So much has changed since our last conversation. Give us a little update on what’s new in the world of Will Coles.
I moved with my wife to southern Spain to get into Europe. Spain’s got some great cities for Street Art, like Valencia & Barcelona. I had to get over here to challenge myself, push myself, see more art. Once there I got to put up work in Italy, France, the UK & Germany. Hamburg clicked for me, I’ve met some great people that have become great mates.
Your works swing between political commentary and pop culture jest. With information overload now so freely available, is there a limit as to how much focus can be given to any one subject or do you simply allow the creative flow take you where it may.
I try not to get stuck on one subject but it was difficult with Trump! I think I did three or four pieces about him, it wasn’t just about him or the Republicans it’s about that information overload that is leading to a death of democracy. When the right wing control all the media then it’s almost impossible to get a real left wing party in or even get a balance in reporting . It’s no exaggeration to say that Murdoch plays the greatest role in deciding who leads the US, UK & Australia. Other times I try to do fun stuff but that’s not so easy for me, it’s so easy to do throwaway junk rather than something with a little more substance. I want my work to be confrontational, like the head of Franco I did not long after I got here. He ended up getting a lot of good publicity in Barcelona, the old hatred of Franco’s regime runs deep still there.
As you are now literally in what could be deemed as one of the leading international arts hub, why is this place such a drawcard for people such as yourself.
Everyone wants to check out London, Paris, & Berlin. It’s better to take your time. Everywhere has graff but you’ll find more Street Art in Lyon than Paris, in Hamburg than in Berlin, in Bristol than London. There’s also more acceptance of Street Art, or Urban Art as it’s more basically known, in Europe than in Sydney, Europe has much more in common with Melbourne in that sense. Places like Hamburg have about four or five galleries that specialise in Street/Urban Art. It gets respect there. Last time I looked up Sydney it still has none. Years ago I met a curator from the AGNSW & they told me it was better not to do Street Art as they don’t take it seriously (ironic considering Keith Hearing did a mural in their foyer in 1984!) The MCA has made a point of ignoring this art movement too. Sydney is way behind the rest of the world.
Human nature can be at best, trying, informative, uplifting and predictably disappointing. In your mind, how do cultural differences permeate the subconscious and is there a point where you simply have to stop, take a breath, reset and resume.
It’s kind of difficult at the moment. We should be dealing with climate change but a massive amount of people are still too selfish & dumb to even wear a mask or take a vaccine to stop a pandemic. The anti-science movement couldn’t have been predicted, if you’d told people in the 1950’s what people were like now it would sound like a shit sci-fi story. There are great people, great organisations & individuals, but there are huge faceless masses of fuckwits that are so easily lead by politicians & certain media whose only interest is increasing their own wealth at the expense of everyone else. I only did one covid related piece because so many of my experiences of dealing with people was often so negative. I’m just glad Spanish health care is so good & that the government was brave enough to do a total shut down right at the beginning – people before profit, as opposed to Binchicken who just does what the extremists of her party tell her to.
It’s best to just go to my local café, next to some huge mountains, slowly get drunk on ice cold beer, cognac & whisky (it’s so fuckn cheap here), watch the world go by, talk to friends or friendly people. It recharges the positivity, that’s where ideas can grow.
Longevity has always been one of the drawcards for streetart hunters/photographers: evoking a certain whimsy when stumbling across pieces that have been in place for an impressive amount of time. On a personal level, how does that impact you as not just an artist, but an individual.
It’s weird seeing so much stuff of mine that has survived 8, 10, even 15 years. The whole point of my stuff is it’s meant to age but rarely actually gets the chance to.
It’s tough for some people, they get demoralised by having their work constantly capped by vindictive fuckwits, or they’ve got a family they have to get a serious job for & don’t have time for their art any more. There are people out there that have been getting up for a decade or more, doing illegal pieces for no money. Here I see graff artists that will travel literally several hundred kms along the motorways or train lines to do pieces or throw-ups. Those are the champions of art.
As always, it has been absolute pleasure catching up with Will and The Incidental Photographer thanks him for taking the time to be part of her world albeit for a small moment.