Season Four – Jake Preval

Image credit: Jake Preval

Jake Preval

Season 4 – Episode 3


Book: Seven days in the art world

Instagram handle @jakepreval


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
Jake Praval is a New Zealand artist living and working in Naarm, Melbourne. He completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2014 and a Master of Fine Arts in 2021, both at Victorian College of the Arts. Jake has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including Spring 1883 with Sarah Scout Presents, Sport at Connor’s Connors, and Slow Trade at Warrnambool Art Gallery. He has participated in performance works in Australia and New Zealand, and recently won a Green Room Award for Best Visual Design for the work Sick, created with Philip Adams Ballet Lab. In 2021, Jake was the recipient of the Lionel Gell Award and has been selected as a finalist in numerous prizes including the Woollahra Small Sculpture Award, Ballet Lab McMahon Contemporary Art Award, the Keith and Elizabeth Murdoch Traveling Fellowship and the John Fries Award. Jake’s work is held in private collections across Australia and New Zealand and in the Union Art Collection, University of Melbourne. Jake is represented by Sarah Scout Presents in Melbourne.

00:01:16 Kiera Brew Kurec
Jake, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast and coming back for. And we’d love for you to start from the beginning in letting us know how you got to where you are today.

00:01:30 Jake Preval
Oh, well, firstly, thank you for having me back. The last time we met was, as previously discussed, a little hectic. So apologies if I was, you know, literally melting down the phone, but, uh, things are much calmer now.

00:01:44 Kiera Brew Kurec
Good to hear.

00:01:46 Jake Preval
Okay. What was? Where did it all start? Who am I?

00:01:48 Kiera Brew Kurec

00:01:51 Jake Preval
I grew up in New Zealand, and I moved to, I didn’t move to Australia until 2009. And I, yeah, I came from a, a very creative family, I guess. Yeah, I guess I should preface that. I don’t know, maybe I shouldn’t. My Mum died at the start of this year, and that is like, has really it’s been a big thing for me, obviously, so I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on family and the genesis of, of who and how I am. And I think a lot of it is, is based on her. She’s a very creative person and the whole family was very creative. So I think, yeah, like that is really the beginning of it all, you know, like we would do, we would go see shows. I remember going to see, like the ballet, seeing Douglas Wright. Do you know the dancer Douglas Wright? Love, love, love seeing him perform in Petrushka as like a six year old and just having my mind blown, but like that, you know, that the art was really given a lot of space and time and value in our family.

00:02:58 Kiera Brew Kurec

00:02:58 Jake Preval
So that was, that was really great. And also, my older brother Felix used to, he studied theater and I was still living at home, but he’d come home on the weekends and we’d just get super stoned and watch lots of, avant garde film, like Spunkmyer and Kenneth Anger. I had like a very, it was a very fertile creative ground, I guess is what I’m trying to say. Uh, in Wellington, in New Zealand. in a little village called Tawa, just outside of Wellington, which felt incredibly claustrophobic growing up. But now I return and I’m like, oh my God, it’s literally 20 minutes on a train. What are you even talking about? But you know, that kind of insulatine feeling is so real.

00:03:44 Nick Breedon
Yeah. No internet.

00:03:45 Jake Preval
Um. There was no, well,

00:03:48 Nick Breedon
there was less internet or the internet was a different thing than it is now.

00:03:53 Jake Preval
Yes, it was. Oh my God. A lot of fights with my sister, you know, who was using the phone or the internet. I feel, I actually feel very lucky that we didn’t have the internet and it’s full swing when I was a teenager. I think it might’ve ruined me. Or maybe it’s maybe antiquated and really old. I don’t know. I sometimes feel like a technological Luddite and is it because I don’t know. Oh God. Anyway, what was the question? Where did I come from? What do I do?

00:04:24 Nick Breedon
How did you get to where you are today?

00:04:25 Jake Preval
How did I get to where I am? Uh, grew up in Wellington. I actually started doing a theatre degree. in, in Wellington, which I did a whole year of before I dropped out, because I didn’t really like it. And I met two other women doing a theatre show as an actor, and we formed a theatre company together. It was sort of like a dance, a dance performance, company called Baby Shads. So I was like, you know what? Fuck you, university. I’m just going to do it on my own. And so we did and we made work together for three and a half years, which actually was really, I look back on some of the work. I’m like, you know, maybe it wasn’t like the most refined, but it was a really, uh, intense period of creative output. We made, I think, four, four shows, maybe. And it was. I think it was really, it gave me a lot of confidence to just put things out there, you know, like it was, they were, they’re two excellent women and we just, I don’t know, making shows for in Wellington, which was a really great time. They were all like, I guess, themes that recur throughout my work, they’re all like absurdist, kind of comedic, social commentary. I mean, they were dance heavy works, which dance is like my secret love that I am slowly returning to throughout my practice, dancing and performance. Um. Which is a kind of nice, uh, sort of bookend to my current work. But yeah, anyway, but eventually we, I don’t know, we, Wellington is small. It’s a really great city, but we had, we just hit a ceiling, I guess. You know, we were, there’s only one independent theatre that we were able to produce and show work at, and there weren’t any real avenues for, you know, or we weren’t able to see the avenues, to take the work any further. So we’re all like, all right, well, let’s just go away and we’ll spend a couple of years elsewhere and then we’ll come back together and we’ll get the group happening again, which obviously never happened.

00:06:46 Nick Breedon
If you’re 30 and I’m 30 and we’re not married yet, maybe.

00:06:52 Jake Preval
And it was like a really deep, creative romance. These two women, Sherralee and Milo, like we really, it was a beautiful energy between us. But no, we all fled the country and never came back. I dropped into Melbourne, uh, and I was just going to stop and visit some friends on my way to the Europe.

00:07:15 Nick Breedon

00:07:15 Jake Preval
But, oh, you alright?

00:07:18 Nick Breedon
No. Oh yeah. Oops.

00:07:21 Jake Preval
Sorry. Yeah. Well, then I met Dan. Like, literally, I don’t know, two months after getting off the plane, I, stumbled into Dan and he came into my life and I fell in love. And I… Look I was really ready to fall in love and he was so wonderful. And then we’ve been together, ever since mm-hmm. , which, yeah, it certainly wasn’t like the plan, but it’s absolutely the best choice I’ve ever made.

00:07:47 Nick Breedon
Mm mm-hmm. Yeah. I definitely recommend that as like a, finding your, you know, your soulmate, uh, strategy is have it be really inconvenient. You’ll definitely meet someone if it’s really inconvenient.

00:08:00 Jake Preval
Well, that’s it. Oh my God. Yeah. My whole family were like do not fall in love like you’re moving to a new city. It’s like yeah, go Spread your wings and so obviously I fell in love straight away Exactly, which you know, and then also spread my wings which caused lots of problems early on But yes, no Dan is the best he’s a playwright so we just, we just hit it off, you know, and it was very nice. And he really gave me the confidence to go to art school because I think I sort of, what I really loved most about making theater with baby shareds was the design element and the kind of, yeah, the performance making less than the acting and the sort of theatrical side. And I realized that that, cause I had always painted, I painted through, you know, I started painting in an earnest fashion when I was 13 up until I left, New Zealand. I had one show of paintings, which I’m glad there’s no documentation of back in New Zealand at a cinema that I worked at, which is a great cinema. But yeah, I really, I just knew that I wanted to make art, and so yeah, Dan was like, just go, go to the VCA. He helped me put together a folio, which was, it was so good. I mean, God, we went to that stupid expensive store on Brunswick Street, Florence, and bought like a, an immaculate folder. It was all a waste of time and money. They didn’t give a shit. But you know, we got things printed and It was, you know, it was a deal and interviewed and I got in and I did at the VCA did sculpture and spatial practice. From in 2012, I think I started and I loved it. It was really great. Yeah, it definitely helped. Well it gave me a language to talk about making work and like things that had felt instinctual, you know, making performance and like trying to find a way to transition them into a gallery setting. And it was just really fun and. Yeah, I had a really good time. Simone Slee was the head of the course then, and it was like, it was quite structured unlike the other disciplines

00:10:36 Kiera Brew Kurec
except for maybe photography. First year photography, I always felt bad for them standing out in the blistering sun with their little like, color checks.

00:10:43 Nick Breedon

00:10:43 Jake Preval
yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,

00:10:45 Nick Breedon
yeah. Those guys had bootcamp.

00:10:47 Jake Preval
Yeah, well it was we had to do like, you know, we had like five or six crits in the first year, it was like point, line, plane and kind of all of these sculptural concepts, which I had, I had never like put words to and it allowed a space to play and not be like concerned with the outcome, which I found very liberating. Also like Simone Slee was like Lorde of making things out of cardboard and I was like, yes, this is like a material language that I, like, that speaks to me. I remember going to, yeah,

00:11:24 Nick Breedon
coming from theater, especially. Yeah.

00:11:29 Jake Preval
Yeah. Yeah. There’s kind of like gaffer tape logic where you’re like, everything is achievable, get it ready for opening night. Um. And so to look, to be able to revel in that as a material or like, you know, allow that to be, was really eyeopening. I remember we had to go on a class expedition to, to show at Heidi, like a post minimal show, which Simone had a work in which beautiful, like help a sculpture stand up. But there was a Mikala Dwyer work. Those works are so good. It was, it was a Mikala Dwyer work and it was, Made of toilet rolls and I don’t know something else like it’s super rudimentary, but incredibly beautiful and I just Remember feeling like oh, this is okay Like any you can turn anything into art like you can it doesn’t matter, you know, like yeah the material That’s what you do and, and how you, how it speaks to you, you know, which was a very, profound experience as a young art student. It’s like, yes, great. It’s all on. And then what else happened in my life? Let’s find out.

00:12:39 Kiera Brew Kurec
What happened post, university and, and when you came out, were you like yes. This is what I want to do now. Like I can see a vision or was it, you kind of took some time to figure those next steps out.

00:12:52 Jake Preval
No, no, I knew, I guess I knew I really, before I started that I really wanted to be an artist and doing my undergrad really like cemented it and I had a really good time and then oh no maybe it was during my undergrad. I had my first solo show in Melbourne in 2013, so it would have been in second year at the George Paton Gallery, which is a great gallery at University of Melbourne. And it was just like a body of work that I’d been thinking about from years prior. You know how that, like it often takes a long time to actually, like, make the work that you’ve been thinking about and by the time you make it, you’re sort of like, Oh, have I moved on? I don’t know. Anyway, it was really, it was an important thing for me to do and to like, I got these large scale photos printed, which I’ve never done before. It got me very excited anyway it was like a really great, space to test out some ideas. And now it’s 2023. Oh my god! And which means I’ve been exhibiting here for 10 years, which is, it’s like a nice point of reflection, you know?

00:13:58 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah, for sure.

00:14:01 Jake Preval
Yeah, so, because I guess like after university, I… Showed it a bunch of the, ARIs in Melbourne, which are all so great and very supportive and like a really great learning curve. And I got actually straight after, I left school, Katie Lee, let me become her studio mate and her beautiful studio, which was another, like, it was really just to be in the space. And like, I remember. Susan Jacobs had a studio next door and her coming in, I don’t know, to borrow a drill bit or something. And just like, just being in it, I just felt so, it felt really amazing. I was like, my God, there are artists here. I’m an artist. I’m here.

00:14:54 Nick Breedon
Yeah. I love that. So your artist anecdote is. Is someone coming in to borrow a draw bit? That’s, that’s pretty much the peak of art, art activity.

00:15:05 Jake Preval
Yeah. I know. It’s like, God, look, it’s just like every day, it was like business people just like doing it and borrowing things. And I don’t know, but Katie Lee, I remember her saying at the time, she’s like, uh, 10 years of practice is when you like, when the real work begins. And that’s like when you start to like hone in or, you know, some clarity emerges and I think she might be right. Yeah. So I’m looking forward to next ten years.

00:15:34 Kiera Brew Kurec
Was there any kind of, pivotal moments during that time, like obviously using that space that, Katie let you have access to, but was there any other moments during that time that were really formative in how you created your practice or decided to continue to practice?

00:15:51 Jake Preval
Yeah, there was some, I had a show in 2018 at the Warrnambool art gallery that was both like, was an amazing experience and like an amazing opportunity at that time. And also very eyeopening about like the kind of actualities of engaging in, in those spaces, you know, I was like, Oh my God, I was going to have like a solo at the Warrnambool and then I got the contract and the fee was so low. It was like $1200 and I just remember being so shocked.

00:16:33 Kiera Brew Kurec

00:16:34 Jake Preval
This is, and I mean, I know it’s probably crass to talk about it, but I think we have to talk about it.

00:16:39 Nick Breedon
We have to talk about it,

00:16:40 Jake Preval
Like what, what that actuality is. And I was like, Oh my God, I had to get the work up and back. I had to install it.

00:16:48 Kiera Brew Kurec
And Warrnambool is not close.

00:16:50 Nick Breedon
Oh, it’s far away.

00:16:52 Jake Preval
No, Oh my God.

00:16:52 Kiera Brew Kurec
A Lot of petrol.

00:16:55 Jake Preval
And it ultimately, it was a really great experience, but I was like, really, that’s the fee that you’re giving? That just feels so disconnected. Yeah, look, I hope they’ve rectified that, but also, probably they haven’t, you know? I think, maybe it’s jumping around, but like, One of the things that I recommend people to do, uh, as a, you know, a resource that has assisted my practice is listening to artist talks, and, and talking about the actuality. I remember seeing, uh, Darren Sylvester gave an amazing talk at the VCA in conjunction with their, NGV show, which was so good. And he was just so. Incredibly frank and upfront about how he’d been dicked over by this gallery in, I think, in Queensland. Uh, and it was really… revelatory he is like beware, you know, like don’t spend more money than, you know, like make sure you’re balancing and breaking even and like think through the benefits of, of an offer before just like diving in.

00:18:06 Kiera Brew Kurec

00:18:07 Jake Preval
He made, and which was, it’s really good advice, you know, cause it’s very easy, especially early on to just be like, yes, take, take it all, you know, I’ll do anything you say.

00:18:19 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah. And I think the thing as well is like asking, like, uh, are the other artists in the show getting paid this amount as well? Like if you’re in a group show as well and kind of by asking those questions, you’re advocating or like, as you grow and become, and, you know, more senior figure in the art world, ask, like, when you have that more authority kind of turning around and asking the institutions, like, is, are the other people getting paid the same amount as me or, yeah.

00:18:50 Jake Preval
On what, like, what is your basis how have you arrived at this figure? Like, what is it? You know?

00:18:55 Kiera Brew Kurec
Totally. Totally. This is a really good, place to take it to the next question, because you’re already addressing what some of those challenges are to continue practicing, and obviously one of them is, like, understanding the financial, situation of being an artist and like how much money you’re getting and how much a show actually costs to put on. I would love to hear if you have, had any other like challenges or obstacles that you’ve had to overcome during your practice and how you’ve navigated them.

00:19:24 Jake Preval
Yeah, I think, look, it’s so sad that it all hinges on money, or so much of it hinges on money, you know. I think, the pressure, or the, just the reality of having to survive and pay the rent. And so having to have a, a parallel career of some description to support your practice, is just like this endless life juggle, which you know, sometimes you’re doing better, sometimes you’re doing worse. Uh, I currently work three casual jobs as well as trying to be, to have an ongoing practice, which is, it’s really hard, you know, and I think

00:20:08 Kiera Brew Kurec
That is a lot to juggle along with all your other things that you do, like besides just being an artist, just your life as well.

00:20:16 Jake Preval
Well, yeah, then also have a, three year old daughter. So there’s a, there’s a lot going on

00:20:21 Kiera Brew Kurec
and a relationship like that’s, it’s. So much,

00:20:25 Jake Preval
it’s very, yeah, it’s, it’s very tricky to find like windows of time and the studio. And I think about, I’m like, could I be doing this better? Like, would it be better to work, you know, try and find set part time job, but there’s still, though I really hate the casualized workforce and I think it’s, you know awful. For me, there is some flexibility in it. And, but it also means that it shapes my studio practice, you know, that I have really, I percolate ideas for a long time. And then I have really dense periods in the studio where I work, you know, for three weeks, like an mad man because I can sort of carve out that time. And I think there’s pros and cons to that. I think maybe more cons, like I would really love to have more stable studio practice,

00:21:28 Nick Breedon
like sick leave.

00:21:29 Jake Preval
It would allow for . Yeah. And sick leave and, you know, and to know where I was gonna be at any time. But yes, and it means, yeah, it means for me that I do it leaves less room for experimentation and I like to experiment and sometimes that goes well and sometimes that goes bad, but did you hear about the show at Connors Connors?

00:21:57 Kiera Brew Kurec
Oh, not, uh, not about it.

00:21:59 Nick Breedon
Like, I mean, I mean, we know about it because we read out your bio.

00:22:04 Jake Preval
Oh, wow. I mean, I had a really great time. I’m going to tell you, cause it’s funny and I think, wow, we should all laugh about the world and our practice and not take anything too seriously. So I was making, I’ve done, I did my masters. Which was all about like submissive psychology and like subspace as a kind of creative field, like in a sort of fetishistic sense. And I was still, and still am interested in that really. But I made this series of works, which were, glass casts of my head, which were filled with different lovers piss. So they were like,

00:22:47 Kiera Brew Kurec
That’s amazing.

00:22:49 Jake Preval
So there’s like these four glass heads. It was like, I don’t know, about 13 liters of piss in each one.

00:22:55 Kiera Brew Kurec

00:22:56 Jake Preval
And honestly, making one, making cast glass is, was a nightmare.

00:23:04 Nick Breedon
It was so technically challenging.

00:23:06 Jake Preval
It was very technically challenging and I’d never done it before. Anyway. The glass, because it was like blown into the glass, into the mold, it was like a lost wax mold that the glass was then blown into. It was uneven. The glass was uneven. Anyway, when it was filled with piss and plugged, they, and it was like,

00:23:30 Nick Breedon
please let this be going where I think it’s going,

00:23:34 Jake Preval
and it gets better than you could ever imagine. On install day, like in the studio beforehand, one had cracked and I was like, Oh my God, what a nightmare. And I’d sort of like. Fixed it up, a million t araldites, blah blah, and then like at the install, which My husband, Dan is such an angel. He always helps me in doing installs and on our way to this install, we were just like, oh my God, everything is ready to go. This is gonna be a breeze. Oh no, this is gonna be like in an hour. I know. Cheeky two hours as we laugh to ourselves. Anyway, we got to the gallery and then like instantly one started leaking. I was like, Oh my God, trying to plug this in and then a second one leaking and throughout the day we lost three of the four. Like, we So like this, the whole install had been like changed and so it ended up just being this one head and there’s other, there’s some other works on the wall. And actually it was kind of nice. It was like, you still, you still got the kind of essence of the work inside this one, even, you know, you lost something, but blah, blah, whatever. I had enough time to run down the road to my friend’s house, have a cheeky shower, borrow some clothes and come back. And then

00:25:05 Nick Breedon
Cause were you covered in piss as well? Like was it just Sort of piss leaking everywhere.

00:25:11 Jake Preval
I mean, and like, old piss, old piss really stinks.

00:25:15 Nick Breedon
This is amazing.

00:25:17 Jake Preval
But anyway, so I come, I’m coming up the stairs. It’s in the town hall. It’s like, this is a very beautiful. My friend runs out. She’s like, quick, quick. And the room is like, you know, half full with people. And the remaining head has cracked. I’m sitting on a plinth. Oh my God. And it’s like crack has appeared and it’s like crying piss down his face, down the, the plinth, onto the floor, it was, and the floor was carpet, which couldn’t have been better, I really love, like soiled carpet, it’s something that really speaks to me, anyway.

00:25:56 Nick Breedon
It’s so performative, I love it.

00:25:59 Jake Preval
Yeah, I was sort of, like the work had been such a nightmare to make. It kind of took on its own life and it was sort of like the only way it could finish and I was It was kind of euphoric at the time. I was like It pushes back. Anyway, so eventually half the face cracked and fell off.

00:26:19 Nick Breedon
Oh my God. That’s so fucking dramatic.

00:26:22 Jake Preval
A flood of piss all over the floor. And then the gallery was like, Oh my God, should we put it in a box? And then they had this like office works tub that we sort of moved it into. And then that was like really beautiful and abject. And I was like, Oh, this is, this is it. Like it’s come together.

00:26:41 Nick Breedon
Oh my God, that’s so good.

00:26:45 Kiera Brew Kurec

00:26:48 Jake Preval
Uh, oh, well, you know, if I’d had more time in the studio, maybe I would.

00:26:51 Nick Breedon
Yeah. Yeah. But it’s almost like a weird shame fetish or something where it’s just like, oh no, I’m pissing myself in public and I can’t stop and it’s happening, but like, it’s so euphoric.

00:27:04 Jake Preval
It sort of articulated this whole other suite of things and yeah, like, I’m really interested in, in shame as a mechanism and like method for making, you know, and it sort of did it for me.

00:27:18 Nick Breedon
Yeah, whether you wanted to or not.

00:27:22 Jake Preval
Yeah, it’s like, oh, yeah, so like had I had more time in the studio, like maybe I would’ve worked out that the glass was thin in places. In the end I was able to fix a couple of them and reinstall ’em on the floor. But, it was a very, eventful opening night.

00:27:39 Kiera Brew Kurec
Oh, I wish I was there.

00:27:40 Jake Preval
Oh my God it was a hoot. The gallery were very good about it, although then I was like, should we just leave it in the Officeworks tab? But then they came back in the next day and, The smell was too much, they’re

00:27:55 Nick Breedon
. And did you leave the stain on the floor?

00:27:58 Jake Preval
No, they cleaned that up. Yeah, it just smelled too bad. Yeah, I mean, look, it’s a council facility.

00:28:05 Nick Breedon

00:28:06 Jake Preval
Yeah, but anyway. That was a great time.

00:28:10 Kiera Brew Kurec
I’ve been thinking about that a bit lately, about how, we often have to learn how to use new materials just in time for the show and like how we don’t, we really don’t have time to kind of master or even get to know things really well. Yeah,

00:28:29 Jake Preval
yeah, I think that’s it. And I think for that, it’s definitely like a recurrent, problem that I encounter because I guess I’m sort of like conceptually led into new terrain all the time. And I’m like, oh yeah, okay, this is how the idea has to be manifest. And so I don’t, I’m not a painter or a ceramicist or, you know, and like, the medium doesn’t come first. So yes, you do often run the risk of coming up against new processes. And the positive is like, you’re always learning and you’re always learning about new things and like, They will, you know, dovetail back into other works, but yeah, the risk is really that you are working, you’re always working beyond your sphere of knowledge or like, or pushing, pushing at the edges of that, which I, it’s where I like to be, but does sometimes result in your own head cracking with piss

00:29:27 Nick Breedon
As someone who has, who is similarly motivated by working, you know, with an idea and then having to find, you know, the material comes is by the idea. I have found this, this kind of beautiful moment where eventually, eventually, if you keep doing it, all of, all of your skill sets have end up like they eventually end up lining up and you, you kind of fill in all the gaps and then eventually you kind of actually do know mostly what you’re doing. And it’s like. This beautiful moment where you’re like, Oh, hang on. I actually think I already know how to do this because it’s sort of a little bit like that project I did sort of seven years ago.

00:30:05 Jake Preval
Yeah. Yeah.

00:30:06 Nick Breedon
And that’s a, that’s a beautiful thing when you’re like, Oh, I’m, I think I might be actually kind of competent as a maker now.

00:30:13 Jake Preval
Yes. I look, I strive towards it. I, yeah.

00:30:19 Nick Breedon
Yeah. Keep making piss heads.

00:30:21 Jake Preval
Well, look, you know, piss’ll be back, but maybe not in a head,

00:30:25 Nick Breedon
may time for a residency wit h, Glassworks or something.

00:30:28 Jake Preval
Yeah. You know what? Absolutely. I should’ve gone to fuckin Jam Factory in Adelaide, but I… You know, anyway, the guy I did use was a real, a gentleman, but it was chaos. But it is also another, I guess like talking, thinking about things that people can do to like resources for people like, Doing little workshops is such a great way to, to build those skills, you know, I mean, maybe you’d go do a weekend glass workshop or whatever the, you know, I did recently, I did a wax workshop, like a foundry wax workshop, which I was like, I don’t really, I know, I already know all about that, but they were really nice and they were like, come do it. And actually I got heaps out of it, you know, and it really. Sometimes going back to basics can really like unlock things. Totally. And even, even if it’s a skill that

00:31:23 Kiera Brew Kurec
you are competent in, just learning, like having someone else, telling you, like sharing their method of doing it. Cause they might have been taught from a different type of approach as well.

00:31:34 Jake Preval
That’s it. Yeah. So it’s great to challenge your, your base knowledge and be like, Oh yeah. Okay.

00:31:40 Nick Breedon
Yeah. Where was that? Where was that workshop Jake?

00:31:44 Jake Preval
That was at Meridian Sculpture. That’s where the wax working workshop was.

00:31:51 Kiera Brew Kurec
Thank you for sharing.

00:31:52 Jake Preval
Yeah. I, yeah, they, they were really cool. It was a great time.

00:31:57 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah. I, I’ve done some like glass workshops in a few different places, but one of them was with Kate Barber in Sydney, if anyone wants to do glass casting workshops, she does that just on the topic of cast glass and workshops. Look her up. She has a really great studio in Sydenham.

00:32:18 Nick Breedon
Jake, I was wondering if you might share with us a little bit about what a successful practice means to you.

00:32:25 Jake Preval
Yes. Yes, I would like to share some thoughts on that.

00:32:32 Kiera Brew Kurec

00:32:35 Jake Preval
I think, I don’t feel, I feel like I’m doing okay, but I am obviously working three casual jobs. So a successful practice would be being able to continue making the work that I would like to make, and to be able to make a living off that. I would, that would be, that would feel like success for me. Like, you know, I would, because time in the studio is, is success and that would buy me time. You know what I mean? Like I just.

00:33:09 Nick Breedon

00:33:11 Jake Preval
It’s just sustainability. Like I understand like the, it’s going to be an expensive life because I work in sculpture and materials that are, the fabrication costs are just really high. And if I could just like offset, and like, you know, also be able to pay the rent, that would be awesome. Really nice. Yeah, I’m a humble boy.

00:33:36 Kiera Brew Kurec
I always, going back to VCA always was like, how are the photography, photography and sculpture kids affording this? ’cause like in painting we could, you know, it was a lot of cardboard boxes.

00:33:47 Nick Breedon
You could just paint with house paint.

00:33:48 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah. You could do whatever you wanted, basically. Whereas I was always like, how are you guys like having to pay for materials and that continues after you graduate and the materials get more expensive.

00:34:00 Nick Breedon
Fucking hell. Me and the sculptor were recently talking about how we fucking hate this. We want to quit and become painters because we’re just like can’t afford this shit anymore. I got nowhere to put all this junk. Too hard. Too many tools.

00:34:14 Jake Preval
Too many fucking tools. I have, actually, I think at the time that we last spoke, circa 2020, I was just getting back into drawing and painting, which I actually have kept up, which has been a really nice, like, ongoing studio practice, which I haven’t shown any of the work and I probably doubt that I ever will, but like, it’s a nice way to stay engaged. So I do like to think of myself as a painter as well.

00:34:42 Nick Breedon
Yeah. Well, you know, you need something to, um. Invariably, when you get asked to put something in a, an ARI fundraiser, it’s nice to have something to, you know, call on to submit. That’s, that’s, that’s why we all keep up our painting practices.

00:35:08 All

00:35:08 Jake Preval
Uh, yes. Where were we?

00:35:10 Kiera Brew Kurec
Uh, well, I was just going to say leading on from there, given that you now like have this part of your practice, which is drawing and, and painting and, And given that we’ve spoken about time as well, what does your time in the studio look like? And, and when do you get to spend that time in the studio?

00:35:27 Jake Preval
Yes. So currently, I actually have the nicest studio that I’ve ever had, which is, uh, like a double garage out the back of our house. And it’s spacious and the floor is even, and it’s, I know it’s, it doesn’t leak though plants are growing through the walls and also like I’ve had to rig up an elaborate plastic sheeting system on the roof, so none of like the grot and shit falls down through. So it’s, it’s still earthy, but it is spacious. And. I also, look, it’s really nice. I love to have a studio at home because I mean, I guess I’m just. We’re caring for a three year old and working heaps of jobs, so like carving out little chunks of time is more realistic than necessarily always being able to carve out a whole day, even though a full day would be really nice. And my studio currently is, well, I cleaned it, I have to clean between, bodies of work or whatever. And so I had to give it like a, an emotional reset. I just finished making some new work that was like an extension of a series for, the spring art fair. And also making an addition of work. So I was like, great, reset it.So it’s very clean, but then the wind ripped all my sheeting down and everything.

00:37:08 Kiera Brew Kurec
Oh no, in that crazy wind, like two weeks ago?

00:37:11 Jake Preval
Yes. It’s caused chaos, which I’m still working through. But I, look, a normal day would be going in, if I, if I have some studio time. I often start drawing because I, lots of the work that I do is involves like lots of setup and like, I don’t know, setting up photo shoots and whatever, spending time on the computer, which can be a real, it can feel administrative, you know, it’s like after you’ve done all the kind of conceptual thinking and whatever, it’s about like the doing. So to try and kind of offset that I like to, you know, do some drawing and some painting or make a mess in a way that it’s not really representative of my other work, but just for myself, you know, yeah. And I have this gorgeous new table that I got facebook marketplace, which is like huge, it’s like three and a half meters by two and a half meters. So it’s like huge and black and you can take the lid off.

00:38:20 Nick Breedon
What kind of was it? It was like a cutting table or something?

00:38:25 Jake Preval
It was an artist who died, their table and their family finally, we’re like, we need to pass this on and I was very grateful to be the beneficiary of that gorgeous table. And so I generally have two or three, like little areas going at the same time to try and, you know, maximize time. And yeah, what am I starting now? I have to, I’m currently setting up for a new suite of photographic work. So I’m painting backdrops as my current, uh, mood in the studio and also dyeing socks. Ooh, I’m, I’m a fabric dyer now. This is what I do. Yeah. But that’s not answering the question. What was the question?

00:39:18 Kiera Brew Kurec
Uh, you know, how you structure your time in the studio, but you, you definitely did. You definitely did about drawing first and yeah. I

00:39:27 Nick Breedon
feel like I, I like, I’ve always, it’s very different from my kind of, uh, set up in terms of going to the studio now. But I think I, I look back on the time that I had a studio at my home so longingly because I, there was something really beautiful about just walking straight out and into the garage and just starting working, you didn’t have to think about like, Oh, like I’ll put something together for lunch and then, you know, you get a coffee and, you know, you could just like, you get hungry and you just walk inside and you just make some lunch and then go back out and keep working. You know, you don’t have to, you don’t have to have use all of your brain power figuring out the structure of the day. It’s just like, Oh, I feel, I feel like I could do some work for a couple of hours.

00:40:13 Jake Preval
I can do it all. But then on the flip side, do you think it’s like, do you do better work if you’re going to your studio as a site of work? Are you like there to do. You know, your five hours of work without like, I mean, it would be nice sometimes not to be interrupted by a small child. Who is like, what are you doing?

00:40:35 Nick Breedon
Well, I didn’t have a small child, so, you know, there was, I think, I think having the garage, it was like, it was just far enough, you know, those couple of steps to have that break in the space. I think if I had, uh, you know, like a spare room. Or maybe even the room would be okay, but like it just it being a separate kind of physical space was enough just to kind of like separate the kind of home and studio time. But also like, I think there’s also that, yeah, that kind of that flip side of like I think by the time I would kind of, you know, get up, get up and get dressed and get all my lunch together and pack my bag and get my, make sure I’ve got my laptop and blah, blah, blah, blah. And then set foot in the studio. I’ve already used like half of my available brain power for one day. There’s not much in there. So, you know, like I need to save it for the art. I think I, I quite, I quite like that for me there’s a sort of like fuzz in the morning when I first wake up before the sort of, you know, The demons get, get to me, you know, and, and I just start thinking too much. It’s like, I’m not capable of, of, of having rational thought yet first thing in the morning. So I find that like that space can be like this really pure, space of Zen, you know, like I can kind of step into that void really easily and just make work. Particularly when I was like painting or, doing something quite like you know, intensely, you know, technical

00:42:02 Jake Preval
yeah. And look, it has, I had his, uh, go home studio at our last, place, which was, it was very earthy, but it was, it was really practical, like, you know, Because as sort of mentioned, like the work periods can be like intense and concentrated being so close to home means you can work till three in the morning and then just fall into bed, you know, is that a sustainable work model? Maybe not, but, I don’t know.

00:42:35 Nick Breedon
There’s nothing worse than realizing that you’ve already maybe worked . Yeah. And, but then I also often the streets and you’re like, Ugh, this is not right. .

00:42:43 Jake Preval
Yeah.. I think often about, Simone Slee, she’s really very influential when I was young. Uh, and she was like, you’ve gotta stay in your studio. Like you’ve gotta turn up and you’ve got a go to your studio, and you’ve got to like beat your head against the wall because it’s like times where you’re bored or you’re just fucking around or whatever, it can often be like really fruitful periods of reflection. And that is actually often very true, which is why a successful practice, I would love to be able to, to be bored in the studio, you know. Wouldn’t it be nice to not be like, God, I’m like, I’m gonna achive this thing.

00:43:28 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah, I think that that is really true. And sometimes I, sometimes trick myself as well. This is especially if I’m on residency. And I’m like, Oh, I’ve got this amazing opportunity and I, need to make work because I’ve got this opportunity, but then your brain…

00:43:44 Nick Breedon
I’m going to make 20 works this week.

00:43:46 Kiera Brew Kurec
But your brain then obviously goes into this thing where it’s like, I have no, I can’t. I can’t work. I can’t figure it out. So I have these kind of like default little exercises that I do, and they’re normally like really like crappy watercolors or something that I do as a kind of exercise to just trick my brain into thinking that it’s, it’s already working, but it’s also going into that, kind of weird twilighty brain where you’re not doing anything.

00:44:14 Jake Preval
Yes, yeah, yeah. And This is the same, this is the same for me with. Like drawing and yeah, or whatever at the start is just like this kind of, yeah, it is trying to like get into that mind space. You’re like, all right, yeah,

00:44:28 Kiera Brew Kurec
you’re here, you’re, you’re available for the artworks to come to you, but you’re also occupying yourself physically through some kind of act of making and that’s when I find that I can, I can then kind of get into practice a little bit easier or those ideas start coming and like making more sense, because I’ve put my brain in that space, but it is a space of where boredom is and it can be boring and it can be a very boring, lonely, waiting time.

00:45:04 Jake Preval
Yes. I mean, that’s totally it. Really. Yeah. And sometimes it feels like work and it is work.

00:45:13 Kiera Brew Kurec
It really is.

00:45:15 Jake Preval
Gotta organize this, gotta contact a printer, gotta blah, blah, blah.

00:45:19 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah, yeah. And I think that that, like that exercise is really good as well from like switching from, you know, administrative brain and grant writing brain or whatever into, practice brain.

00:45:30 Jake Preval
More instinctual brain, yeah.

00:45:32 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah, yeah. You’ve already so generously shared some resources with us, but are there any others that you wanted to share?

00:45:41 Jake Preval
What did I put on my list workshops? Yeah. Darren Sylvester great. Slash go to artist talks. Yes.

00:45:51 Kiera Brew Kurec
Art forum is online now You can watch it wherever you are,

00:45:53 Jake Preval
which is great love those. There’s been some really good ones. It’s a good ongoing series. I love art books, which is like, not necessarily a sustainable habit. I really love to read about other people’s work. Yeah. You know, and it’s like often, just like really little things. Like other people’s artist statements, and I fucking hate artist statements, but reading other people’s can really be so illuminating, you know. When we’re all like shuffling around the same set of ideas, it’s like how someone, someone phrases something. Well, you know, it’s just like, yeah, it’s like how, how do people, I always think about like, how do people give themselves space to do what they want to, you know, like. The kind of, uh, how can you, yeah, how can that serve you? But sometimes you read other people’s and you’re like, yes, yes. And then I like highlight them or I put a little sticky book in and then I obviously forget about them, but read, read lots of books. And, you know, I, I love going to the library, go to the library.

00:47:08 Kiera Brew Kurec
Is there a particular library that you really love? Cause I have a few libraries that I really love, but I think just have so many amazing resources.

00:47:16 Nick Breedon
Library fans.

00:47:18 Jake Preval
Yeah. Like I am, I love the Brunswick Library, it’s got some great art books there. Also, I mean, the Coburg Library is, has some great, I just think any libraries, go to the, the University of Melbourne Library. Anyone can go at any time, and they’ve got such good books there. And, I mean, like, you might not be able to check them out, but you can access them, you know? Should you so want to trashy books that I loved reading. I really liked, Sarah, I think her name is Sarah Thornton. She did like 33 Days in the Art . Did you read that one? No, I haven’t. Oh, it’s… It’s like, it’s trashy journalism, but it’s really great.

00:48:06 Nick Breedon
It sounds awesome.

00:48:07 Jake Preval
Oh, no, it’s, it’s not 33 days. It’s seven days. Okay. Well, look, I was I’ve spent too long there.

00:48:15 Kiera Brew Kurec
Stay for a whole month.

00:48:17 Jake Preval
It’s kind of, she goes to an auction house, she goes to a gallery, I don’t know. She just writes in a very lovely, journalistic tone. And then she did a sequel, which is interviews with artists. Which is called something, I don’t know, 100 Artists in 15 Minutes or whatever. I like it. I like hearing about artists,

00:48:36 Nick Breedon

00:48:36 Jake Preval
other artists. Those are all my suggestions for the world.

00:48:41 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah. Fantastic. Thank you so much.

00:48:43 Jake Preval
Develop. Yeah, yeah,

00:48:46 Kiera Brew Kurec
yeah. Libraries are great. And I’m gonna, I don’t know if this is still relevant or not, but just when you’re talking about artists reading other people’s artist statements, when I was young and coming out of uni, a lot of the galleries, I don’t think this exists anymore, but it used to be at a lot of the commercial galleries, they would have a binder folder on the front desk that would have the person’s like artist statement and their CV in it. And you could flick through them and then they would also have photographs of previous exhibitions because websites didn’t exist yet. So they would have this binder folder. But now I guess you can just go on the galleries websites, but I would look at, people’s CVs and see, like track their career trajectory and where they had shown, and what they had done and what, what awards and all of those things. And. I, you know, I guess this was definitely pre internet, but also it was a really good way to see like artists who, whose careers I really admired and then to kind of work backwards and figure out what they had done, through the CV.

00:49:54 Jake Preval
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And it’s, it’s so good to do, you know, and I think, I don’t know, there’s like, artists that I really love and sometimes I feel shocked about the reality of being an artist. Like Mikala Dwyer, again, as an, as an example, I love her work a lot. She’s so fantastic, but she’s like a full time teacher as well. You know, I’m like, she’s fucking killing it. It’s, it’s a hard road out there.

00:50:28 Kiera Brew Kurec
Everyone’s supplementing their practice somehow.

00:50:31 Jake Preval
Everyone is supplementing their practice. So you have to. You have to be concurrently thinking about how you’re going to do that, you know?

00:50:39 Kiera Brew Kurec
Even if you’re like having a really successful period, just in terms of, how many opportunities available there are in this country, that successful period is probably only gonna last for a certain amount of time in terms of like getting all of those opportunities. So you really have to either diversify your skills or like somehow figure out how to manage that like if you do get a bit of cashflow coming in, how to make that an investment long term into your career and not just kind of burn it up all at once.

00:51:13 Jake Preval
It’s, the mind boggles, it’s not an easy task to sit out on. But we love it.

00:51:28 Kiera Brew Kurec
Well, on that note, if you could go back in time, and give some advice to your younger self, maybe before you went into VCA or on the other side of it, what advice would that be?

00:51:42 Jake Preval
Uh, look, I have some advice for younger me and it is I, I think coming out of art school, I would, you’re very vulnerable in lots of ways because you really want opportunities, but you don’t really know how to advocate for yourself necessarily. And I, I just got into a couple of bad spots where, a gallery went belly up and they had, they were, had been holding a bunch of my work, which had then disappeared. And I think, I mean, I think we can talk about it. It was a lot of people. It was Fort Delta. And they, they had like a lot of work in the stock rooms. And it all went to shit. And it all went missing. And so my advice to myself would be… Like communicate really clearly and don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself. Like if you’re giving work to a gallery, like have a paper trail because I mean, like the art world is loose. It is very loose

00:52:55 Nick Breedon
Its the fucking wild west out htere

00:52:58 Jake Preval
it fucking is, the idea of contracts or putting anything to paper is still a foreign concept in a lot of spaces and I feel very lucky I’m now represented by Sarah Scout, who are wonderful and have been like, you know, the antithesis of my haunted Fort Delta experience. But like, I, I guess it’s a personal thing that I really like is, is, is clear and honest communication. And I, they, you know, Fort Delta ended up owing me about three and a half grand, which I will never see. And there were other people who are way worse off. Yeah, it was a real shit show

00:53:44 Nick Breedon
shame on them,

00:53:45 Kiera Brew Kurec
but also like not, but also not the only space that that’s happened into in recent times as well. So it’s like, well, like pay attention, make sure you have some writing that will can be

00:53:59 Jake Preval
it’s a strange place anyway, communicate clearly and just have your, your own ducks in a row, you know, so you know where you’re sending things and what your expectations are. So like, blessed be the Sarah Scout.

00:54:16 Nick Breedon
Even just on that as an extension, I would even like, even go just to further that, recommend that everybody gets everything in writing at all times. And if, if people are reluctant, if you’re working with a gallery and the gallery is reluctant to put something in writing. That’s a pretty clear sign to you that something isn’t right.

00:54:42 Jake Preval
I absolutely, 100%, like, why, why is the art world afraid of contract?

00:54:50 Nick Breedon
And it’s for them, it’s for them to be able to. Kind of, you know, manipulate things in their, in their best interest. So, so, you know, and, and, and, and that’s fine and that’s fine for them if they want that, but they need to, they need to put that in on paper. So yeah, I would always just recommend to people just, just get everything in, you know, just by email. Talk to someone on the phone, follow it up with an email, write them an email, just saying exactly what you spoke about on the phone and just say, just to confirm our phone conversation.

00:55:18 Jake Preval
Yeah. I think that’s, uh, that’s a great. Like practical strategy. Yeah. Yeah. Like we’ve got a file.

00:55:26 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah. And, not to hijack your advice, even more, but I would even say like, just because that, I mean, all sides of the arts is pretty loose, but, that like there is so much exploitation, especially in terms of like really young artists that are coming out of art school and getting approached by commercial galleries. Looking through who is in the stable and maybe approaching them and asking what their relationship to the gallery is like, and then maybe finding someone who has left that gallery and asking them kindly if they could share the reason why they left, because if they’re leaving, cause they’re like, you know, some dodgy shit happened, they’re probably very happy to share that and like, let you know that and give you a heads up, or they might be like, you know, there was It was my time to leave or blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Which just to kind of get a, an understanding, cause it can look really shiny and really great. Like when you’re young, like, Oh, You know, this person is showing interest in me, but like, you know, just doing a bit of research or just asking anyone, you know, who is represented by commercial galleries, Hey, can you have a look over this? Does this seem right? Yeah, because yes, we all know there’s, there’s some really dodgy,

00:56:49 Jake Preval
there’s some dodgy things going out there. I, um. Yeah, I, well, like I lucky, I lucked out with Sarah Scout. I really love them. And I had had lots of conversations with, they’re stable in the lead up, you know, and I felt confident about that, but yes.

00:57:08 Kiera Brew Kurec
You can often also see like, you know, with the places like Sarah Scout, those artists have stayed with them for a really long time. They’re probably doing pretty well.

00:57:19 Jake Preval
Yeah, there’s a kind of, there’s a holistic outlook that is, that’s positive. And my other advice to young me, or to young, I don’t know, the past, is that it’s a long game. And just to, like, don’t, I think last time we spoke I was, like, recovering from, I guess, like, some pretty serious burnout and some, you know, a mental health flip out because of working at a ceaseless pace and life, you know, becoming overwhelming and it’s just not worth it. It’s just not worth it. Just work at a pace that is like realistic for you and that allows you to derive pleasure from it, you know, because. Otherwise, what’s the fucking point?

00:58:11 Kiera Brew Kurec
Thank you, Jake. That’s some really good advice.

00:58:13 Nick Breedon
Great advice.

00:58:16 Kiera Brew Kurec
And yeah, I think we might leave it on that note. Thank you for spending your time with us today. It’s great.

00:58:24 Jake Preval
Did we cover everything?

00:58:25 Kiera Brew Kurec
We did. No, it was great. Thank you so much for being on the show again.

00:58:30 Jake Preval
And thanks for having me. It’s been really lovely.

00:58:34 Nick Breedon
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.

00:58:50 Kiera Brew Kurec
This season of ProPrac was funded by Creative Australia. Our music is created by Evelyn Ida Morris.

00:58:59 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.

00:59:13 Kiera Brew Kurec
Also, consider sharing this episode with a friend.