Season Four – Christopher Bassi

Image credit: Rhett Hammerton

Christopher Bassi

Season 4 – Episode 1




Met Museum

Museo Del Prado


Instagram handle @christopher_bassi

Yavuz Gallery – Christopher Bassi


00:00:00 Kiera Brew Kurec
Hi, I’m Kiera Brew Kurec

00:00:01 Nick Breedon
and I’m Nick Breedon

00:00:02 Kiera Brew Kurec
Welcome to Pro Prac,

00:00:04 Nick Breedon
Where we explore the professional practice of artists

00:00:06 Kiera Brew Kurec
and hear their stories.

00:00:09 Nick Breedon
Christopher Bassi is an artist of is an artist of Meriam, Yupungathi and British descent. Working with archetypal models of representational painting, his work engages with the medium as sociological and historical text, and as a means to address issues of cultural identity, alternative genealogies, and colonial legacies in Australia and the South Pacific. Through a type of critical reimagining, his paintings become a space for a type of speculative storytelling that considers questions of history and place and the entangling of personal and collective identities.

00:00:46 Kiera Brew Kurec
Christopher, Thank you so much for joining us on the show today. We are really, really happy to have you. And we would, love to kick off the show by asking you how you came, to be an artist and how you came to be where you are today

00:01:00 Christopher Bassi
I’ve heard a few of these, Pro Prac podcasts. And I also like that a lot of the artists start from. The very beginning. So,

00:01:08 Kiera Brew Kurec
yeah start where ever you want

00:01:09 Christopher Bassi
I was, I was born on Yagara and Turrbal country in 1990, Meanjin, and, I’ve pretty much been here my entire life. So, I went to primary school and high school and then university education and I’ve sort of, you know, always had those inklings of maybe I should move to another city or maybe I should try something different. But I think there’s just something about this place that, that resonates with me. It’s something to do with home, I think, and, family. And I think that that sort of comes through in my practice as well. So yeah, I mean like thinking about myself as a, as a child. So I was, I’m an only child. My, my father was born in Adelaide and my mother was born on Thursday Island. She’s a Meriam and Yupungathi woman. And yeah, I just, I grew up in In town here and I think like, you know, I do often reflect on my, my childhood and what it was like to be an only child and to sort of occupy my own time. And I don’t know if it’s like that. I don’t know if it’s like that. You know, I mean, I don’t know if it’s like that when you have brothers and sisters but for me, I was always just really interested in drawing and making and I think I just had a lot of creative energy as a, as a young person. And that was really, I think, my mother was someone that really saw that in me, I think when I was about seven years old, she, she enrolled me into an oil painting.

00:02:55 Kiera Brew Kurec

00:02:56 Christopher Bassi
Class. Yeah. I know. So it’s like.

00:02:59 Nick Breedon
Child prodigy.

00:03:02 Christopher Bassi
Well, like, I mean, I mean, it’s funny, you know, I just remember, and it was just this, this lady that lived in our suburb that, you know, I don’t know how mum found this woman who was just like practicing out of her garage and, I’d go there once a week and sort of learn, you know, basic skills, oil painting skills, but you know, that, that sort of lasted, that was about seven, eight, nine. I’ve got like three years of memories of that. And I have like these. Sort of like still life paintings that I have stuck my mum like sort of holds on to because she’s like, this is my, you know,

00:03:40 Kiera Brew Kurec
But that’s like amazing to be using that material at such a young age. Like I, I feel like I was still writing in pencils at that age, not even using pen, let alone understanding oil paints

00:03:51 Christopher Bassi
Yeah. I mean, I, so true. Like I do kind of. I wonder, you know, it’s sort of like beyond my memory to think like what might have been the push for me to get into something like that, like in that way, I can see how like my parents played a role in sort of like offering me the space to explore a medium that, I mean, I mean, my mum doesn’t even really you know, she’s not incredibly, versed in like art, art and art practice. And, you know, I wonder why she might’ve like, you know, my mum ‘s a very social person. So I’d imagine that she would have just like met, the, like my, this, art teacher like around the suburbs and then she would have been like, Oh, my son loves drawing. Like, you know, can he come to you? And like, so yeah,

00:04:43 Nick Breedon
he’s gotta to get out more.

00:04:45 Christopher Bassi
He’s an only child and he’s just inside drawing. But I say that, but I also have like, you know, I’m, I’m an only child, but. I grew up pretty close with my cousins and, particularly on my mum ‘s side. Like there was that, my auntie used to live in town. I had like, cousins that I was quite close with and my mum ‘s one of nine. So I think I have like 60 cousins. So we’re all pretty like, we’re connected, but you know, as time goes, everybody sort of moves and, but I, you know, I have those memories of having, you know, I wasn’t, you know, have like that sort of family lineage that I’m sort of connected to. But yeah, so, you know, it was kind of like drawing and painting and I did three years of that. And then, and then it sort of just didn’t continue. Like I just, you know, I had these paintings and I, and I kind of left it once I reached high school. And I think, you know, I went to, I went to high school and I’m not sure if I went to a particularly art, not that like, I don’t know how to say this, like art focused, but like, I don’t know if they valued art in a way, you know what I mean? Like I’m sure that that’s like, I’m sure that’s a experience that lots of people have when they go into high school and you don’t feel particularly supported to explore that, or potentially it’s just like the people that you’re around, it just doesn’t feel like that’s, you don’t understand how that could be anything other than like something that you like to do, and so I, you know, I sort of did just regular subjects in high school. Like, yeah, just like, you know, your maths and English is, I really enjoyed English, maths I was pretty average at, but no, you know, I enjoyed, I enjoyed those subjects and then, you know, I went through high school pretty, you know, pretty, you know, I, I think I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I, when I was going through high school, I think that, you know, reflect on my, I was, you know, I’m the first one in my family to go to university and so I didn’t really have a, I didn’t really have a, a point of reference or anything like as to like what, what it meant to even study or what it meant to even like think beyond, you know, think, think about a future like that. And so, and so I finished high school and, um. And I started an engineering and commerce degree at the university.

00:07:30 Nick Breedon
What a combo.

00:07:32 Christopher Bassi
I know. And so, and that is just like a pure, that is just a pure, expression of like the sort of environment that I was sort of growing up in through high school. You know, this idea that, and, and, you know, you know, it comes from a lot of places. I reflect on my own. I reflect on myself constantly and how I operate in the world and there is this sense of, security and sense of, like, you know, I’m, I’m, I’m an only child and, you know, as I grow older, my relationship with my mum changes, like it’s, it’s always, it’s always been very strong, but it’s also, you know, thinking about family in different ways and thinking about your responsibility to family and I think that I’ve always had that, in my psyche, you know, to think that like, it was sort of my responsibility to think beyond myself and you know, one day, you know, I might have to hold the reins or something, and so like, you know, these sort of jobs that you have in your head as tried and tested ways through or like, you know, you know, you know, security, a sense of stability, a sense of security. And so I started that. And then I did that for a year, but at that time, I kind of went through a bit of a, emotional journey as well. I lost my my father to, to cancer when I was 18 and so, so, and, and I talk about it openly because I think that it’s an important part of my journey because I, it gave me time to reflect on life at a very early age and reflect on, you know, what, what, what would make a good life for me, you know, like it, you know, I was going through, I was going to this university degree. I didn’t quite feel like. It was something that I liked doing. I was just doing it because I thought that I had to do it. And then, you know, this sort of moment, this sort of fracture in life happened. And then it was, it opened up this space for me to be like, well, hang on a minute. Like I got to reflect on who I was and it helped me maybe think a lot more philosophical about life and, yeah, and then I sort of was like, actually, I need to, I need to explore this part of myself, you know, which was a very creative energy that I’ve had throughout my entire life. And so I, I ended up, leaving that university degree and going to QCA. Queensland College of Art, and I enrolled into a design degree, like a communications design degree. And this was about when I was like 20, 20, I think. And, again, I was like, got, I started that. And I think, again, it was attached to a kind of pragmatic thinking. It was like, Oh, well,

00:10:22 Nick Breedon
I’ll do the design. I’ll do the kind of one that pays the bills

00:10:25 Christopher Bassi
that’s right. That’s right. Exactly. So it was purely, it was purely a decision made about like, okay, well I’m giving up, you know, I’m, I’m deciding to move from this, this very structured life of an engineer or something and then shifting across to something that I still am very worried about, you know, stability and things like that. So design feels like it could be a job, you know, and this, and I had no idea that art practice or to be an artist was a job at this, at this part of time in my life. So, you know, I, I started the design degree and, you know, I met some incredible people and I was doing it for about a year and a half. And I think I was still processing some personal things at the time as well. And to be honest, I don’t, I don’t actually think that I was quite ready to be back at university. And so I was kind of like forcing myself, but also like, you know, it was opening up new ways of thinking. And, at that time I got a job, at a clothing company in, in town that was kind of relatively new and they kind of were doing like fun and like funky designs and I ended up working there as a, originally as like a fabric cutter, like just cutting the fabric, like patterns out of, the clothing, like, you know, they were getting manufactured in Brisbane as well. And, and then I was doing that for a little bit and then I, got the guts to ask the manager. I was like, Hey, look, I’m really interested in drawing and, you know, I was consistently drawing and like, you know, I was looking at comic books and, you know, teaching myself how to paint on Photoshop and things like that with like a Wacom tablet and, and then I ended up, yeah, asking the owner and the owner, I said, like, look, I want to be a designer. And so I, um. And so I got a shot as the, as like part of the design team and I was like 21, you know, and so like I was doing some pretty incredible projects like that were like, you know, incredible for a 21 year old, like they were doing like stuff with like Disney and stuff with like, um you know, other sort of brands that were like big sort of company names. And I was like getting to draw like, you know, the Game of Thrones logo and things like that and from scratch and it was getting put on clothes and I just felt like a sense of accomplishment. Like I felt like I was seeing my work getting, even though, you know, it was like, you know, just commercial stuff, but I ended up leaving design. I ended up leaving design degree then when I got that job. So I sort of started that and then ended up moving into this space where I was like designing and I ended up being at this, this company for about five years and, you know. It was an important part of my creative journey because it gave me the space to learn, you know, I essentially learned how to paint there. Not, not with, not with oil painting, but like by digital painting with the Wacom tablet and Photoshop. And I spent so much time, you know like thinking about time and light and like, you know, one day I’d have to paint something cartoony and one day I’d have to come in and paint like a hyper real flower or something like that. And so it was this incredibly creative space where I was just like being asked to make anything and everything. And, you know, it taught me the Adobe product skills. It taught me, it taught me, how to, you know. Literally think about like, you know, the fundamentals of, of painting is thinking about like from a figurative point of view and the way that I sort of paint today is thinking about depth and thinking about how you create depth on a two dimensional surface.

00:14:06 Nick Breedon

00:14:06 Christopher Bassi
And so that’s what this was. I mean, like, that’s how I learned how to paint. And then. It’s like, you know, I, I feel like I hope I’m not sort of digressing or going off.

00:14:16 Nick Breedon
what a great time to practice your skills and get paid to do it.

00:14:21 Christopher Bassi
Totally. It was like, it was like an internship for learning how to draw, you know.

00:14:27 Nick Breedon
Yeah. How awesome.

00:14:29 Christopher Bassi
And, And, you know, they’re all sort of building blocks to like sort of where I am today as well. But I was at this place for about five years. So by the time I turned 25, I became a bit more conscious. I think I’d had time to process things in life and start became a bit more conscious of like this idea of a journey or a pathway of my own, like thinking about like what I actually, I think I was in a bit of like fight of flight mode for the first five years and I was just kind of like keeping myself busy and then, you know, by the time I was 25, I was like reflecting on what I was doing and I was like, well, you know, I think I’ve reached the point where I’ve done enough here and like, it’s just like, it became really commercial and, you know, I just felt like I wanted more, I was thinking more philosophical about life and, and I started to look, because I’m sort of like an autodidact in the way that I was painting. I was looking at comic books, but then I started, I was looking at paintings. I just started to look at paintings a lot as to like how to paint. And so, yeah, by the time I was 25, I was like, I need to go back. I need to get back to study and that was actually that that was the enrolment in QCA for the second time through the fine art program where I majored in painting and art theory and that was that was the that was the point where I sort of went back in and um fully applied myself to it like yeah, I just remember it just being transformative to me. Like, I think I was learning about things that I just never really. knew was possible. I was, I had lecturers there that were practicing artists that were, you know, not just teaching me how to paint, but also teaching me how to be, how to, how to be an artist or like be in the art world. And, you know, even just knowing what the art world was, like I would go to shows around town and be the complete, I would feel like, you know, I had no, I like, it was so remove from my, every day I’d go there completely by myself and just like,

00:16:36 Nick Breedon
so awkward, what do I do with my hands? I don’t know how to be here right now.

00:16:41 Christopher Bassi
I totally, and like, you know, we all know what it’s like. I mean, some people are so. Because I was a bit later and like 25 is not really late, but it was like in an awkward stage where like people had already been there for like a few years and they’d already had like little clicks and like people, you know, creative people, like no other creative people. And I just was like, I sort of just didn’t know anyone, but I think like, I was, I’m quite, I was just like, I just had a sense of wonder, you know, like, I just was like, just like, I really, my main focus was that I just loved painting, you know? And like, I think that that was just. That’s just continuously been the thread in my life is that like, I just can’t live without it. And so like, I just go to all these things, just, just thinking about, you know, like just, just meeting people and just like loving to connect with people and just thinking about art and thinking about painting and, you know, no sort of like agenda. Like I just didn’t, because I didn’t know that I didn’t know what this thing was to be, you know, I didn’t have aspirations to be a practicing artist, really, you know, I was just there to kind of Figure out art, you know, and then

00:17:48 Nick Breedon
we’re just crying over here in the studio.

00:17:50 Christopher Bassi
Oh, ( laughter)

00:17:52 Nick Breedon
I love painting.

00:17:54 Christopher Bassi
No, but you know, like, you know, it’s that thing like, because I didn’t know it was a thing. I just wanted to be there, you know? Yeah. And so I think, like, I think what was really important to me was the time, my university years, because I really did give it, yeah. It, I really did give,

00:18:10 Nick Breedon
really want to be there.

00:18:12 Christopher Bassi
I really want to be there. Like I would, you know, I, I, I remember being there on weekends when friends were going out and like going on holidays. And, you know, part of it was that I didn’t have any money to do like, you know, because all my friends ended up being engineers and, you know, so like, so like they’re all like finished their degree and like, you know, starting their lives as like working professionals and I was kind of back at uni and they were going on holidays overseas and I was like, actually, I’m just really going to just be with this work. But you know, I, I made some conscious decisions as well and not, and, and also the sacrifices. You know, what money I did have, I ended up getting a studio at Metro Arts in Brisbane. So that was when it was in its old building at, on Edward Street. And so that was also really crucial because, you know, I didn’t have money and whatever money I did have would go towards paying for the studio. So it was like my hangout where I would just, I was just making, like, it was like, it was like going to work. And I think I had a work ethic from. Like the design job that I had. So I just treated it like that. So I was like, okay, well, Uni is my job now. And so like, I just am gonna, go to work and paint and spend the weekends thinking about painting. And, and I just, and like, there was a really creative, nice, creative community there at Metro arts as well. It was like this funky rundown building that, you know, ultimately they had to sell because like it was the repairs were too expensive for them to, but you know, it was, it was, it was special. Like, yeah, it was really special. And then it sort of like, you know, I think that’s where I really began to understand the importance of, for me, the idea of studio practice and the idea of like it being Like a job, like not that it was making me money or anything, but yeah, that I had to treat it like work and I was lucky that I loved working, but like, you know, I’d give it that energy, you know, I’d, I’d say no to things on the weekend because I, I wanted to be in the studio and I wanted to make, and I wanted to do well and at, at university and, and just sort of like, yeah. You know, I was grateful for the time that I was at uni and I just felt like, it was important for me to just apply myself whilst I was there. And that could just be, I’m not sure where that comes from. It might come from, yeah, I’m not sure where that sort of comes from, you know, like,

00:20:46 Kiera Brew Kurec
I think something that I’ve reflect on when we’re doing these interviews is just how much everyone has this kind of innate discipline, towards their practice and wanting to practice. And it’s this drive that we all have. And I think this is just kind of what me like, what me makes you, a practicing artist that sustains it over many years is just. That there is some kind of drive.

00:21:12 Nick Breedon
Or that you enjoy doing it. Or that doing it gives you joy or purpose.

00:21:18 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah, yeah. And that you just, as Hayley said, in last season, just really love art. Yeah. When you just really love it, then it’s… You’d just

00:21:33 Christopher Bassi
like a match made in heaven.

00:21:34 Kiera Brew Kurec

00:21:34 Christopher Bassi
It just doesn’t make sense.

00:21:36 Nick Breedon
Yeah. Why would anyone do this if they didn’t get some kind of like fulfillment from it?

00:21:41 Christopher Bassi

00:21:42 Nick Breedon
It would be torture.

00:21:43 Christopher Bassi
Cause it’s actually pretty darn tough actually, but you know,

00:21:45 Kiera Brew Kurec
yeah, I think it’s that and at that time where you’re talking about where like your other friends are going off and doing other things and I reflect on that kind of really critical time as well for me where my friends were, Well, even when I was at uni and the friends that weren’t studying art, would look at you and be like, why do you spend all this time? Like your contact hours are so high, you’re in the studio all the time, don’t you want to go off and do all of these other things? Or they seem to have all of this endless time, which I was fill, filling with art. And I think that that’s a, yeah, it’s just, it’s just interesting that there seems to be this thing that just. Always pulls us back and, and gives us, it’s kind of built into, I’m, I’m not making much sense right now.

00:22:36 Nick Breedon
Like, what, what else would you do? Like, why, why do you

00:22:39 Christopher Bassi
That’s right. Yeah. Yeah.

00:22:40 Nick Breedon
Like when I’m just going out spending money, like what? Yeah, yeah, yeah. I would just want to be in the studio making.

00:22:45 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah. And I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. It makes so much sense to all of us because that that discipline is something that is kind of innate in our enjoyment of the practice. Whereas from people who, don’t kind of work in the arts, I think they, they can sometimes look in and be like, wow, like what, what, why do you guys have so much motivation to continue to do this thing?

00:23:07 Christopher Bassi
I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s like they don’t, but, but I would say that, you know, if you’re, if you decide to go down the path of, of anything that you choose to do, it would be, I mean. Maybe it’s maybe this is a bit optimistic. Like, I know that, you know, work is work for a lot of people, you know, but I would like to think that part of everyone’s journey is trying to find something that they get out of what they do. It just so happens that, you know, art is a really. You know, it’s a very, yeah, it’s a very, like I feel privileged that I’ve been able to manifest this space, but I say that word privilege kind of like loosely because like it’s been hard work, but it does sort of get this sort of like, it does feel like, oh, well you, you get to do what you love doing, but you know, it’s like, if you go and start a business or something like that, it’s. It’s hard work. It’s a hard slog. Like you just, you have to commit yourself. And I guess that’s part of my, part of my makeup as well is that I have that. I do have that, sense of, you know, I have never lost that sense of wanting stability or one or understanding that my role as a, son or a family member might eventually be, you know, like what responsibility looks like for me growing as a person and so like to take a pathway down the arts, which is, you know, fraught with, like, you know, dead ends and, you know, the unknowing, I sort of had todecide that in order to create something of myself in this space, so that I could potentially fulfill those needs of being stable. I just had to go for it and not, not and it was, it’s, it’s built on like, no second. Like

00:25:00 Kiera Brew Kurec
no plan B.

00:25:01 Christopher Bassi
No plan B.

00:25:01 Nick Breedon
Well, it’s precarity. Yeah. And I think actually I, I feel like a couple of our, our guests in the last season, you know, reflected on, on that similar, you know, desire for, you know, stability and being able to provide, and, and take care of themselves and, and also of their family and, and that they felt very much like, okay, if I’m gonna do art, I have to be. Like really good at it, not only like technically and be very proficient at my craft, but like, I have to be, I have to figure out how it works and I have to figure out how to make it work for me financially, because it’s not enough just to be successful as an artist. It, it actually has to pay my bills because I can’t, like, there’s no, there’s no one, there’s no one behind me in the shadows that’s paying for my studio or, you know, I have to, I have to just make it work.

00:25:58 Christopher Bassi
Yeah, totally. And like, I do, I do reflect on it as a, you know, that’s exactly what I was going to say, like, I was going to say, like, you know, you go through art school and like, you know, I probably went through art school, you know, my journey into creativity, like creativity as a potential career path was sort of philosophical and it did come out of like personal growth, but, and I see that a lot of people that go through university, they’re like figuring things out and offers a space to figure things out. And that is what gets you there. But then there’s this, there’s this moment where you’re like, well, I have to turn this into something like, you know, you’re confronted with the idea that you know, we have to, you know, how does it, what does it look like to, to live and sustain a creative life? Yeah. And they’re, they’re kind of questions that come to me constantly I mean, I’m, I’m just juggling that constantly. And like, I mean, this idea of success, it’s, it’s continuously changing for me, you know?

00:26:59 Kiera Brew Kurec
For sure.

00:26:59 Nick Breedon
And we’ll get, we’ll get to that in a little bit.

00:27:00 Kiera Brew Kurec
I was gonna ask like, leading on from university, what what has that looked like for you while you’ve been, you know, obviously re refiguring that out constantly and questioning and what did that journey from graduation to now look like?

00:27:16 Christopher Bassi
So I guess like to pick up where, where I was like, you know, university was incredibly important while I was in my last year of university, I guess I feel like I’m, I’m revealing a lot of myself and my own psyche, but you know, this idea of stability, again, I always talk about it, but I was, you know, I was doing, I was loving painting, I was with it, but then it got to that final semester and I was like, Oh my goodness, what am I going to do after this? And then I, I had the design background and we have a pretty unique design company here in Brisbane called UAP, Urban Art Projects, and at that time I was like, well, I’m just going to see if I can get a job here, you know, I was like, I need something that’s going to sustain me basically. And like, I want to keep practicing, but I’m at that, I’m at that critical point where, you know, lots of people were thinking about doing their honors and then going on and doing a PhD. But I just, I was 27 at that time. And it felt like, I felt like I needed to Commit some time back to earning some income, really, if I’m completely honest. So, because it just like I started there when I was 27 and stay there for about 4 years and work my way up to a design role there and that again has been critical. You know, I, I was. In the arts and art, you know, I was in the arts and that design firm was like getting to work with some of Australia’s leading contemporary artists and I got to meet them and work with them and learn about their practice. And, you know, that was, that is incredible. That was an incredible journey for me because I had a practice as well. And so, you know, some, you know, a lot of people in those businesses are just architects or designers that don’t really have a, I mean, they’re interested in the arts, but they, they might be more interested in architecture or more interested in design, but I was like really interested in art practice, you know? And so, like, I would just, like, love spending time with artists and learning about, like, what they were thinking and how they were, you know, how we might translate their ideas into something. And yeah, I did that for four years and, and then I got to a point where I was sort of, like, my practice was still, like, You know, I’m sorry, I’m talking about my sort of working, but all the while

00:29:44 Kiera Brew Kurec
it all feeds into it,

00:29:45 Christopher Bassi
it all feeds in but like, that was important part of my sort of sustainability journey. But the art practice journey was like. consistently painting every other moment, you know, so I never really went full time at UAP. I only ever worked three and maximum four days in that four years, you know, so I’d go between like working three days, four days. Yeah. And so like

00:30:07 Nick Breedon
thats the dream a three day a week job.

00:30:11 Christopher Bassi
And like, it might be, it might’ve been that, you know, because of the nature of that space as a art. adjacent design firm that understands art practice. They were actually quite supportive of me having a practice. So, you know, I could set my time like that and, I was painting every other day. So, you know, I had some incredible opportunities. We spoke about like some of my first, you know, like ARI shows, like at Stable Art Space here in Brisbane, where I think you both like came across my work for the first time. So that was like right after graduating. 2017 or 2018

00:30:48 Nick Breedon
and made a big mistake in not buying one.

00:30:55 Christopher Bassi
Well, yeah, I mean like, you know, those, like the, the Brisbane art community and spaces like that have been, have been. I just, I don’t have the words to describe how important they’ve been. Like, I just feel like, you know, they say it takes a village to raise a child. It takes a village, takes a city to raise an artist. Like I’m, I’m just doing this thing and like trying to make my the best I can do, but you’ve got an ecology of people around you, just like offering up space under their house, offering up their weekends, offering their time to write something, offering their time to take photographs. And like, it’s again, we’re just connected from the, for the love of it. But I mean, the, you know, the stable space is like. Where, where you both first sell my art where I got some, you know, image first time I got to make a large scale work and like got images taken of it and then that just like steps into the next part of your journey where you, you’re like, Oh, okay, I can paint that big. So I’ll make another one. And, you know, that steps into the next and like from, from graduation. And like to this day, it’s been, it has been like grassroots, like, you know, leaning on each other sort of situation. And as I sort of grow as an artist, I become more reflective of that. And also start to think about my responsibility as well in that space.

00:32:19 Christopher Bassi But yeah, so like I was working and painting and then I, you know, just before COVID, I decided to take a break from UAP and like focus a bit more on my practice. And while I was doing that, I, I’m friends, you know, I was, I was friends with Troy and Amanda, Troy Casey and Amanda Hayman from Blacklash. So Blacklash is a first nations curatorial team, based here in Brisbane. And I, had been sort of aware, you know, we’ve sort of worked together, in, in sort of small capacities and they were doing amazing things. So like just at the cusp of curating the ProppaNOW show at UQ. And I, you know, they had some pretty incredible programs. One was called Black Curatorial, where it was like they would, take on a few First Nations art graduates or like sort of emerging, workers and artists to offer create, to offer curatorial, a curatorial project. Now this curatorial project was like, it was a three week program and the curatorial project was like, Like, I got to curate a collection show at the University of Sunshine Coast. Like, it was huge. I know. Yeah. So, it was like, I’d never done that before. Yeah. And like, and so, like, they had this incredible collection of, artists. Mainly from Central Desert Region, but, I got to sort of spend Central Desert Region, Kimberley’s and some from, Northern Territory, but like, I got to sort of create a show from this and it was a university show and, yeah, you know, it was incredible opportunity. It gave me some skills in curation and also just a sense of confidence in my own voice and my own sort of thinking in and around a practice and, and, and it was this, I guess what I’m trying to talk about is the building of a creative life. And so the way that, like you have an art practice, but you can do all these other things. You can be designer, you can have a curatorial practice, and it can be, they all feed into each other in a way.

00:34:35 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah, yeah, for sure.

00:34:37 Christopher Bassi
Yeah. Yeah, like, I mean, I think that every decision that I’ve made is about building on this, this internal fire of you know, creating and connecting and, and with people, you know, if that sort of makes sense, like, you know, I feel like art’s a great connector.

00:34:55 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah. And they’re all really transfer, like transferable skills. As artists, we have skills that can be applied to so many different areas. And, you know, some of the best curators are artists also because they have an approach that is so aware of the artist process, in a way that other curators aren’t, not to say that, you know, one’s better than the other, really important, things that can be applied in so many different areas. I mean, and not even in the arts as well. And I think sometimes we don’t realize how, how many skills we actually have.

00:35:33 Christopher Bassi
I, I cannot agree more. I think, I think that artists are incredibly powerful. And I think like we, like it comes from, you know, it comes from me growing in this space and like I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on art practice in like the commercial world and like in the sort of like, design world, which is a little bit more like dealing with clients. And, you know, lots of artists don’t have that opportunity to think about how practice, you know, what their potential is or what, what it means, what they have to offer. And I think that I’ve, you know, I’m such an advocate for, I think artists are so powerful. They’re so creative and so thoughtful. They, they have everything they need, you know? And like my, my sort of thinking is like how to, you know, I’m starting to think about like how do artists sort of collectivize and that sort of brings me to my next stage of my, my, creative practices. You know, painting is going along and I’m just continuously painting and then, I get, I got approached by, Yavuz Gallery.

00:36:49 Christopher Bassi And so that’s the gallery that I am represented by in Sydney. And you know, that was a really slow process actually. I think, you know, I’m a really slow thinker and I didn’t really have. You know, the idea of me having these other jobs is also to sort of not put pressure on my art practice and to not, not really make not really have me make decisions in haste or out of like, you know, I didn’t want to, I think, out of pressure. Yeah. And I had sort of some, some gallerists like reach out, by, you know, in lots of different ways, but I think I’m Quite an intuitive person. And, you know, the, the process of joining the gallery that I’m with at the moment was like over a year long of like conversations and like, you know, some people just ring up and say, Oh, do you want to show with me? And like, it’s just a real, you’re kind of like, what, what is that like? But this was like, you know, we were having conversations and like, it was just really thoughtful and long, I think because I’m a really slow thinker and like that slowness was like really appreciative and I just. And I also have like, like, you know, my thinking is is in North is in Queensland, going upwards into the Torres Strait, thinking about oceans as like connected bodies. And like, I also had like, you know, growing up, my father actually worked in Singapore, and I had like a relationship with Singapore and Indonesia growing up and it just felt like I just felt like the universe was a bit aligned in the way that that gallery had positioned itself and it offered me a space to think about Australian, australia and conversations in Australia, a bit more like a bit more in Southeast Asia, like, you know, sort of locate ourselves geographically and like own that. So, yeah, so that felt right. And that was sort of moving. And then while that’s, well, that’s happening I’m also, I ended up starting my own design practice as well, which is, something that I’ve been working on the last year, called dialogue office and it’s sort of a, an embodiment of, art practice and also, Sort of curation and, public like, like industrial design, like in the way that I was working at UAP. So that’s my, that’s kind of like, I’m starting to try to build a sustainable creative life, you know, because I just, I mean, just because you signed with the gallery doesn’t mean that you doesn’t mean that you’re, it’s like, you know, it’s a sustainable life. You still have to go through the motions of, you know, it’s a long journey. Like someone, you know, so many people have. You know, my, my lecturers and my sort of like, people I look up to in Brisbane, you know, they, they say, you know, you, you’re to paint is like, you have, I have to paint. So it’s like, I’m gonna have to do this all the time, , and like, you know what I mean? Like that’s how I, that’s how I am in the world. That’s how I make sense of the world. And so to not paint is to just not engage. And I just don’t, don’t do that. So, so if I am with the gallery or with, or paintings are selling I’m in my garage by myself and no one knows about me, I still paint. So it’s like, so it’s like I paint and I’m just going to figure out a life around how I just keep painting.

00:40:23 Kiera Brew Kurec
So maybe with that in mind, we can, move on to the next question, which is, what are some of the challenges that you have had to overcome to continue your practice.

00:40:38 Christopher Bassi
Yeah, I think, I think I sort of touched on them, but it is, it’s a question of how one sustains a creative life. And it’s like, I think we’re set up, you know, I think, you know, there’s lots of I don’t know. I don’t know how the creative, the creative fields are valued. I’ve seen politically it go through the ebbs and flows, you know, changes with political cycles, how people feel about the arts and how much funding has been put to it. And it’s like a really uncomfortable way of living sometimes, you know, you feel like undervalued. You feel like, like, you know, again, I sort of made a comment about people saying like, oh, well you get to do what you love and that’s like, you know, you’re lucky to do that or something. And it’s like, no, like, you know, the, the arts and the creative industries offer so much to, to our existence, you know, as, as, as people that they just,

00:41:43 Nick Breedon
and the economy, I think people as well that like, I think, apparently the arts is, it actually adds more to the economy than sport in Australia and people don’t, they don’t acknowledge that at all. They think that we should just be happy to be able to participate. And it’s like, no, we’re actually creating value for other people. We’re just not being, like compensated for that, for that labor.

00:42:06 Christopher Bassi
And it, and it’s a cultural, it’s just a cultural lens through which art’s viewed, you know, and like, but like, I, I, I’ve, you know, I felt that, you know, we feel that as we go through that, that feeling of not being valued, but, you know, it’s just, I just couldn’t think of anything more valuable and I, and I I agree, Nick, and it’s true that it’s, it’s a combination of how we, connect, like, you know, what we can offer each other just through dialogue, but also just very realistically and economic outcomes and, you know, creating industries and creating new. You know, use like, you know, creative thinking is, is important in every aspect of life, you know, in every, they should have like, you know, jobs in every industry where someone can just like think abstractly about the future of things, you know what I mean?

00:43:01 Nick Breedon
I can’t even remember, someone was telling me the other day that apparently in every industry employers value creativity higher than their workers. You know, so their workers, you know, they think maybe at the end of their degree that creativity is really important, but then when they’ve been working a couple of years, they don’t think creativity is important, but their employers are all saying, no, we really value creativity in our workers. So there’s a weird kind of disconnect there. So that’s kind of interesting.

00:43:31 Christopher Bassi
And I guess like, so, you know, it was, it’s been a matter of like juggling those kinds of outside perceptions, which, you know, I feel like, I feel like I don’t feel like that too much now, but, but growing up, you know, growing up as an artist, you do feel those pressures. Now I feel a little bit more confident in my self and what I, you know, what I have, like to what my dreams are and aspirations are, but that’s come through, that’s come through, you know, time and, also like, you know, creating a space where I can sort of advocate a little bit more, of, you know, like creating a design practice to say actually artists can do their own stuff and, you know, we are powerful and, But yeah, I think like, you know, the realities of life of like, you know, just paying bills and like, just like, you know, having steady income and planning for the future and like doing all those sort of normal things that people want to do as well, like have a house or, you know, rent comfortably or, you know, have a family, you know, like, I think that I have all those dreams as well.

And I feel like. Yeah, I, I feel like it’s, it’s been challenging and everything’s, you know, there’s only 24 hours in a day and like, there’s always sacrifices. And so I have, you know, I just think about my personal life, even like, like even just like relationships and , like finding a partner and things like that. Like, it’s like, I’ve been working and painting and, you know, when you, when you’re. Working pretty much full time in whatever, like, you know, four days a week and then painting the other three days. It’s like, what? That’s your life, you know? Yeah. Yeah.

00:45:20 Nick Breedon
Yeah. You’re not, you’re not really, I think, one of our, very first guests, I think in season one, Sybil Kempson, had this great analogy of the, it’s like a stove, like a four burner stove. And basically you can only have three on at any one time. And it’s like your family. Like your relationship, like a, you know, like a romantic relationship, it’s like your health and then like your artistic practice and you can like only have three like on at any one time. So you kind of got to like keep rotating them around or, or one of them, you’re going to just like completely, you know, neglect for a really long time. And that does, I mean, I, I trick myself sometimes into thinking that I’ve got it all going at the same time. And then I realized, no, I haven’t actually been to the gym in like, you know, 12 weeks.

00:46:09 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah, I think one of them was health.

00:46:10 Christopher Bassi
Can I, can I tell you, mine’s like, I’m trying to eat healthy at the moment. And like, I just, my, I just want a donut with my coffee. Like, honestly, like, I don’t, I don’t want much, you know, but it’s like the donut. That’s like, that’s like, you know, and I just feel so ridiculous. Like, cause I’m like spinning so many plates and I think the, the stove analogy is perfect as well. And, you know, I do reflect on a lot of my friends as well as in the arts and as artists, like art practice is, it’s just something that it takes up a full burner. And, and it’s like lots of people, you know, like lots of people have family and then a job and then they’re, they’re two plates, but then to introduce the art practice into that as well. I mean, that’s just as demanding as the other two. I mean, like they’re different in terms of like, they’re all different, but like. You know, if you’re really, if you’re really trying to do something with, with your art practice or, you know, you’re trying to keep that flame going and the pot burning as well. And, and in so many ways you kind of have to, in so many ways, like, you know, the, the industry is such that you have to kind of like present yourself. Like even today, I think about myself, like I’m presenting myself as like a. as a practicing artist, I put my, I’m doing quotations, but like a practicing artist, you know, whatever that might be, because I might have a gallery or something like that, but, you know, I have to have a job, you know, and I have to, you know, I have to you know, take time for family and it’s like, but at the same time, the workload for that is still like hectic, like it takes ages to paint a painting and like all these, the shows like that I’m having opportunities to be in, they’re like the shows that you dream about. So I, I have to do them, you know, like internally I have to do them, you know,

00:48:06 Nick Breedon
and you can’t, you can’t really, you can, you know, you get offered to be in one of those, gigantic sort of institutional shows. It’s like, you can’t sort of. Send it in, you know, you, you have to really like, those are the ones that you really have to dedicate. Like, you know, you’re getting this opportunity to, yeah, like to really like, you know, do something that challenges you as an, as an artist, like you get to get fulfillment in, in trying something really ambitious in those times. So you can’t, you kind of end up with this double edged sword where you’re like. I have the opportunity to do something really like amazing that like, I feel really proud of, but then you’re like, but I’m not, you know, I don’t have really the budget to do it. And also it’s affecting my health and like, now I need the doughnut.

00:48:52 Christopher Bassi
Exactly. But I’m trying not to eat the doughnut and then, you know, and that’s stressing me out even more. But so true. I mean, I think that’s exactly, you’ve, you’ve nailed it there that, you know, these opportunities come and like, you know, they’re a culmination of years and years of trying to do something. And like, they’re not like, you know, they’re not everything like, you know, they really aren’t. And like, you can live, you can have fulfilling practice lives without them. But when they do, when you do also lucky to have the opportunity to come your way, you know, you, you are also treating it like a business and like, you know, you want your art practice to continuely grow and like, this is an opportunity to sort of have a stage to say something, you know,

00:49:34 Nick Breedon
sorry to cut you off, but just back to what you were saying before about, you know, Reflecting on what, what you want your life to be and what you want to make of the story of your life. And quite often those things, they do, they do become these, these milestones, you know, when you look back on your life and your career. And I think that’s one of the interesting things about being an artist too, is that like. You know, so much of what we do is really, really hard, but then, you know, like what a life to have, what a life that we can get to have, you know, which is, which is really amazing and special. And some of those, some of those big shows and stuff, like, you know, you just look back on them a couple of years out and you go, wow, that, that really was like, it was a lot of hard work and, and, um. You know, it was really, it was worth it, you know,

00:50:25 Christopher Bassi
it was fulfilling

00:50:26 Nick Breedon
and, and, and those are the things that we’ve together to kind of make these, these stories that our lives become, you know, so that they are, you know, they’re important, they’re amazing, but yeah, fuck.

00:50:36 Christopher Bassi
Yeah. I feel ya. I feel ya. Yeah. I know. But like, I mean, it also comes back to that, you know, it comes back to that moment. You know, I mentioned the passing of my father, but you know, it was a tipping point. It was like, if we only live once, you know, for me, you know, it’s that kind of acknowledgement that we’re only here for a moment. And like, if I wanted to spend my life doing something, what would that be? And, and then, so I was sort of, it does come through that, that sense, you know, of we’re in this, we’re in this together and I want to be able to contribute. This in this way, and I would love to make a life out of it. And so my journey has just been trying to figure out how to make a life out of it. Yeah.

00:51:24 Nick Breedon
Well, that sounds like a really good place to move on to the next question. And I think, I think it’s a, a really a good one for this moment, which is, what does a successful practice mean to you?

00:51:37 Christopher Bassi
A successful practice is continuously, the idea of a successful practice is continuously changing for me. I don’t have any sort of fixed point or fixed point of reference. I mean, I have, I have sort of older artists or artists that are more senior than me that I look to. And, you know, you might think that being in particular shows the measures of success. But, um or making a particular project that you really want to make as a measure of success. But I feel like what I’m actually finding out about myself is that the most, the most meaningful parts of this whole thing are the times that I get to spend with people and the new friends and, you know, just the new people that I get to meet. And I, you know, I think it’s sort of what you were touching on Nick just prior to this question that, you know, it’s, Yeah, I think, you know, these big, there are these institutional shows, which are incredibly, you know, I’m very grateful to be a part of some of them, but like I find myself in the times before the show opens or like in the lead up on zoom chats with the other artists, my most enjoyable, you know, like the times that we just got to hang out and just joke and like we get to enjoy each other’s company and enjoy being in the show just privately. And, yeah, I feel like that’s special because, you know, I’ve made so many new friends, like I’ve, you know, I’m, like I said, I’m from, I’m from Brisbane and like I’ve grown up here and I sort of, I remember going into the IMA all those years ago when I was just starting art college and not knowing anyone and feeling like a bit of an outsider, but you know, feeling comfortable, but just. You know, it started from there, like this, this wanting to just hear people’s stories and learn about people and like, just make friends really. And like, that’s sort of just been like the best part of this whole thing is that like each opportunity comes with it the opportunity, like the chance to meet new people. to share a creative life and to be on a journey with people that you love and care about. And, and, I think that that’s sort of like the measures of success for me. It’s just like those moments, you know, like, and again, it’s such a fluid space and, but it’s not like, you know, it can’t be attached to a work or, a show for me, it has to be in the, in what it means to, be on the journey so to speak.

00:54:17 Nick Breedon
Yeah. Yeah. I guess like that’s the, you know, those milestones are fleeting, and we get to, you know, they get to live in our memories, but, like our practice that we turn up and do every day or, you know, as often as we can, the, you know, those friendships and those relationships are the things that are also enduring. As part of, you know, our careers and our practices as artists.

00:54:40 Kiera Brew Kurec
For sure. Would you be able to give us a run through of what, a day in the studio looks like for you? If you do anything beforehand to,

00:54:50 Nick Breedon
the doughnut,

00:54:52 Kiera Brew Kurec
give us all that.

00:54:53 Nick Breedon
I might be really hungry. I keep returning to the doughnut.

00:54:55 Christopher Bassi
You know what I mean, right? I mean, like, I’m just not, it’s just like, you know, I try to do so many, try to do so many things. I just feel like,

00:55:04 Nick Breedon
why would you deny yourself that pleasure?

00:55:07 Christopher Bassi
I know. But it’s like the doughnut that’s like, you know, I’ve just watched myself, you know. You know, you get caught up and you neglect your health or something like that. You’re like, Oh, I should just like give myself some space not to eat a donut, but I really just want to eat it. But I guess like the, the, what does my practice look like? I mean, well, I have like, when I start, I’m starting to talk about my practice more holistically to include like the design office and also painting because they are sort of like what it means to lead a creative life at the moment. So like I do spend, I do spend about 50%, 50, 50 time between the two. So I have a space in, West end that, I’ve taken on to as a kind of, you know, it’s a, it’s a kind of non space as a moment. It’s just like this big empty room, but like, I’ve sort of like, I’m working out of it design wise, but I’m trying to figure out like what to do with it as well. Like offer it as a, you may be like a first nations, maker space or, like just like a think space or so it’s like in the building blocks, but I sort of spend most of my time there. And then I, I paint underneath my house, but I’m in the process of actually moving the studio, the painting studio to that maker space. So, it might be in the right place. Cause I feel like I’m the kind of person where, I’m not like, you know, you know, I I think painting takes a lot of energy out of me in a good way. I think it’s like a hyper focused, moment where I just give myself over to a process and I really thoroughly enjoy the process of making. So I have to block out time for that. I found myself this year a little bit, overextended in, I feel like I’m at an interesting place, like time in my practice where, you know, I’ve had these show opportunities that I would have always loved to been in, but they’re all happened in the one year, which I would have loved to space out over three years or something like that.

00:57:19 Nick Breedon
it rains it pours

00:57:20 Christopher Bassi
Yeah. So it’s a bit like that. So I’m just like acknowledging the sort of like the, you know, and that takes a toll on your well\ being as well and you like your sort of physical and mental ability to create because I’m not like a creative machine, you know, like, it takes time for me to think about things and so, you know, at this year really just been moving from project to project, but, you know, I do block out. I’m pretty organized and like that comes from that. Maybe that the design and the sort of workflow that I’ve had experience with where I can block out times of studio space and then I’m quite, I’m quite practical in the, in the studio, in the making process. So there’s a lot of lead up before I actually like make a painting, like I’ll take research, like I might go somewhere and like take photographs of particular things that I’m interested in or, you know, stories or, you know, just sort of spending time with ideas. And then like, you know, that gets, there’s a time then that gets transformed into images, reference images, and, you know, photoshopping and getting things ready. And then, like, once I’m ready to, like, make a painting, then it’s like, alright, it’s like an action. Like, I have to block out time to, like, be with it. And, it gets quite, like, you know, I can’t stop thinking about it. So I have to, like… treat it like a project and treat it like, okay, well, you know, even like the design work that I have happening around it, I have to be like, Oh, well this next month I can’t take on any projects because I’ve got to do a painting this whole month. You know what I mean? So, so I have to like have my head clear. But yeah,

00:58:59 Nick Breedon
what does that, like you said, you kind of splitting it 50, 50, does that, is that sort of look like morning afternoon or is that like kind of different days?

00:59:07 Christopher Bassi
It’s different days. So it’s like full days in the design studio and then full days in the, painting mindset because just, just in terms of like, I’ve found that I have to do it like that because the design the design, job has like competing, like you have to like talk to clients and like talk to like, you know, people that want stuff, you know what I mean? So like the painting practice also has that, but you know, I might set aside a day to just like do some admin in that space and like do some digital like artwork or do some digital design work and then, you know, the paintings, the painting is my space, you know, that’s where like I get to think through and like, you know, even thinking about the type of work that I do, it’s quite personal work and, and again, it’s it’s grounded in love, a love of painting. And so the time that I spent with, like, I get frustrated. Actually, I get really frustrated when I have to rush a painting. And like, that’s the sort of like thing that I have come up against this year when I sort of overextend myself. Yeah. That like, I end up making work that I feel a bit agitated around because like, I’m really trying to make something that makes me feel How I want to feel about particular things. And they’re like technical things, like how I’ve placed a piece of like how I placed like a line of paint on a canvas or something like that. You know, so like there are things that like audiences don’t really need to need or might know about, but as a painter, like, you know, I’m constantly looking at artworks and be like, I want to be able to make that mark or do something like that.

01:00:51 Nick Breedon
Yeah. And you can’t resolve a painting faster than it can be, you know, just needs to be resolved in its time.

01:00:58 Christopher Bassi

01:00:59 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah. Exactly. And I think that’s something that is, you know, for people across most practices in the arts is like, like you said, it might not be visible by the audience, but you know what you are trying to achieve and when, it’s the most frustrating is you’re exactly right when it’s just the time period. Like it’s, you know, cause when it’s your skills or whatever, you know that you can improve on it. That, that is frustrating, but you know that you’re growing in that process. But when, when it’s just a matter of time, that is so frustrating because you just, you know what you’re capable of and you want to put that forth, but those constraints are limiting.

01:01:44 Christopher Bassi
I know that’s so true. I mean, that’s exactly the feeling like it’s like. And it’s a, it’s like a weird internalized frustration. I, you know, I, I get a bit, it’s like anxiety, but it’s also all these other mixes. Like, I’m just like, you know, you, you want to do the best that you possibly can, not just for like the opportunity, but just because like, I’m on this journey with the medium you know, like I love, I love painting. And so it’s like, you know, and so like, I want to do it for myself. I want to have, build my relationship with it and, and so, yeah, I guess that’s sort of, you know, time’s always, but time is something that we have to. We’re always, you know, there’s never enough time, you know, you know, so it’s about, yeah.

01:02:26 Kiera Brew Kurec
Do you have any, processes or anything that you do, like after you’ve completed a large work or after, you know, completing a large body of work, like you said, you’ve been in some really big shows this year, to kind of balance out on the kind of post production side or post side, just to kind of like, you know, re nourish yourself or your, or your practice or anything,

01:02:51 Nick Breedon
or a palate cleanser or anything

01:02:57 Christopher Bassi
Totally. I mean, I think if I’m honest, like there’s so many different, like there’s so many different streams of the art world, you know, there’s like the art world that, you know, like that you, you, your friends might be, you know, like, you know, art world, friends go from all different strains, but like, I think there’s a type of intensity that those sort of larger shows where I’m often like, you know, there’s a variety of people there and like different crowds of people that, you know, sometimes I’m not really, I wouldn’t. You know, I don’t really, feel like I belong to, and that’s not, that’s not anything negative. It’s just like, I think it takes a lot out of me. Just in my sort of like, just like being in those spaces. And I think a lot of it does to a lot of artists. I think we’re asked, we’re asked to, you know, we’re asked to be able to stay alone for like 10 hours, 11 hours a day and paint paint or make constantly for years in isolation, but then have to like go out into these really big world events with like people from like all different areas, you know? Yeah. And it’s like. You know, it’s that dance. It’s like, oh, like it’s, you know, you, you have to, and one of like, you know,

01:04:08 Nick Breedon
I love that. Like, you’ve been in the studio for like eight hours and you go to an opening straight after.

01:04:14 Christopher Bassi
I know.

01:04:14 Nick Breedon
And everyone’s like, how you been? What’s been up? And you’re just like, yeah, I got, and like social anxiety.

01:04:20 Christopher Bassi
Yeah. That’s the thing. . Know. But, but I think, like, you know, one of my, one of my, sort of. One of the senior artists here in town is really, I’ll say, you know, Judy, Judy Watson’s an incredible, artist that, you know, a lot of us up and coming artists have in our orbit or have access to. And I’m so incredibly lucky to have people like her around because they sort of like teach you how They teach you what it’s like to be an artist. And like, you know, the making, you know, when you go through art school, you do think that the making is all you have to do, but actually it is about the artist talk and the artist workshop and the conversation and like going to these events and saying yes to things that like you not really used to because like it’s a part of that whole experience and like, I’ve been lucky to see that in a lot of the, like, in some of these senior artists in town and say like, okay, like, I understand that they actually don’t, they probably don’t like it either, but like, it’s part of the role and like, it’s, it’s that questioning of like, what is the role of the artist and it can be all these things, you know, so I feel like I’ve tried to make space for it, but yeah. You know, in terms of like a palate cleanser, it’s incredibly necessary for me to find, you know, if I have to go and do this stuff and like put myself in these spaces that I feel a little bit uncomfortable, just, just because of the nature of who I am and how I am in the world, then I need ways of like re centering. Yeah. That might look like, just. You know, going down the coast for a few days or like, you know, in between Sydney trips, me and my partner went up to, Batjala country Harvey Bay and like spent some time in the mangroves up there, which is going to be part of a new work that I’m working on. But like, that was incredibly. Oh, it’s just like I can just breathe again. Like even just thinking about it, like it’s like these intense trips back and forth. And then like having a moment where it’s just like, all right, let’s just go like walk in the mangroves and, you know, like reconnect and like, that’s actually really important and like there’s moments like that. And it’s also just like having catch up with friends and read like grounding yourself because it can get a bit, it’s, it’s crazy out there.

01:06:42 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah, for sure.

01:06:45 Nick Breedon
So, can you tell us, any kind of practical resources that have been really valuable for you throughout your career?

01:06:52 Christopher Bassi
Sure. I, I am going to answer this as, as a painter, I think, I think, you know, I mean, I don’t have like any real specific books. I mean, I can talk about some of the things I’m reading at the moment, but like, you know, I, for me, I’m, I’m really interested in a particular type of painting. And for me, it’s about having access to those types of works, which like we don’t always have access to particularly in Brisbane, but, you know, to look at an oil painting from Manet or or something like if I’m trying to figure something out, I think like the internet has been an incredible resource and like accessing like high quality photographs of works through institutions. So like if you’re a painter and you’re listening to this and you’re like, how do I like, really high res image of a Manet, because like, for me, it’s not about like looking at the painting. It’s about like looking at the painting, like clicking right in and being like, Oh, so that’s where they’ve decided to go thin in paint. And then, because, because I’m a bit of a, like, you know, you go through art school and they teach you about painting, but like no one really teaches you like how to, how to paint, figure out how to construct a painting. And so like, it’s, you know, that process is, I’m a bit of an auto didact in that way, in that like, I’ve just spent time thinking and looking at works. And so like, you know, the Met Museum the Prado, the Rijksmuseum the Netherlands site, like they all have, like, you can download like super high res quality images for free. And so like, I mean, that’s a place where I started because like, they were like, it’s about construction. It’s about like, how do I, you know, if you need to figure out how to build something, you want to like look under it and like, look in, like look into it and like, you know, try to figure it out, you know, like a piece of furniture or something you need to see where those joins what’s happening.

01:08:57 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah, I think that’s always like when I’m in a gallery, especially like, you know, a major museum with these very expensive collections, and there’s kind of the two crowds of people that get too close to works and it’s either people that like, don’t really understand the value of the work that are just like, Oh wow, like amazing and get really close or it’s artists who are getting so, So close. Cause they’re like

01:09:20 Nick Breedon
one inch away from the surface of the work

01:09:23 Kiera Brew Kurec
.And they’re just like, how does this work pulling it apart in their brains?

01:09:28 Christopher Bassi
It’s so true. It’s like, I mean, exactly. You can see the artists in the room because they’re like right up, like looking at the side of the canvas and everything like, yeah, but I guess like, you know, that’s the kind of sort of thing that I’d say to people listening that might want to figure out

01:09:46 Kiera Brew Kurec
that’s a great resource. Thank you for,

01:09:47 Christopher Bassi
you know, they are. And, and, and also just like books and like, I mean, I, I mentioned the internet first, cause it’s free, but you know, when you get that, the opportunity, I , one of my passions, I say passions, especially where to put it, but like, I love driving, you know, when I drive to these little towns, like I got to Harvey Bay or, you know, I might drive through, like, I think I was in Grafton not long ago, but I want to stop at this, like anytime there’s like a little secondhand bookshop, like I go there and sometimes you find the gems, sometimes you find the gems of like, you know, like these, these like sort of, what are they called? Like monograph books of Like painters or like someone’s bought like an art book and so there’s all these like art books that cost like, you know, $150 that like they’re for $30, you know, so I’m actually like looking at my table and there’s like a Velasquez, there’s like a Baroque painting, a Goya, and they’re all like thick, really thick books, but I’ve just like picked them up and I have like all the images of the artists like you know, or like, you know, it doesn’t have to be like, you know, I’m sort of specifically talking about a type of Western tradition of painting, but in whatever, you know, respect that you might be working, there’s often some hidden gems in there. So like looking at bookshops and, and just like, you know, I often read. You know, I, I find myself reading more and more poetry these days, like as it’s sort of, in a way I feel like it relates to the way that I think about painting. And so, yeah, I just, I feel like books are an incredible, resource as well. And like, you can get that through the library and, just, again, this is me, me, talking specifically to my practice, but I think, you know, there are resources out there that are accessible, like just start at your local library, start at your local secondhand bookstore, start on the internet, and then if you’re trying to figure out something you can do it like that.

01:11:46 Kiera Brew Kurec
And to kind of round out this, chat for today, if you could go back in time and offer yourself, some advice and this could be at any point in time, like before you went into uni or, maybe even when you were going into the first design job, and we’re thinking

01:12:11 Nick Breedon
When you were an engineer Yeah.

01:12:13 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah. And And thinking about having an arts practice, what, what advice would you give yourself?

01:12:22 Christopher Bassi
I, I thought about this question. I don’t really have a, a straight and narrow answer because I, when I reflect on my life and I hope it sort of comes through in, in this yarn that we’ve had is that like one thing has sort of led to the next and like I, I have, you know, through, throughout all the decisions I’ve made, I’ve had, I’ve had a dream, you know, I, I’ve never stopped dreaming about something and the decisions that I’ve made are sort of like all focused towards this one idea of, of a creative life. But, you know, I feel like I’m, I don’t know whether I’d be where I am today if I didn’t. You know, just have that goal, like, but make all the decisions, all these sort of micro decisions that have led me to this particular place. So I don’t know if there’d be like a point, I don’t know if there would be, like, I don’t think that I could say something to myself to like change that, trajectory. I think I would just say that if I, if you’re serious about this. Think about like, trust your gut, trust your intuition. I think that’s been my, for me, that’s been the most useful tool. And that’s not just about like this long journey, but it’s also like, when things feel uncomfortable or you feel like you’re a part of something that you shouldn’t be, or like and I know, like, my gut has always told me that, like, this doesn’t feel right. Then, you know, and then it ends up not being right. So I guess, like, I would just say to myself that, to just trust your intuition. And to follow it to some respect. But not blindly, like, follow it. Like I followed it pretty pragmatically, but it’s always been there. And I think it’s sort of guided me because I have these values that are attached to me and what I sort of dream of. And, you know, I think as long as you’re true to yourself in that way, you end up, you end up getting to where you want to be. I hope that’s okay.

01:14:37 Kiera Brew Kurec
That’s so good. Thank you so much for spending your time with us today and sharing all of this. It’s just been so wonderful.

01:14:47 Christopher Bassi
Thank you for having me. It’s been so lovely. And like, you know, again, it’s like reflecting on projects like this and how important they are. Hopefully, you know, maybe this story might resonate with someone and just help them along their own journey.

01:15:01 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah, I’m sure it will because it has with both of us, so thank you.

01:15:04 Nick Breedon

01:15:07 This episode was recorded on the lands of the Bidjigal and Gadigal of the Eora nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded. And we extend that acknowledgement to the lands on which this podcast reaches you on today.

01:15:23 Kiera Brew Kurec
This season of ProPrac was funded by Creative Australia.

01:15:27 Our music is created by Evelyn Ida Morris.

01:15:30 Nick Breedon
Thanks for listening to Pro Prac. You can find us on Instagram @propracpodcast or reach out to us at We would really appreciate if you could take a moment to rate and review us. As it helps others find Pro Prac and it assists in our funding applications.

01:15:46 Kiera Brew Kurec
Also, consider sharing this episode with a friend.