Q&A with Sam Dollimore, recipient of the Friends of Pātaka 2016 artist residency.
PĀTAKA: Kia ora Sam, congratulations on your Pātaka Friends Art Award and residency, great to have you here. What impact do you think awards and residencies have on an artist’s practice?
SAM: For me, I think the biggest thing I’ve come away with is a bunch of exciting new relationships. It’s really wonderful to to have met so many new amazing people in my local art community. I actually feel more like I really am part of this community now, and the idea of working and showing my work is no longer so intimidating. I feel like, in my head at least, those doors (that I suppose were actually open all along) aren’t so scary to walk through now. And obviously a lovely boost in confidence, validation that the work I’m doing has something that others can respond to.
PĀTAKA: What’s your connection to Porirua?
SAM: I moved here around eight years ago, when I moved in with my partner. He already lived out here. We live in Titahi Bay with his two beautiful sons (half the time) and three silly chickens (all the time). I love it here.
PĀTAKA: What can you tell us a bit about the subject matter in the drawings you are currently working on? What made you choose this line of inquiry for your work?
SAM: I love bodies! I especially love the bits of bodies that aren’t so popular in our culture right now – the fleshy, dimply, soft, fat, wrinkly interesting bits. I’ve had to work quite hard to love my own body, and I think part of me quite enjoys the idea that the bodyparts I’ve been the most ashamed of are now big crazy artworks.
PĀTAKA: The drawings you’ve been working on look very labour intensive. Do you have a system or process that keeps you focussed and able to complete a work without causing yourself any permanent injury.
SAM: They are labour intensive… I do love a good challenge, and working for so long on one thing, especially because I’m never 100% sure how it’s going to turn out, is a great exercise in self-discipline and mindfulness for me. Which I must admit to struggling with at times. Maybe I have a funny little attachment to the archetypal tortured artist or something; I always seem to find myself undertaking work that relies heavily on those things that I most struggle with, like patience and mindfulness. Which isn’t always fun, but it’s satisfying afterward. I listen to audiobooks and/or music when I draw for the most part, but sometimes I really need to focus so I just work in silence. As far as my body goes, I’m slowly learning how to manage the drawing work so that I don’t repeat past injuries; I caused myself quite a lot of neck and back pain the last two years which took me months to recover from so I’ve hopefully learned my lession about when and how often to stop and when it’s time to go work on something else for a day or two. And I’ve taken up extreme yoga and learnt how to stretch properly and regularly.
PĀTAKA: Why pen and paper? OfficeMax must love you?
SAM: Yeah good question! I definitely have a love of craftsmanship, and also of art forms that have history and convention behind them. Is it too weird to say I’ve also always been a little obsessed with stationery? I think also I’ve been influenced by graphic novel art, the drama and intensity in comic book drawings is something that I think probably had a big part in this particular style of drawing and it seems to relate best on paper. Don’t tell OfficeMax, but I buy the pens off ebay because they’re more affordable and at this point in my career that’s something of an issue.
PĀTAKA: You’re currently working on your Masters and about to have your first solo exhibition at Toi Poneke in April, what challenges has this brought about?
SAM: Hmm – maybe ask me that again in April! I suppose regarding the show, I’m finding myself wondering a lot about what sort of thing, and how much, people might want to know about the work, and about me, and what might just be oversharing or off-putting to the public. Like how much is too much honesty. Doing Masters is a real challenge too, I’m having to constantly question my reasons behind what I’m doing, and then the reasons behind those reasons, and so on. An awful lot of navel gazing. Luckily I love my navel.
PĀTAKA: Your art practice encompasses other disciplines aside from drawing, can you tell us what these are and whether the subject differs from your drawings?
SAM: I also make short stop-motion videos – another art form that involves ridiculous amounts of patience and attention and drives me up the wall, but there’s just something about stop motion animation, I absolutely love it when I’m able to do it well. Lately I’ve been making looping gifs of hot monster ladies with too many feelings.
PĀTAKA: Lastly, one of those weekend supplement questions: If you could have any three people around for dinner and a natter, who would you choose and why?
SAM: Oh wow that’s a hard question. Um, David Bowie, Lemmy Kilmister and Alan Rickman. Because I was influenced by all of them and they all just died so they’ve been on my mind and I’d be really interested to hear them compare stories of life and death.
PĀTAKA: Ka pai Sam and good luck with your future art endeavours!
SAM: Thank you Pātaka, I’ll gratefully accept your offer of good luck.