Thoughts arising from Junwen Zhu's interview with Canberra artist Nicci Haynes

Collaborating with others - immediate response


Nicci: “You set up a relationship with somebody. Your responses to them are very unmediated.”

“I tend to work with people who do improvisation. And what happens just happens there and then between the people who are present. It’s a little bit planned but I quite like that sort of immediate interaction.” 

Junwen: Sometimes, the immediate response is the real thing in our minds but we don't express it to the outside world. Before we say something, we consider our words a lot. To maintain a good impression, or for other particular reasons, we may speak an opposite opinion. But an ‘accident’, like an immediate response, reveals the real voice in our heart.

Define our community, define ourselves


Nicci: My communities are separate, not overlapping. 

Junwen: I don’t have a clear concept or understanding of community. I think it’s just a big group of people. Even within one community, not everyone has the same relationship with each other and there are some subsets. To define our community, to some extent, is to define ourselves. It is very subjective and can be easily changed at any time. 

We may have multiple communities. We leave and join communities. The reason we stay is the sense of belonging.

Whether to explain or interpret artwork to the public? 


Nicci: “I tend not to. I don’t make work with the intention of creating a message really.” “I think people aren’t used to looking at arts. I think maybe there’s an idea you have to understand what somebody has made or done. I think you don’t have to articulate what it is you got from me. You just look at it. Maybe you'll think about it some more, and maybe you won’t.”

Junwen: I wonder whether the text panel for explanation or interpretation really helps audiences to understand, or is it a barrier to understanding? When I visit an exhibition, I may guess the message which the artist wants to demonstrate. After comparing the text panel, if the interpretation is not the same as I thought and I still can’t understand it, I will go away and not wish to learn further.

The impact of the surrounding environment on an artist’s practice


Nicci: “You have things that you think about and you have your art. It must influence, but not directly. It’s not a direct relationship.” “You just make your art and the things that are present in your mind manifest in your art.” “It is parallel.”

Junwen: Surrounding environments impact us and sometimes directly influence our work, but sometimes we don’t realize it. Once you notice the changes occurring in surroundings, for example, breaking news, your mood and your thoughts may be changed, as a response to the changes.