Art School Days/ Was Called College of Fine Arts and Now is UNSW Art and Design

Essay by Luke Foster

“Let’s talk of a system that transforms all the social organisms into a work of art, in which the entire process of work is included… something in which the principle of production and consumption takes on a form of quality. It’s a Gigantic project.” Joseph Beuys

When I was studying at College of Fine Arts in Paddington Sydney between 1991-1997 in the bachelor of fine arts and then master of fine arts in sculpture my intellectual heroes were the artists: Joseph Beuys, Bruce Nauman and Anish Kapoor.

“Work grows out of other work, and there are very few eureka moments.” Anish Kapoor

The sculptures by Indian born English artist Anish Kapoor were most influential including his pigment sculptures and lime stone sculptures with black cavities in them that were deeply meditative and spiritual.

Beuys also was an immense inspiration and he was a German artist the head of the club in Europe and healed Germany after the second world war by getting the Germans to face up to the horror they had unleashed in the world. His drawings in particular are incredibly sensitive and spiritual and very cathartic. All catharsis means is letting go of pain through a creative outlet in a harmless way.

The American artist Bruce Nauman was also deeply influential and his neon works, installations and performances were profound and powerful.

“In the studio, I don’t do a lot of work that requires repetitive activity. I spend a lot of time looking and thinking and then try to find the most efficient way to get what I want, whether it’s making a drawing or a sculpture, or casting plaster or whatever.” Bruce Gnomon

The lecturers in sculpture moulded my understanding of art and were: Bonita Ely, Joan Grounds, Martin Sims, Rose McGreavy, Michael Goldberg and Mikayla Odwyer and the current head of sculpture there Alan Giddy who got me a job at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney setting up exhibitions after me and the late artist Katthy Cavaliere organised a art video night at Performance Space in Sydney that he was in.

My artworks at art school were multidisciplinary although I was a major in the sculpture department. I made drawings, sculpture, ceramics, installation art and performance art.

My artwork at art school was about psychological space and links to architecture and the body as hubs of spiritualism.

Notable alumni of artists who studied around the same time include Fernando Pino, Del Kathryn Barton, Sean Gladwell, Angellica Mesiti, the King Pins, Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro, Nerine Martini, Kathy Cavaliere  and Cherine Fhad.