour news cycle it was constantly you know, news about COVID outbreaks. I felt, being able to step back and being able to think about, okay, what do I want to say? Do I need to contribute to this? What's important to me to be saying, the moment? Yeah so I think those are the main areas that change.

AJ: Definitely the news that really does dominate those headlines and it's kind of sad because there's a lot of stories that are happening at the same time that are just as important that should be reported on. But we're not hearing about them that much because everybody's so fearful of, you know, the pandemic.

LB: Yeah, for sure. I think highlighting those personal narratives... You know, so much happened last year that wasn't. I'm still seeing artworks today in response to the Black Summer bushfires and that was such a traumatic experience for so many people. I think a lot of people brush off those works as being quite limited to that time period, almost like historical documents but no, they just as relevant... I wish more artists...I don't know how I feel about COVID artworks necessarily I've been somewhat tongue in cheek and a bit naff but I like the idea of making work that's in response to the times, but I think art is always responding to the time so whatever you make is always going to be relevant.

AJ: Yeah, definitely. Have you heard about... There was that was a petition I saw recently where they're trying to get a segment on the news that's all dedicated to the arts, and what's happening in the art world?

LB: Yeah, that was like the five minutes at the end. Kind of the idea of like sports reporting? Like how  can we shift that to arts reporting? Was that what you were talking about?

AJ: Yeah, but I still think it's good to have sports, if we got rid of sports my partner will not be happy.

LB: Definitely. 

AJ: Yeah, but having like a bit of art news is I think definitely relevant  because it does comment on everything else that's going on, it's like, you know it's not totally separate from the world. Because we’re... our works are always relating to what's going on in the world and to ourselves.

LB: Yeah, I think that, I think that diminishing that barrier between the art world and the real world is, if people can call it that... Yeah, I really liked that idea and I think, you know, you see some programs on ABC and that, going to the gallery, you know, regular people talking about art. I love those shows. I think yeah it definitely should be a more integral part of our news cycle. It’d be a nice distraction, I guess!

AJ: Yeah, definitely. So have your studies at UNSW helped to give you a different or new perspective during lockdown? Can you tell us more broadly about your experience studying during a global pandemic?

LB: Yeah, I mean, I feel really sorry for those in first year, I think they really missed out on that important breaking-in period of social aspect of study and I wonder what university will be like next year, you know? It's so uncertain and  so I really feel bad for them. You know, it was hard and I think for different people, it was varying levels of enjoyment.  Some, some subjects were great. I did a coding class digitally, I learned about web design and that works fine online. We had a course on post-porn, you know that that's the one that everyone has heard about; and doing that digitally was different. Was it as effective? I don't know because they didn't do the other, I didn't do it face to face but it, it created a new dynamic, I think with your review cohort, like being able to be face to face, and,