Season Three – Sarah Poulgrain

Image credit: Charlie Hillhouse

Sarah Poulgrain

Season 3 – Episode 5


Book: Unlearning exercises:

Wreckers Artspace:


QLD spinners and weavers:

Instagram handle @sarahpoulgrain


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

00:00:01 Nick Breedon
And I’m Nick Breedon.

00:00:03 Kiera Brew Kurec
Welcome to Pro Prac

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

00:00:07 Kiera Brew Kurec
and hear their stories.

00:00:10 Nick Breedon
Sarah Poulgrain’s practice draws on self-sustainability and artist-led pedagogy to expand what art institutions can do, though they produce sculptures, their practice is primarily concerned with building and sustaining, respectful and non-hierarchical relationships. Sarah’s methodology often takes the form of learning a new skill. Usually through interest specific community groups documenting the process and reteaching the skill to others. Their practice aims to facilitate a model of knowledge sharing that disrupts power dynamics and prioritises vulnerability and trust. In the series of work ” a new set of new skills” Sarah has taught weaving, welding, chair, making, hat making, and aluminium casting with accompanying exhibition outcomes. Sarah is currently in the process of building a pontoon houseboat, a roof structure on a pontoon base that will serve as both an art space and a space for Sarah to live. This iterative project engages boat builders, lead light makers, contemporary artists, ecologists, and people currently living on houseboats.The aim of this project is to create a climate and gentrification resilient ARI for Brisbane experimental art, untying the contingency of art spaces on real estate rental markets.

00:01:25 Kiera Brew Kurec
Thank you so much, Sarah, for joining us on the podcast. We’re so happy to have you on.

00:01:31 Sarah Poulgrain
Thank you for asking me.

00:01:33 Kiera Brew Kurec
We’ll begin by asking you how you got to where you are today and some background on your practice?

00:01:42 Sarah Poulgrain
Well, I suppose I, well I work and practice on Yuggera and Turrbal land. grew up mostly in Brisbane. I was born just outside of Townsville, but yeah. Went to Queensland College of Art still practicing up here and, Yeah.

00:02:01 Nick Breedon
Great. That’s the abbreviated, much abbreviated version. Love it.

00:02:08 Sarah Poulgrain
Yeah, I dunno. So I suppose like, probably the most, like formative part of my arts practice coming up was, starting to rent a big old motorbike wreckers in like 2016 after I graduated with two friends from art school and yeah, I suppose that was probably the most formative part of my practice to date.

00:02:29 Nick Breedon
And was there something for you, as a young person that drew you towards creativity or creating, or making where you found yourself wanting to kind of pursue that more, professionally?

00:02:44 Sarah Poulgrain
Yeah. I’m not sure if there was ever really one specific moment. I think I grew up in a context where, like it’s never been so much about the art objects. For me, it’s more been about the group of people. So for me, when I was just leaving school, the decision to go to art school after that was more informed by like the type of people that I would meet there. And that aligning with kind of, how I felt as a young person and who I wanted to be around, and I had no real idea about the outcome. I kind of just went with it, it felt right when I was there. So I kind of put my like intention and like put my weight behind it a bit. Yeah. When I got into it, but like it, it was, yeah, it feels like a lot, like lots and lots of tiny steps rather than one turning point. Yeah. I don’t know. I suppose that’s come from it being like, like I grew up with my grandma as well as my mum and my dad. And my grandma was very like making stuff all the time. So I kind of was like around me a lot growing up. So it always felt like something that was permissible to do as well. So that’s pretty like. The context that I’m coming from.

00:04:00 Kiera Brew Kurec
When you, finished university and decided to make Wreckers a space and a reality, can you, talk us about where you were at that point in your practice, but also where you were in that point in, the community that you had already built and how wreckers came to be?

00:04:22 Sarah Poulgrain
Yeah. well, Wreckers was. So in 2016 or 17 or around then?

00:04:30 Nick Breedon
Yeah. Tell a story.

00:04:33 Sarah Poulgrain
Yeah, so it was me and Hailey Atkins and Anya Swan, and we, we went to, QCA together at different, different years, different times, but, well, those two are actually planning on renting a warehouse and I just, I just jumped on. I think at that time in my practice, I had shown on a few different ARIs I think probably the most, influential at that time was like, Success in Fremantle. Yeah. I don’t know if you heard that one, but they like rented a big, well, I don’t know, maybe they got it through council. I have an idea, but, it was a big department store level. It was just huge and very like, a group of people that were working together in a very efficient way that was like, Getting this really exciting project, off the ground for like a short period of time. So I think I was coming off the back of having a show at Success and these guys were planning on renting a, warehouse and I don’t know, I think the, it was like a very intensive building process. It was just very exciting for me. I think, like on the first. They, we, that we rented the place, we took out a flight of stairs and like replaced the floorboards. And I think I, it was like a very steep learning curve.

00:05:53 Nick Breedon

00:05:53 Sarah Poulgrain
For someone who I thought I was practical and I got into the place, I’m like, oh, I don’t know how to do anything. But it was like very and like a very steep learning curve. And it was like also a really pleasant experience. Pleasant’s not the right word. Like it was exciting to work with, my friends and learn from them and teach them. And it was that experience of that dynamic of working with people is something that has been like, hugely influential for me.

00:06:25 Kiera Brew Kurec
Did you have a kind of collective, clear vision of what Wreckers was going to be before you embarked on it, or was it something that has evolved over time and changed over the years?

00:06:37 Sarah Poulgrain
Yeah, I feel like it’s, definitely changing all the time. I think when we started out, I was pretty influenced by spaces like Front Yard and I think this might have been a little bit later, but I was reading that, Casco book, unlearning Exercises, for organisations, I can’t remember the title, but, structures like that, which were like, aiming to be non-hierarchical. Yeah. Or like organisational structures that valued invisible labor that goes into the maintenance of the space. Yeah. That was something that was very important to me. Yeah. but yeah, I’ve kind of stopped so I’m not, doing the Wreckers gallery at the moment I’m still living in the building and doing some very occasional ones upstairs, but, I’m, I’m, yeah, doing all the maintenance space maintenance,

00:07:28 Nick Breedon
yeah. Yeah. It requires so much caretaking that space.

00:07:31 Kiera Brew Kurec
For those listening who are not aware of what Wreckers is, could you give us a rundown of the space and what the different spaces actually facilitate?

00:07:42 Sarah Poulgrain
Sure. That’s good. So it is a two and a half level, formally motorbike wreckers building. So there’s one maybe four by four meter shopfront gallery that’s run by a group of seven or eight people, all volunteers. Then keeping on going. In the downstairs there’s a workshop that we sublet, which is like, beautiful woodworker workshop. I’ve got a bit of a welding studio back there. If you go up the stairs, there’s three residents who live there and they pay for the rent of the space so that, all the other uses of the space are free. So yeah, it doesn’t charge other people. So I think I’ve lived, yeah. Yeah. So when we were doing the renovations, we like built the kitchen. We went without hot water for like three years, which was kind of actually really nice. But, so yeah, there’s three bedrooms and a bit of a like, living space kitchen. And then up the back is like a large installation space, . That we’ve kind of used on a project by project, kind of case, case by case basis. yeah, so there’s been, we’ve just had, what have we had? I don’t know. We’ve had a couple people come in, do film sets. If someone has a big project in Brisbane and they need a large studio space they just use it for a little time then. Yeah. Yeah. I, it’s been,

00:09:18 Nick Breedon
yeah, I believe I saw a music, event when I was in Brisbane, in that back space. It was quite magical.

00:09:27 Sarah Poulgrain
Yeah. Forgot about that. Yes. yeah, we’ve only had one music event. Yeah.

00:09:33 Kiera Brew Kurec
That was it.

00:09:34 Sarah Poulgrain
Yeah, that was it.

00:09:35 Nick Breedon
That was, it was great. It was grand.

00:09:37 Kiera Brew Kurec
given that like your idea of going to art school was, really based in surrounding yourself with like-minded people and people of interest. Do you think that, this is probably a very obvious question, but, situating yourself and living in an environment where you are constantly surrounded by artists has assisted in you continuing your practice.

00:10:02 Sarah Poulgrain
Mm-hmm. Yeah, totally. I think, Yeah. For me that is the benefit. Like there are a lot of challenging things about living in the space and for me the benefit that is being around that community of people and being a part of like, like I feel like I’m forcing myself to be a part of things ’cause I find it quite difficult to like, go to opening events and stuff. Sometimes I just get really lazy, like, but in this way I’ve kind of force myself to be a part of that context that I know that I care about.

00:10:36 Nick Breedon
Mm. so make it come to you.

00:10:38 Sarah Poulgrain
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

00:10:41 Kiera Brew Kurec
On that would you mind, highlighting to us some of the challenges that you have had to overcome to continue your practice?

00:10:51 Sarah Poulgrain
Yeah. Well, well, I suppose in trying to like continue my practice, I feel like, Well, at the moment I’m kind of being, I’m kind of trying to do a couple of large projects at the moment. one of them is building a houseboat. Yeah. So the challenges with that at the moment are just kind of the scale of it. And like I’m aware that at the core of my practice is this like giving and, and receiving and attention to relationships and care that I don’t wanna lose priority of that as the scale of the project is getting bigger. So like, I don’t wanna be one of those artists who uses like all the energy and time of the people around them, but reaps all the benefits for themselves. If that makes sense. If that’s not too bitchy, but like, like I wanna kind of keep a balance of the scale of my practice, and like, keep. I don’t know how to phrase it.

00:11:45 Nick Breedon
well, I’m sure, I’m sure all these people, once your houseboat is finished, are gonna be hitting you up for . You know, holiday, you know, summers on the houseboat.

00:11:53 Sarah Poulgrain
Yeah. Well, like half of it will be, the aim of half of it is to be like a gallery. So that it can continue doing experimental stuff, that it’s not reliant on like the real estate context and like it’s not gonna continually get flooded. Yes. I suppose the flooding has been a massive challenge for the practice as well.

00:12:11 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yes. yeah. Anyone who follows you on Instagram or is just aware of anything that’s happened on the, East Coast of Australia over the past 18 months or so? will, be aware of the flooding, but Wreckers got hit pretty hard in one of those, lots of floods and, yeah.

00:12:30 Sarah Poulgrain
Yeah. I think like, so we end up, I think in the time that I’ve had, I’ve been here, we’ve had like maybe three floods that are about crutch height.

00:12:41 Kiera Brew Kurec

00:12:41 Nick Breedon

00:12:41 Sarah Poulgrain
And about about 10 that are shin height. Like shin deep. Yeah. So like, it’s, it’s really regular and it’s like Wreckers is built on a floodplain. Like there just shouldn’t be buildings in like, the wetlands. Like it should be wetlands but, I think aiming like the aim of the houseboat is to kind of like, maybe slightly unpick, popularised view of like survivalist things that are more like libertarian survivalist like very individualistic and be more of a like collectivised response to these climate threats. A little bit. Yeah. Yeah.

00:13:23 Nick Breedon
Yeah. yeah, I, I suppose that’s a, an area of interest of my own, that, you know, that you can kind of turn or, you know, your focus away from, from this, idea of being able to kind of overcome these things by yourself or with your own ingenuity, but actually to work, to work, to work towards, you know, collective care together. Yeah, yeah. Yep.

00:13:51 Sarah Poulgrain
Totally. Like there’s a part of, yeah, I think there’s a nice, well there can be a nice overlap between DIY and like self-sufficiency, like, but putting that into an ethical framework of like community resilience is the aim. I don’t know. I feel like, yeah. Yeah. I don’t know.

00:14:07 Nick Breedon
It’s like this, we seem to be in this moment, What I, what I’ve noticed in the last, you know, maybe 10 or 15 years of practicing as well, that this, we have often returned to, this apocalyptic vision. you know, many artists have kind of incorporated that in, in their work, and I, I do feel like that kind of, aesthetic of self-reliance and that libertarian idea of self-sufficiency it, it’s really become so connected, in the last couple of years, particularly with like a conservative, ideology. And I think, I think that, artists seem to be kind of pushing away from that initial idea of, yeah, the, the self-sufficient, like the, the weapon or the mm-hmm. You know, this post-apocalyptic, Aesthetic that was very prevalent in the sort of, late naughties.

00:15:00 Sarah Poulgrain
Mm-hmm. Yeah. Absolutely.

00:15:03 Nick Breedon
Yeah. And, and is now like, yeah, I think, I think, there’s been a sense of maturity, I think within at least Australian, arts, practitioners, that we all seem to be realising that we can’t just do this together and particularly our understanding of climate change has become much more mature as well as, so yeah, we are, we’re all kind of figuring out these amazing, you know, ideas that we can overcome these challenges together and the houseboat sounds incredibly exciting. Can you tell us a little bit more about where, where it’s gonna go, what your vision is for the houseboat?

00:15:43 Sarah Poulgrain
I. I have no idea where it’s gonna go.

00:15:47 Nick Breedon
Just straight into the river,

00:15:50 Sarah Poulgrain
or hopefully the flood will come and just like take it away.

00:15:53 Nick Breedon
Just lift it off. Yeah. If you just wait patiently enough.

00:15:56 Sarah Poulgrain
Yeah, I haven’t locked down a place to put it, but, I have a few friends who have live on houseboats on Norman Creek. I’ve been talking a little bit to them. So maybe there’re maybe somewhere else. I should, I should figure that out.

00:16:09 Nick Breedon
Yeah, yeah. No, just, you know, find the solution first. I, I, I like that approach. is there, have you come across any like restriction with, Your, you know, ability to have the houseboat in certain rivers or waterways. Is there like, laws or permits that you need to kind of be aware of in terms of, you know, probably birthing, I suppose, or, long term?

00:16:33 Sarah Poulgrain
Yeah, there’s a couple. I think Brisbane’s actually kind of okay for it. Sydney’s Really

00:16:38 Nick Breedon
yeah. Don’t come here. Don’t come here.

00:16:39 Sarah Poulgrain
Yeah, I think it has to be like under 15 meters, which I can do. I can do that.

00:16:44 Nick Breedon
Yeah. And it’s not that big.

00:16:45 Sarah Poulgrain
And like you’ve got a registration. Yeah, yeah. like a registration thing. And I think I, there’s probably, ’cause I’m, I’m welding all of the structural bits myself, which I’m like, I might have to get that checked out and like given a tick. But I think it’ll be fine, to be honest. I, I feel like there’s heaps are like fast and loose quotes up here. I think, but I should, I, I’ve done a little bit of research, but I’ve given up as well.

00:17:15 Nick Breedon
Yeah. Great. Just gotta get on with it.

00:17:18 Sarah Poulgrain
Yeah. Yeah.

00:17:19 Nick Breedon
Would you mind just, outlining for us a little bit about what a successful practice means or feels like to you?

00:17:29 Sarah Poulgrain
Yeah. I feel like this was, this maybe took me like a quite a while to come to because I feel like, I went quite a while outside of art school showing at ARI’s and like wondering, like feeling a little bit like, oh, do I need institutional support? I would really like it, and then feeling a bit weird that I didn’t have it. And then eventually I’ve like gotten some and it’s been great, but I think for me, having a successful practice is like a practice that feels self-sustaining, that I’m able to keep doing with or without institutional support. So something that feels more emotionally sustainable or like environmentally sustainable, but like, I don’t know. Something about having a way to value my arts practice that isn’t like looking for external validation from an institution or a commercial like commercial success. Not that I’ve ever had that. yeah, I make very work that’s not saleable at all. But, yeah, I would wanna be able to keep making art whether or not it’s in these big institutional shows. And for me, like something that feels good is what I would call successful, I think, probably to my own detriment. That’s, meant like changing what it’s looked like and like, anytime I get too comfortable, so like I learn how to do something and then I do it, and then I immediately change. So the outcomes, like the sculptural outcomes of my practice are very variable. And sometimes that’s probably meant a few less, like hooks for, for like curators or audiences to like access the work, which is probably, should, probably shouldn’t have done that, but like that, that’s always felt more true to what I want to be doing, if that makes sense. Yeah, yeah.

00:19:19 Nick Breedon
Yeah. I think, you know, as someone who has followed your practice, a little bit for a while, I think, I certainly see a similarity with our practices where you are, quite often following an interest or something new that you find interesting and you want to learn more about, and you do that by practicing, and incorporating that into new work. And then, you know, yeah. And then, and then that kind of becomes part of your, you know, skillset, that you then incorporate into new things, building on new things all the time. So, you know, you can definitely see that work, of Wreckers. You know that that first time you pulled down the stairwell and didn’t know what the hell you were doing, and now you are basically welding a vessel and a, a, a home all in one. which I think, you know, is probably quite a huge leap in terms of, skill.

00:20:12 Sarah Poulgrain
Well, we’ll see. It might just be a really public failure, you know? It could go either way.

00:20:17 Nick Breedon
And that’s the art.

00:20:19 Sarah Poulgrain

00:20:21 Kiera Brew Kurec
Sarah could you give us a rundown of what your practice looks like? Like a day, a week, or a month?

00:20:27 Nick Breedon
Can you be, can you be very granular? Very granular.

00:20:31 Sarah Poulgrain
I can be granular. What’s that? I might be really misusing this term, but is it like thick description?

00:20:38 Nick Breedon
Ooh, never heard that one before.

00:20:39 Sarah Poulgrain
I think. Yeah, I’ll look up what it means. Yeah so, I’ve kind of worked three days of the week for the last like seven years and I’ve been like very lucky that I’ve, I think, well, Brisbane’s getting a bit more expensive now, but, I’ve been able to afford rent and like, I mean, I’m still in living with other people in a share house but yeah, three days a week is enough for me to pay, rent and feed myself. So, mm, the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday I go to work. maybe one day of the week. At the moment, I’m, I’m on a bit of a hectic schedule. With like some upcoming houseboat deadlines and a few other things, but, so maybe one of those days off I’ll be meeting with someone else to do a chunk of work on a project together for the boat. at the moment I’m working with, Anya Swan and Hailey Atkins making some paper pulp walls. I am about to go on a residency, Georgia Morgan, who’s up here renting it, like not renting, but just using Wreckers as a studio, we’re gonna be making some things. I’ve got some, Making some tiles for the bathroom.

00:21:58 Nick Breedon
Wow. Nice.

00:21:58 Sarah Poulgrain
And the grey water system with, Tyza Hart and Brie Myers. And making a film.

00:22:04 Nick Breedon
Is that, is that the very interesting plumbing like, or like a pipe, like structures I’m seeing on Tyza’s Instagram.

00:22:12 Sarah Poulgrain
Oh, I haven’t seen them. Oh no, that’s just Tyza’s beautiful ceramics.

00:22:16 Nick Breedon
That’s just Tyza’s amazing work. Yeah. Perfect.

00:22:20 Sarah Poulgrain
They’re great. Yeah, I don’t know. So I’ve got like a lot of collaborations, so usually it’s one of the weeks I’m working on one of them with another person. Yeah, I feel like I’m functional from like 6:00 AM to about one. Then I just sit down for the rest of the day.

00:22:40 Kiera Brew Kurec
Can relate.

00:22:41 Sarah Poulgrain
And then like, maybe I’ll get another burst of energy at like 6:00 PM Yep.

00:22:45 Nick Breedon
And do you find, and then do you find in your kind of downtime, you know, that, that, that time of needing to sit down. Is that a time that you might also do something like send some emails or kind of attend to some admin or some, house maintenance or,

00:23:03 Sarah Poulgrain
oh my God, there’s endless amount of house maintenance and email admin. I feel like I, I’m trying to be like, I’m trying to be really quick with it all and not stew on it. ’cause I feel like I can either get in this mode where it feels really huge and it takes me a long time to get through it all. Or I can just be like done immediately. But yeah, the at like, at the moment, the hot water system’s leaking and I’m just like pretending it’s not there.

00:23:30 Nick Breedon
Just remember the before times.

00:23:32 Sarah Poulgrain
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So there’s like, yeah, there’s an endless amount of hours work. Like, yeah. And yeah, I try and have one day of the week at the moment, which to me is not enough, but one day where I’m just like resting and not doing anything. Yeah but I would like more than that.

00:23:57 Nick Breedon
Yeah. Do, do you find that difficult to give yourself that time or you are finding like it’s, it’s not enough and you, you, I. You are happy to take it and you just want more, or you’re finding it like you have to give yourself that time to rest, but you know that you need more and you, so you’re forcing yourself to take that time for rest.

00:24:18 Sarah Poulgrain
I’ve kind of been like, I think I’ve been quite anxious about some of the bigger parts of the project and the time resting has it my body has taken it itself. Yeah. Whether I’ve like, wanted it or not,

00:24:31 Nick Breedon
it’s like sit down.

00:24:32 Sarah Poulgrain
But like, yeah, it has sat me down. So yeah, I like, I, yeah, I think I went maybe four weeks where I wasn’t giving myself any rest and then I just kind of crashed. . So like, getting that balance right of like trying to chip away at a project that’s big and feels overwhelming, but also you know? Not doing it to the detriment of my health or to the people around me or to like, you know, the things that I value and wanna prioritize. Yeah.

00:25:04 Nick Breedon
So you have to pay, it’s like a bank, you know, you have to, you have to pay back the loan eventually and Yeah. With interest and then, yeah, and then it’s really,

00:25:16 Sarah Poulgrain
That was a lot of interest. Yeah, at the moment I’ve been pretty right at just having like one full day of resting and that’s felt, yeah, pretty, pretty all right. Mm-hmm.

00:25:31 Nick Breedon
What do your, what do your rest days typically look like? Are you sort of just like a horizontal, or do you find yourself kind of, you know, meeting up with people or? Is there dog? dog walking involved?

00:25:44 Sarah Poulgrain
Yeah. Yeah. Pretty horizontal. I do, yeah maybe I see people. I, I’m pretty like, Yeah, I do need like a little recharge from being around people. Mm-hmm. So like a nice quiet space. Yeah. Walking dog. Great. Swimming excellent. But, you know, sometimes swimming’s just like a little bit too far. So today it’s been thoroughly home-based.

00:26:10 Nick Breedon
Mm-hmm. It’s that, balance of, you know, I’m, I’m sure it sounds like your work at the moment. Particularly is quite physical and yeah, taking that take doing, you know, swimming can be really great too ’cause it, you know, can help stretch, your arms and work out your shoulders and stuff in ways that is helps to balance the kind of work that you do, which is all in the front of your body and stuff. But also it’s like more work.

00:26:35 Sarah Poulgrain
Yeah, absolutely.

00:26:37 Nick Breedon
Yeah. You’re like, I need to do it to feel good, but also I need to not do it to feel good.

00:26:42 Sarah Poulgrain
Yeah. I remember I used to, I used to go to the gym and someone approached me in the gym and said that I had posture like a turtle. Ah. I’m like, oh, great I’m going to the pool. But you know, it. He wasn’t wrong.

00:27:00 Nick Breedon
Yeah. I, I feel like I need to do like a lifetime of just, you know, all, all back, no chest. Just to, just to even things out a little.

00:27:10 Sarah Poulgrain
Yeah. Totally.

00:27:11 Nick Breedon
Mm-hmm. Would you mind sharing with us, what some of the, the best, resources that you’ve had access to in your practice have looked like?

00:27:20 Sarah Poulgrain
Well, lemme have a think. I’m just gonna quickly look at my library.

00:27:27 Nick Breedon
Are you, are you someone like when you learn to do, when you learn to kind of, When you learn new skills is what I’m trying to ask. Geez. Do you typically turn to, like YouTube or the internet or that weird old blogs or books or the library? Like what’s your kind of main go-to place of like how to. How to pull down stairwell. DIY

00:27:56 Sarah Poulgrain
Yeah, that’s excellent. Yeah, I usually learn the skills that I’m interested in, either from YouTube, which is like, Excellent. Some very niche Facebook groups. Or I go physically if I can to like a community group that specialises like a special interest community group.

00:28:16 Kiera Brew Kurec
Oh, fantastic.

00:28:17 Sarah Poulgrain
For spinners and weavers type thing.

00:28:21 Kiera Brew Kurec
Are they a guild? I feel like Spinner.

00:28:23 Nick Breedon
Yeah. I think that’s the Victorian Is the spinners in spinners in Weavers Guild. Guild in Victoria.

00:28:28 Sarah Poulgrain
Yep. Oh yeah. The one in, There’s one in Auchenflower that is incredibly cute. It’s like they’re very generous. I, I went, I learned weaving off, someone called Elaine up there who like spent like maybe two eight hour days teaching me how to do this. Like, went for a trip to Bunnings to like, help me get some things like incredibly generous with time and space. Like beautiful. Yeah. Beautiful organisation, beautiful people. So yeah, there’s like heaps of community specific groups for like learning craft and stuff like that.

00:29:05 Nick Breedon
Yep. Is there any, is there, is there any other ones that you’ve kind of, hit up?

00:29:11 Sarah Poulgrain
I learned, how aluminium casting off someone via Zoom. I think they’re in Melbourne actually which was, I think it was like mid pandemic. Yeah. And so it was, yeah, it was great.

00:29:24 Nick Breedon
That’s gotta be one of the weirdest zoom things

00:29:27 Sarah Poulgrain
it was weird. He did like a little demonstration and like, ran through everything and . I’m just like, Yeah, it was kind of scary to do it on my own for the first time. Apart from that, there’s like a tool library up here. I feel like they’re great. But, I have a pretty, I’m pretty very lucky in that like the woodworker who sublets the downstairs has a lot of tools. I’ve been able to like write into any grant outcome or something that I need to buy that tool with . So I end up having tools from having exhibition outcomes. Yes. So, that’s been pretty helpful for me to like accumulate.

00:30:04 Nick Breedon
That’s a really good tip, actually. That’s a great tip. I

00:30:06 Sarah Poulgrain
I feel like some of them like, say that you’re not supposed to do that, but I just, you know. Yeah.

00:30:12 Nick Breedon
Some of them you, you, you certainly can though, and especially if it’s like one specific, you know, tool, and especially when hiring the tool can be more expensive than just buying it outright. Often you can kind of work that in and obviously you can’t be like, yeah, oh, I buy a whole workshop full of tools in for one exhibition. But yeah, I, I certainly have, you know, picked up a few bits and pieces along the way, which has been really helpful. That’s such a good tip.

00:30:40 Sarah Poulgrain
Mm, totally. Mm. That and a couple of like, really, I mean this is just what I like, but like really niche, libraries like that are like, I suppose front yard, front yard library. But there’s one in New Zealand re called RM or room. Ah, yeah. But they have a beautiful. Archive of like all the ARI shows I’ve put on and it’s like nice resources like that I’ve found have been generative, like in an exciting way. Like they’re like, oh my God, this cool, this cool thing happened here. It feels really good to see stuff like that be valued. So that’s been, yeah, I’m not sure what else.

00:31:23 Nick Breedon
Yeah. Do you, do you get much into eBooks.

00:31:28 Sarah Poulgrain
eBooks. Yeah. I like audio. I like people, reading to me. But I have actually, my friend Leen has been, I’ve been listening to their PhD chapters, audiobooks, and it’s been Leen’s very smart. It’s been very, that’s been very lovely. Yeah, I think that might be a, something that they mm-hmm. Make available as well?

00:31:51 Nick Breedon
Yeah, I think so. Yeah. Cool. Yeah. Yeah, certainly I have downloaded many, many, definitely not pirated pdf. Mm-hmm. PDFs of, of eBooks online.

00:32:04 Sarah Poulgrain
Oh yeah. Have you found any ebooks?

00:32:07 Nick Breedon
Well, I’ve, I think I actually shared that with you, was,. I, I’ve built up a, a good library of, fantastic casting books over time. Yeah, which has been really great. It’s a good resource. But, you know,

00:32:18 Sarah Poulgrain
that was an amazing resource that was like, got me really excited about all the, oxidising.

00:32:23 Kiera Brew Kurec
Mm. We’ve often found that like in small country towns is where in the op shops is where you find the really good,

00:32:34 Nick Breedon
oh, the technical kind of

00:32:35 Kiera Brew Kurec
technical books that are from the kind of seventies of, you know, Joe in his backyard and yeah,

00:32:44 Nick Breedon
like small machining.

00:32:45 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah. And the very, very, be very detailed. Yeah. Fantastic.

00:32:50 Sarah Poulgrain
Yeah. I love that. Like Joe in his backyard has spent 15 years doing this. One type of woodworking

00:32:59 Nick Breedon
and someone, someone, you let him write a book. Yeah, publish it. It’s amazing.

00:33:04 Kiera Brew Kurec
Any anyone who has worked in with, Lead lighting, glass or slumping glass would be like aware of these two really famous books. About, I think they’re called like Lead Light, I think it’s just called Lead Light or something like that. But you’ll, no, no. Lead Light two title. And they, they’re, they were made in Portland, Oregon and they’ve got these most like, gorgeous photos of everyone working in the studio. And, this collective and. I didn’t know this until I was just doing, some slumping with someone recently and, found out that that group of artists that published those books then like split off and created Bullseye and Spectrum Glass. And if anyone who’s like worked with Glass before, they’ll know both of them. But they are competitors because they had like a, a disagreement between within their organisation and kind of commune that they were running.

00:34:00 Nick Breedon
Huge rift.

00:34:01 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah. And then split and then they made two competitive glass. And then, and to this day, they’re the two main competitive glass suppliers across the world

00:34:11 Sarah Poulgrain
I didn’t know that, that is a high drama.

00:34:14 Nick Breedon
I dunno, they have a slightly different approach. Like, ’cause they disagreed on a particular technique or like a way that it should

00:34:20 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yes. And I forgot what this is, but anyone who, like anyone who’s into glass will probably know this. But when, when I found that out

00:34:26 Nick Breedon
Yelling into the phone right now

00:34:27 Kiera Brew Kurec
yeah. It was amazing. And these books, like, you’ll come across ’em at some stage. We found some in a, In an op shop near Jervis Bay, and they’re, they’re worth like over a hundred dollars retail now.

00:34:39 Nick Breedon
And you told not to buy them. And they were $5 each and now they’re mine.

00:34:46 Kiera Brew Kurec
They’re beautiful books. But the photos in them are fantastic. And the dedication at the beginning are, you know, something like to Joy who typed these up on the typewriter. .

00:34:56 Sarah Poulgrain
Oh my God, that’s adorable.

00:34:57 Nick Breedon
Always those, the lovely images of like, just. Zero p p e zero safety. Like they’re, they’re, they’re working on glass and there’s like a, you know, a huge mound of just like, petrol soaked rags right behind them or whatever. It’s like, oh my God, the terror.

00:35:16 Sarah Poulgrain
Oh yeah. That’s intense. I didn’t know that about the, glass companies.

00:35:22 Kiera Brew Kurec
Yeah. Yeah. I’ll find out what, what the difference was. Um hmm. And let you know, but it is, yeah. Because I had seen Spectrum, I had seen Bullseye everywhere and had no idea that they were the same people in the books that I were reading.

00:35:39 Nick Breedon
So, so much drama.

00:35:40 Kiera Brew Kurec
So yeah, it’s like very like Glasss Goss. Yeah.

00:35:45 Nick Breedon
So, if you, if you had some advice, for yourself, As a younger artist, you know, maybe when you were just starting out or maybe even younger, what advice would you have given yourself?

00:35:58 Sarah Poulgrain
Probably to like, find my people and hold onto them a little bit. Yeah. ’cause I feel like the thing that, makes it sustainable for me is the relationships with people if that’s not too like a generic an answer, but, it’s the people that are around me that make it feel like I can keep doing it. So, and make it feel exciting and like pleasurable to do. Yeah. So, I feel like there’s something really affirming about being around people who, where you can be yourself and feel seen and like, Very accepted and loved for Yeah. Finding the people who get that feeling and holding onto them.

00:36:38 Nick Breedon
Yes. Well, I can, I can certainly say that as, as someone who has been so, Privilege to come and work doing some casting at Wreckers last year that, that was certainly my experience of, of being around, you know, that that community. I was very lucky to meet so many people that, you know, there was some exhibitions that were, on when I was there and just meeting, you know, the people that were staying there and just around wreckers it is, you know, you have really built this amazing, community of people that, that are very like-minded and, and yeah. Similarly I felt very, very much myself when I was there and it felt very, fun and affirming and just good times all around. A lot of people who just wanna make cool stuff, have cool chats and hang out.It’s, it was, you know, definitely a big highlight of mine in my own making practice.

00:37:33 Sarah Poulgrain
That is really good to hear because it was really fun having you. . And you should come up again soon. Oh yeah. I should come and, come and give your a hand with the houseboat. Yeah. Oh my God, please. But yeah, no, it is, I think we’ve got two people up here at the moment and it’s like, it’s just really, it’s nice. It’s nice having people around.

00:37:52 Nick Breedon
Yeah. Yeah. I would definitely advise to anyone, you know, if you are, if you do find yourself in Brisbane, do go over to wreckers and say hi and introduce yourself. ’cause yeah, some of the best people,

00:38:07 Sarah Poulgrain
ah, please do.

00:38:09 Kiera Brew Kurec
Thank you so much, Sarah, for spending your afternoon speaking with us today. We really appreciate having you on the show and sharing your story.

00:38:17 Nick Breedon
Yeah, thank you.

00:38:18 Sarah Poulgrain
Oh, thank you. Thank you for asking me. It’s lovely to talk to you both.

00:38:24 Nick Breedon
This episode was recorded on the sovereign lands of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to the traditional custodians, the Gadigal and Bidjigal people, and pay respects to elders past, present, and emerging. We extend this acknowledgement to the traditional custodians of the lands and waters that this podcast reaches you on today. Our intro music is created by Evelyn Ida Morris.

00:38:48 Kiera Brew Kurec
This season Pro Prac was generously supported by the Australia Council for the Arts New Project Grant.

00:38:56 Nick Breedon
Thanks for listening to Pro Prac. You can listen to other episodes and subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can stay up to date with what we’re up to on Instagram at Pro Prac Podcast or send us an email at Pro Prac