Season One – Steaphan Paton

Steaphan Paton

Season 1 – Episode 1


Instagram Handle @wheres_the_nativeman


Kiera Brew Kurec 0:00
Hi I’m Kiera Brew Kurec

Nick Breedon 0:01
I’m Nick Breedon,

Kiera Brew Kurec 0:02
and you’re listening to Pro Prac a podcast where we explore the professional practice of artists and hear their stories.

Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us here today. We are happy to have in the studio with us today Steaphan Paton. Steaphan Paton is a Melbourne based artist, a member of the Gunai and Monaro Nations. He grew up in rural Victoria. His work explores colonialism, tradition, concepts of race and conflict. Influenced by his home country Gippsland and his experiences Paton uses painting, sculpture, installation and video to articulate his worldview. His work has been exhibited in major Australian art institutions including the Australian Centre of Contemporary Art, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and the National Gallery of Victoria. Paton is an alumnus of Primavera at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Next Wave festival and has received a City of Melbourne laneway commission in 2011. Paton was also an artist for the Forever Now project which projected works by signals into deep space through Cape Canaveral in Florida in the U.S. Paton’s work is represented in the collection at the National Gallery of Australia, as well as the National Gallery of Victoria, Museum, Victoria city of Darebin, Yarra City Council, Wellington Shire Council and the Brooklyn library in New York. Paton’s work is also held in private collections in both Australia and internationally. He is currently a studio resident at Gertrude Contemporary, thanks so much for being with us today.

Steaphan Paton 1:39
Thank you.

Nick Breedon 1:40
Thank you. So Steven, as always, we start off our first question, quite broadly, which is, how did you start off making art?

Steaphan Paton 1:53
Yeah, it’s, I guess, um, it’s one of those questions, what is the point that you become an artist or decided that you are an artist? I think it’s very hard to, to pinpoint that, that point in time. But I think, I guess, you know, I’ve always been making things and always had the influence from my family. So I come from a very strong cultural family. And we’ve been practicing our Aboriginal culture for forever. And I guess that, that takes a different form in, in, operating in in terms of like living in a town or in this in the city. As opposed to I guess, people’s maybe their preconceived ideas about what Aboriginal artists are Aboriginal culture. So I guess, for me, I always go back to cutting out boomerangs from my pops, so making boomerangs for him, he would get us to help him with his, in his workshop, or in his, in his shed, but also going up on country, and, you know, gathering the materials, and all of that sort of stuff is all part of it. So it’s sort of, yeah, I’m, I’ve grown into it, I suppose. Yeah.

Kiera Brew Kurec 3:28
A constant making

Steaphan Paton 3:31
Yeah. I guess the thing, when you become that, sort of, I don’t know, when it becomes like a job or something, or it’s like a career based sort of thing, as opposed to just a practice. There’s a lot of people that, that practice, art and cultural activities, being an Aboriginal person, but when you you step into being an artist, and having that title and being able to call yourself an artist, I think is very difficult for the artist, you know, the person who’s sort of this, this brooding, maybe, you know, wanting to make something or wanting to do something with themselves in terms of making objects and making things that point of calling yourself an artist is really difficult. When when you’re young, I guess.

Kiera Brew Kurec 4:33
it’s also like quite an external label that people put upon artists as well like you’ll be making and you know, that you make things but then it becomes someone goes oh, you make work or you’re and you’re an artist and it’s something that you have to either

Nick Breedon 4:49
contemporary artists to you know, that label so like yeah, some kind of finality or something about it. Oh, yeah. Was Is there a point for you in which you felt that there was that crossover between sort of just making or practicing and then sort of a more kind of formalizing of that sort of like process?

Steaphan Paton 5:09
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely, I think. So one of the things I really remember was, my sister used to work at the Koorie Heritage Trust when it was in Flinders lane. And our family’s got a lot of artists in our family. And so we’ve been sort of exhibiting as a family for for a while. And But yeah, I was part of the family exhibition that we had at the Koorie Heritage Trust, which then sort of, you know, you’ve got an exhibition. And so you can say, I’ve exhibited, so like, that’s, I guess that’s the point where, you know, because everyone always asks the, you say, you’re an artist, and people go, Well, where do you exhibit? Or what do you? What do you do? Or what do you make, and if you’re a young person, you kind of don’t you don’t – I haven’t exhibited, so am I an artist or not. And I think, also having access to the city and being able to, you know, go into the Koorie Heritage Trust and have that sort of a safe welcoming space that is around the arts, is really important, because it can be really intimidating for Aboriginal people to come in, to the institutions of Australia. And these other cultural places that are, that are sort of you, in the past been pretty intimidating places. Purely because there’s, there’s minimal or even no Aboriginal presence or art.

Kiera Brew Kurec 7:00
And can be exclusionary or conditional in terms of what they decide to show or support.

Steaphan Paton 7:07
Yeah. But that that has all changed. You know, a lot of people have worked very hard all over the country to make these changes, and everyone’s still working hard at it to make all these make further changes and keep, keep working at these things. And it is slowly changing. So it’s, it is getting better for some people. But yeah, I think that having that, that opportunity to go into the Koorie Heritage Trust, and just be able to hang out in there and talk to people and have those connections. And one of the things I was able to do as a young person was, I think it was 15 or 16. Just go over to the Nicholas Building and go and have a look around at peoples studios and my sister invited me to come and meet some artists, I can’t remember who it was some guy who had a studio in there, and yeah, went over and had a look. And you can kind of see sort of what you’re wanting to aim for or something. So you can you can understand maybe where you might head. You know, you need to have an exhibition. And you need to have a studio. That’s the two things that you need to just get started in terms of being professional about it, or having a professional practice. And then there’s Yeah, there’s different things once once you start, you’ve got to work at it. Yeah, I think that that was the point for me that really, I remember. And that really sort of resonated with my sense of where I wanted to head with my art practice.

Kiera Brew Kurec 9:17
So like, quite young as a teenager.

Steaphan Paton 9:20
Y Yeah. That’s the other thing like coming from the country. So I’m from Gippsland. And, specifically, like Latrobe Valley’s very industry kind of focus and so, like, the kind of jobs that most people have, they’re around that industry or, you know, nursing or teaching or something like something that’s kind of useful for the community or seen as useful, you know, so you kind of get almost railroaded or pushed into these things that are just a job or just a thing that you, you do. And for me, like, being a young person coming to the city, you can see that there’s actually more out there in the world and different jobs. And you can really, you can do whatever you want. If you set your mind to it, yeah, it sounds like a cliche (laughter). But it is true, you just got to work at it. And it’s, you do have to have that kind of Spark, though, that initial thing where you can have someone else kind of saying, this is the thing, and this is the thing, and you don’t have to, you don’t have to be a park ranger, or you don’t have to be, you know, nurse or, or a teacher or something that’s kind of this practical use or thing for the community.

Nick Breedon 11:01

Steaphan Paton 11:03
You can do other things that, you know, it’s sometimes people will see it as selfish, but I don’t, I don’t think it’s selfish. To do something that you’re happy with, like, not at all.

Kiera Brew Kurec 11:15
I think that’s a massive misconception. Like, yeah, I think that people should be doing exactly what they think is, is what they should be doing and making them happy. And, and it all serves a purpose.

Steaphan Paton 11:29
Yeah. Well, it’s important as well. And this is the other thing that, like, you know, I think, when everyone is doing those other things is sometimes these things can, can drop off and fall off. And they are really important, like culture is really, really, really important. And all the different parts of that need to be held up by everyone. And yeah, I guess, you know, Australia’s sort of previously been very homogeneous, in terms of like, the cultural landscape. And it’s, it’s really has changed in the last 10 years or more, in terms of what people are doing, and I think, yeah, it’s, it’s good to get out of your bubble, or get out of where you are to go traveling, and go and see other things and experience, the world and experience outside of your little community to, to see what other people are doing. And then maybe bring that back and bring some of those ideas of how the, you know, doing certain things, cultural things or other things bring that back in. You know, I don’t know like processes or programs or the way that they do things or other things. It’s an important job that, I think is also not not being taken up in it’s not understood well.

Nick Breedon 12:12
It is not given enough value.

Steaphan Paton 13:14
Yeah. You know, like, university, I went to university at Deakin. And I had this idea that I wanted to do environmental science and environmental management, because that’s what I’m into. I’m interested in that, but I sort of wanted to work in that area. But it wasn’t like my true, like, passion, I guess. I get more out of making things with my hands and, and having that connection, like that cultural connection. I get more out of that than, you know, a job for me.

Nick Breedon 13:55
Yeah I mean so the community I’m sure.

Kiera Brew Kurec 13:58
When you were studying, were you also exhibiting at the same time?

Steaphan Paton 14:03
No, so I, I was a sort of just painting in my bedroom. Yeah, just doing something, you know, sort of wasn’t thinking of art as a career or as a, you know, a sort of, like I said, before I was, I was, I had that there was that little spark in that thing of, maybe I could do this and maybe I could be that thing that I want to be and work in the area that I want to work in, but also have I don’t know for me doing something that’s, that’s meaningful and worthwhile.

Nick Breedon 14:44
So you did go on to study environmental science?

Steaphan Paton 14:49

Nick Breedon 14:50
So in did you end up completing that course?

Steaphan Paton 14:53
Yeah. So I did complete the course and ended up getting a job in that area. And working in that area. And I had sort of worked in it before. So kind of working on the side of sort of construction and around that industry stuff. But working more in like a cultural, archaeological sense. And I guess, seeing a lot of like destruction of cultural sites and our sites and objects and things like that sort of, that really had an impact on me as well, in terms of loss of culture, and a loss of cultural practice, and so that, that’s, that was a huge driver as well for me, pushing me in in that direction. But I still maintain this idea that I guess you needed to have a job, because you got to kind of be realistic about it, you can realistically sit in your bedroom painting for the rest of your life. You know it would be, great but yeah, it would be great life, you would be starving.

Kiera Brew Kurec 16:13
and you might not have a bedroom.

Steaphan Paton 16:16
Yeah, you need to pay for it somehow. Yeah, unfortunately, everyone uses money now. And, you know, that’s, that’s how it is. It’s not, we can’t change this system. And that’s, you just have to kind of fit in a little bit with that sort of stuff and and be practical about it. But you can still sort of believe in something else. But be practical about what you’re doing and make sure you’re eating

Nick Breedon 16:48
yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it’s quite interesting. The places we find ourselves to keep ourselves going as artists. So your work obviously, informed a lot of your practice going forward, when was it when you started kind of actually, sort of really pursuing that professionally, and like, kind of really developing that aspect of your practice? And exhibiting?

Steaphan Paton 17:18
yeah, I guess that so that whole exhibiting and I guess, having a career thing I was exhibiting first. So it was kind of this thing of I was an artist first, without the career or the money or other things. And yeah, I was happy with that. And so I think, you know, you’re kind of having a point where, where it switches, I think the point is actually, where you become an artist, and when you can tell people that you are professional artists, and then as everyone would know, as an artist, you kind of, you’re generally not paid very well. It’s there’s peaks and troughs, you know, feast or famine, everyone knows this, it’s kind of the way that it works. And you sort of, in a way you fit in with that, as well. So you kind of just go with however that works. But then you can still maintain your, your, you know, I don’t know your artistic brain or your creative brain, kind of keep that separate and safe from the money side of things and not get too tied up in this equals this because a lot of the time it doesn’t

Kiera Brew Kurec 18:53
Yeah, and that the, you know, the, I guess in so many other industries as well there you know, time you’re you know, time working in that industry or your experiences then reflected in your pay check that you take home each week, whereas in the arts, it’s so different and to kind of keep your practice safe by not allowing the what is coming in financially to make you feel like more or less valued by the community that surrounds you.

Nick Breedon 19:23
or yourself

Kiera Brew Kurec 19:23
Yeah and yourself. And that’s Yeah, it’s a really tricky thing that I think a lot of people really struggle with, especially early on in their career about how to get not let the what is coming in financially to dictate the validation or the importance of their practice.

Nick Breedon 19:40
You can like you can be at the most successful part of your career but like totally rock bottom financially. So there is this there is Yeah, and sort of being this kind of linear or exponential kind of growth of your kind of career and income often like you know, not in synchronicity.

Steaphan Paton 20:01
Yeah, absolutely. And that, that sort of thing, I guess, like, is very difficult for a lot of people as well. Because sometimes you do have to put on this, this facade of everything’s okay. I’m doing well and no, it’s fine. It’s kind of hard when you, you know, you’re like, oh, everything’s great. And then you look at your bank account and there is $2 in there you know, how am I gonna live off $2 for three weeks.

Kiera Brew Kurec 20:32
And sometimes also there is these expectations within kind of certain communities of the art world to kind of be present at different kind of events and functions. And then while you’re there present in certain ways, in terms of what you’re dressing like you’re drinking, if you’re not drinking, if you can, like buy rounds of drinks for people. And that’s another pressure that is kind of put upon you to have to not only be continuing your practice, and try to keep that alive, while also like housing yourself and clothing yourself, but then also to have a public presence as well within the community to be able to be like, show up for things. And that can be another strain that is, I think, sometimes overlooked. Like, yeah, that’s not always an easy thing to be doing. As well as then like standing around chatting to people at openings.

You’re currently at Gertrude contemporary in their new location, which has been there for like a year now. Did you move in just as they had moved spaces?

Steaphan Paton 21:40
I think so maybe six months after they had all set up and everything. Yeah, I moved in early last year. About this time last year. So I’ve been there a year now and sort of set up and yeah, trying to work on on projects and upcoming exhibitions.

Kiera Brew Kurec 22:05
Has that been a change in the kind of studio structure from where you were beforehand? Were you in a, like a studio complex before that? Or were you working from home? or What was your kind of arrangement?

Steaphan Paton 22:20
Yeah, so I’ve, I’ve sort of worked in different spaces and different areas. And I guess, yeah, the, you know, when you’re starting out, you’re always working. Either in, if you’ve got a back shed, if you’re lucky enough to have a back shed, you can work in there. But generally, it’s not really very good to work in. Or in your bedroom or in your spare room if you’re lucky enough to have a spare room. But yeah, generally. Yeah, sort of worked in various spaces, it’s kind of always feels like it’s on the side. Because of that thing, and what I was saying before about that, I guess the the money thing is, is always something that’s hanging over you and to have a separate space that is that you’re paying for and which Yeah, I’ve sort of worked up to that point. It’s very difficult to maintain that.

Nick Breedon 23:30
It’s a huge overhead. So have you found that it’s worked better for you to have your studio kind of connected to where you’re living or having it separate?

Steaphan Paton 23:44
Yeah, I’ve done both. I think it sort of just depends on your circumstances. Like I was saying before, you, you know, the, the peaks and the troughs, and sometimes you might find yourself having to work in your bedroom and purely because of your financial situation. And that’s, that’s fine. You accept that and you come into your bedroom. And that’s, that’s now your studio. You have to do that sort of stuff and work with what you’ve got. Yeah,

Nick Breedon 24:18
yeah. I feel like some people have answered that they, they actually prefer that kind of setup where they’re just like, literally in there art just all the time.

Steaphan Paton 24:26

Nick Breedon 24:27
And others find it kind of, you know, really challenging to switch off and some don’t want to switch off. So you know, it’s like a really interesting, kind of factor to consider when people are talking about like, how they make art and how they think about how they make and whether it’s a kind of ongoing kind of process. Maybe following on from that. What does a typical kind of day in the life of Steaphan or a week in the life of Steaphan look like? Can you give us a run through?

Steaphan Paton 24:59
So I guess lately, having a separate studio, it’s very different, you work in a very different way to if you’ve got it in your house or your bedroom or your back shed, you can’t just sort of roll out and go oh there’s the thing that I was working on, maybe I’ll work on that today or so you sort of have to have a routine, but not be so strict about it that you miss out on other things. Especially when opportunities come up. Because they can be all over the place, you sort of have to be available but not available. It’s very hard balance. So, yeah, I guess I like to work in intensive blocks. That’s, that’s my way of doing things. So I prefer to start something and sort of work on it and finish it. But yeah, I’ve recently I haven’t been able to do that. And I’m finding it a little bit frustrating.

Nick Breedon 26:18
Is that like a sort of days, weeks hours, kind of what’s the timeframe for that?

Steaphan Paton 26:23
Weeks. Yeah, so it might just work three, four weeks solid, even up to six weeks solid on two on one thing, or on a projects, upcoming exhibition. I find working that way you’re, you’re more focused on what it is that you’re actually doing. And you’re able to give more attention to the different parts and the different nuanced areas that you’re trying to work in, and I don’t know those expressions of what you’re actually doing. Yeah, I think people will just think that artists just sit around pushing paint around and, like, stuffing around all day and having coffees and, you know, just hanging out with rich people or something. I don’t know what people think. (laughter)

Kiera Brew Kurec 27:21
I think, definitely some people thing that.

Nick Breedon 27:24
I mean some people do do that.

Steaphan Paton 27:28
Yeah, it’s, yeah, they maybe they do. I don’t know. I’m not, you know, not really into that whole lifestyle thing of like sitting around and drinking champagne. Like, that’s, it’s nice occasionally. But you know like you can’t practically do that.

Nick Breedon 27:50
We have work to do.

Steaphan Paton 27:51
Yeah, exactly. You’re working all the time. I sort of have let go of the days as well. So the days don’t really mean much to me, in my practice. I think some people like to think about, you know, maybe I’m going to work on the weekend, or do this or that. And I do try to kind of treat it like a nine to five in terms of going in almost every day and trying to work that way. But yeah, I don’t. I’m not, you know, squeamish about going in on a Sunday or, or a Saturday or a Monday night at 11.30pm or whenever you have to go in there. You just go into it. There’s no rules about, you know, I don’t work on the weekend, or I think sometimes people get that kind of thinking stuck in their, their head. And it’s, it’s, yeah, it’s it’s one of those things, you know, depends how you think about what you’re doing.

Kiera Brew Kurec 29:02
I think if you’re kind of not working to a project, and rather just kind of going in and experimenting, or maybe just have a different kind of process, that maybe the day off, like scheduling a day off is necessary to like make a stop to be able to kind of start something else, if you kind of like have a different kind of setup and not project based but yeah. Do you find that after you’ve completed a project that you need some downtime or some processing time to kind of de steam or restart.

Steaphan Paton 29:43
yeah. Yeah, absolutely. You do have to take those opportunities and those breaks when you can. So you kind of can’t plan them. It’s sort of just a feeling of there’s nothing happening at the moment and you might take a day or two and go, I’m just gonna do nothing today. Because this is my day off, or this is my weekend in inverted commas.

Nick Breedon 30:13
Yeah. And you got to really grab it defended it.

Steaphan Paton 30:17
But you still you still always go back to art, you know, even when you’re at on the weekend, or maybe I’ll just go down to the NGV.

Kiera Brew Kurec 30:30
Well, it’s also your process of looking and understanding the world as well as through a lens that you have, you know, built up and created. And it’s, it’s kind of impossible to turn off, because you’re always viewing something and you’re always analysing and there is we’re surrounded in visual and audio world, and everything’s tactile, that we are constantly processing what’s around us. And I think it’s once you have become an artist, I don’t think you’ve ever really stopped because you’re always constantly thinking and processing using that part of your brain. So that might lead in nicely into what have been some of your biggest challenges that you’ve had to kind of overcome to continue your practice? Has there been anything significant or even small

Nick Breedon 31:19
but ongoing?

Steaphan Paton 31:21
yeah. I think one of the hardest things is sort of figuring out where you fit in a way because there are, I guess, the art world does like to categorize things and put people into boxes, and, you know, you’re this kind of artist, or you’re that kind of artist and yeah, I think trying not to get caught up in some of that fluff is is a bit is very difficult. You know, like, I don’t know, when I see things like someone is a, they start making stuff out of cardboard, and then all of a sudden, I’m a cardboard artist. Don’t do that (laughter) don’t don’t go down that path.

Nick Breedon 32:16
yeah. Don’t let anyone do it to you.

Steaphan Paton 32:18
Yeah. Yeah. Because it’s, yeah, I mean, you have to kind of understand what art is and do do all the reading and be interested in the history and what is art history, And what is world history, if you’re from a different cultural background What is that history, And how does that maybe play into what you’re doing right now, tradition in art is very strong, and you should be aware of that. You kind of need to follow some of those traditions and, and be part of that culture. But it’s, yeah, I mean, it’s hard for people to kind of get their head around what culture is and what art is. And I think sometimes people just wanted want the lifestyle, or they want the thing, or they want to be this or that. It’s kind of, you can do that, you can do that if you want. And you can go down that path and and be that but it’s sort of a, I see it as like a like what you said before, once you’re an artist, you’re always an artist. You’re not, you don’t switch off from that, you’re always thinking about things, you’re kind of drawing inspiration from everywhere, and anywhere. And it could, you know, could happen at any point as well. So it’s no, you can’t really plan it. You can’t sort of say this is it how you create an environment to create creativity or something, which is what all the arts workers and arts people who sort of trying to do.

Kiera Brew Kurec 34:17
kind of goes back to what you’re saying before about the flexibility, like you need to be open enough to, you know, be able to continue with something but also be aware that things could just happen at any time and that you need to be flexible within your practice in your day. Yeah, to allow for that to happen.

Steaphan Paton 34:37
Yeah, that sounds kind of cliche as well, like be just be flexible.

Kiera Brew Kurec 34:44
But we also don’t really live in a world that is very flexible, like we’ve got times, dates, like you know, we’re always told where to be at a certain time and things close and, you know, you have to kind of somewhat subscribe to what everyone else is doing. Even though you might need to go get some casting material at like 11 o’clock at night.

Nick Breedon 35:04
Bunnings isn’t 24 hours yet. (laughter)

Steaphan Paton 35:08
It will be eventually.

Nick Breedon 35:10
Hopefully, depending on which way you think about that is a good thing or a bad thing. Yeah, it does, it does subscribe a lot to society’s values as well about, you know, when when we should be allowed to do things, and when it’s an appropriate time to do this or that or whatever. And, you know, like, we still observe all these religious holidays that, you know, it’s like, so irrelevant to so many people in Australia, but it’s still like don’t try and do anything on Good Friday.

Kiera Brew Kurec 35:41
And even socially, when you’re amongst a group of people, often I find this hanging out with people who maybe might not all be artists, but when you are feeling like you need to go do something, or there’s an urgency that you feel, but you’re still required to be sitting at that dinner table or carrying out that conversation. And you’re like, I really just want to go over and like, think about that, or like, go go for a walk outside because I need some space to kind of process what’s happening.

Steaphan Paton 36:12

Kiera Brew Kurec 36:12
but you’re still meant to be, you know, functioning within this, like, you know, set up that we’re all meant to kind of like, go about social situations or whatever.

Nick Breedon 36:26
And weekends, People being available on weekends socially, that’s just like, totally abstract.

Kiera Brew Kurec 36:33
So what does it of being a practicing artist mean to you? And has that shifted over time? Or has it been something that you’ve always identified with? Yeah, does it change day to day?

Steaphan Paton 36:48
Yeah, I guess it’s also one of those things. That sometimes, like getting back to what you were saying before, it’s kind of in certain contexts. You know, maybe, like, a barbecue or something, you go to someone’s barbecue, or, you know, dinner or whatever. And there’s sort of always this conversation about, what do you do? What do you do? Like, it’s probably the most annoying question I’ve ever had in my life. Because, you know, not people don’t do one thing. And I think everyone’s sort of got multiple things that they do. And so it’s kind of a stupid question. And you really what they’re asking you is, what job do you do? And how much money do you earn? And am I better than you or whatever? You know, like, that’s, that’s what they’re trying to ask you. And it’s, I don’t know, I’m being very honest there with the way that some people think about that question. But, you know, I think people feel like maybe they have to ask that question as well. To validate the other person and make them feel welcome. Or, or whatever. So there is, I don’t know, it’s just a very annoying question for an artist because everyone’s interested in it. And so it’s kind of goes down this path of What kinds of things do you make? And, you know, how do you make them and then and then the ultimate question of how much money do you make? or How much is it worth? or How much do you spend on this? And it’s, it’s kind of these really prying questions you don’t want to talk about so you just tell people that you work for yourself or you know, I just do random jobs or leave me alone

Nick Breedon 38:46
peaks and troughs (laughter)

Kiera Brew Kurec 38:51
So yeah, I guess and again, you have that in certain situations, but then when you’re in other situations in the art world, you have to then present yourself again differently in terms of presenting your practice and you’re expected I think, we’ll hear in Melbourne from my experiences, there is a certain way that you need to present yourself and your practice for it to be heard about basically or seen. So yeah, it is that again, that thing of like in certain circles, you present yourself one way and say one thing and then another way you have to kind of pitch yourself or like yeah, show up .

Nick Breedon 39:32
like yeah, for me personally, it’s like a Christmas like my family are not artistic. I did not have an artistic sort of family. So presenting that sort of story and hearing yourself actually present that story is always quite interesting, because it’s like, for me, it’s always quantified by just heaps of activity. It’s just like I’m doing this this this this this this. and they are like Gosh, you’re very busy. It’s like Yes, I’m still broke though (laughter). So yeah, It’s like an interesting kind of Yeah. When the ways that you kind of quantify what what it is that you do, and two different kind of people in different groups and like your elevator pitch, depending on who you are pitching it to. I mean, it’s much the same in the art community really like people, you know, what, what have you got coming up is another big one that artists use to sort of speak to each other about what they’re doing. And you know, that can be I mean, that can be like, just like a devastating question If you’ve just finished something, and you don’t have something just like, lined up straightaway next. And you just you’re like, oh, what do I have coming up next? And then you like, ergh ergh stalling stalling- You know – And they’re just like, looking at you like, Oh, my gosh, like, I’ve just like, fallen into a hole of irrelevance now,

Steaphan Paton 40:48
Yeah, who are you?

Nick Breedon 40:50
Yeah. What are you even doing here?

Steaphan Paton 40:53
Yeah, are you a fraud, you’re a fraud aren’t you. (Laughter)

Kiera Brew Kurec 40:57
I feel like we should call this podcast like, you are not a fraud.

Nick Breedon 41:00
Or we are all frauds. So another question we find quite interesting is what has been one of the biggest resources that has assisted your practice, like people, family, friends, internet, organizations, you know, whatever it is, that have kind of pushed you on your way, or kind of given you kind of an ongoing sort of source of inspirational or life or, you know, help.

Steaphan Paton 41:28
I don’t know, I guess, for me, maybe like not thinking about things as a resource, maybe like, thinking of the thinking of how you interact with certain circles or the world and how you move and how you are and your being in the world, that that all comes from my Aboriginal background, and being an Aboriginal person operating sort of, under Australia, and within Australia, that’s been a huge driving kind of force, I think in terms of having something bigger than yourself, that you’re part of, and you know, talking about our issues and, and having that sort of long standing practice and tradition of cultural practice. And, and continuing that, and being able to continue that now, in this time, is, it’s sort of, like, an important thing for me to do for myself, but also, for the wider community as well. Like, in terms of what we were talking about, before, having someone seeing someone that can do it, seeing someone that is in that position, or doing a thing, whatever it is, you know, expanding people’s perception, and if you inspire one person, or, you know, a handful of people to, to break out of this idea of, I can only be one thing, or I can only do what everyone else tells me to do. And sort of, you know, inspire people to break out of that and look into themselves and know what they want to do. And, and know how they can help as well. So for Aboriginal people, being able to contribute to the community is something that’s really important for almost everyone, which is sort of different from, you know, the other people, which is very individualistic. You know, that’s getting back to that conversation before about, you know, that that barbecue conversation, the, the sort of micro competition of like, you know, what do you do, and, you know, essentially they’re trying to ask you, how much money do you earn and where do I see it, kind of in relation to the other person. But for me, I sort of don’t really think like that. It’s something that is always hanging because you’ve always got it there. But the end of the day like you’re here and you’ve got two hands and two feet, like, you know, you can do stuff. Whatever it is, you can, whatever it happens to you can kind of keep going. But yeah, I think having having someone doing it and having someone up there and having people as this thing that that young people can see is really, really, really important.

Nick Breedon 45:11

Steaphan Paton 45:12
I don’t know, I saw someone saying some quote, I’ve totally forgotten where it came from, but sort of be that person that you wanted to see when you were younger. Be Be the change or be that thing. Yeah, it’s it’s important. Yeah. It’s really important for, for people to have the option and to be able to see that, that it’s possible.

Kiera Brew Kurec 45:45
So do you have any advice that you would like to give anyone? Or if you could go back to your younger self and give yourself any advice about becoming a practicing artist Is there any advice that you would give?

Steaphan Paton 46:03
Yeah, be be resourceful. Yeah, I think people need to kind of be resourceful in in it in a given situation. So whatever is thrown at you, you kind of deal with that. And use what you can make the most of what you’ve got. And like I said, you’ve you’ve got two hands and two feet in the brain like, use them Don’t sit there kind of wallowing in, ah, I can’t do anything. Do something. Yeah.

Nick Breedon 46:47
So do you have anything coming up that you would like, our listeners to know about? Go and check out?

Steaphan Paton 46:56
I’ve got a show with the Gertrude Glass House That will be good. And yeah, I’ve got some other shows coming up over the year. But that’s the first one up.

Kiera Brew Kurec 47:12
And can people find you, Do you have an Instagram or Facebook?

Steaphan Paton 47:16
I have. I’m trying not to actually. Yeah. I’d rather not. You kind of have to. But I do have a website. So it’s, yeah, just

Kiera Brew Kurec 47:32
Great. we will link that below as well.

Steaphan Paton 47:36
And that is really just for people that are wanting to look at my art practice and what I’ve done, or what I’m maybe potentially doing, but like, I don’t really like putting my artwork out there on those platforms, and you know, this kind of digital thing that’s happening, or that has happened is, I think it’s affecting a lot of things in terms of like, what people see and how they, how they interact with art, and then what is the value in the meaning of it? They just, like, flick through all these things. Do people even need to go to your exhibition anymore? They just look at the images and say that they’ve seen it.

Nick Breedon 48:27
We should just photoshop them, it’s a lot cheaper (laughter)

Steaphan Paton 48:32
Yeah. Yeah, so I, I do you have a website, but there’s no images of like, there’s one image of my work. So yeah, it’s not like a catalogue or anything

Kiera Brew Kurec 48:44
yeah but there is a comprehensive bio and CV on there.

Nick Breedon 48:48
Yeah. Yeah. Well, you can see one of Steaphan Paton‘s work on his website. (laughter)

Kiera Brew Kurec 48:57
Great. And get along to Gertrude Glass House and check out the show

Steaphan Paton 49:01
Yeah. Come and experience the show.

Kiera Brew Kurec 49:05
Thank you so much for today.

Nick Breedon 49:06
Yeah thanks

Kiera Brew Kurec 49:06
Thanks for your time and for being so generous.

Steaphan Paton 49:09
Thank you.

Nick Breedon 49:18
This episode is recorded on the sovereign Land of the Kulin nation. We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land the Wurundjeri people and pay respects to elder’s past, present and emerging.

Kiera Brew Kurec 49:30
Thanks for listening to Pro Prac. You can listen to other episodes and subscribe to us on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can stay up to date with what we’re up to on Instagram @propracpodcast or send us an email at