Monthly Archives: February 2014

get to know MALACHI FROST, RARE DNA

What do you do?

I’m a circus side show performer, so what that means is anything from juggling; acrobatics, to contortion; and freak show. So, I hammer nails into my skull; eat fire, and broken glass; bed of nails. All the fun freaky shit, basically.

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What was the journey that lead you to this style of performance?

I always really loved circus growing up. Got around and starting talking to all of the buskers and performers. I started off in the streets as a magician, doing street shows with magic; then got more interested in the circus and the freakier side of things. I don’t do as much magic anymore. I feel that Adelaide has enough talented magicians; but there’s not a lot of side show freaks in Adelaide.

What comments do you get from audiences about your show?

Oh, “is it real?” like the nails that go into the skull, or the power drill, or the glass, and that. Uh, ‘yes’ [laughs]. There’s a lot of stigma around this industry that it’s all smoke and mirrors, and magic. I kind of try to explain the difference to people between ‘magic’ and ‘sideshow’. What we do (sideshow) is real. We’ve trained to push our bodies to that next step. Magic is more… a mental thing. Illusion; they trick, and amaze, and it is amazing.

What do you think appeals to people about your show?

The fact that it is quite different. I mean obviously if you live over in Melbourne or Sydney, where there’s a lot of other side-show performers, that might not apply quite as much, but you know in Adelaide in your everyday life, you don’t see someone drilling into their head, Although we might have seen people do it before at Fringe or at the Adelaide Show; it’s still considered a bizarre thing, really.

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What is Rare DNA?

It started originally for charity event fundraising. I started collecting contacts of a lot of great musicians, beat-boxers, magicians, stilt walkers, burlesque performers. We’d go to the fundraising event and perform, from it we’d take a percentage and the rest would go to the organisers. That’s what Rare DNA started as. That part didn’t take off that much, as say using Rare DNA as the official body of Malachi Frost. It’s become a contact network for event performers, an event entertainment company, I guess. We don’t do the management of an event, we just supply the performers. I’ve just gotten confirmation that Rare DNA is doing the Clipsal; so through Rare DNA it’ll be me and another Adelaide performer doing that.

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How long does it take to prepare for a show?

If I were to create a new street show, it’s a matter of finding out which stunts I’m allowed to do in the street, also scripting. It could be two weeks of head down focus before I can get the 20 minute spot to put onto the street. Whereas if I do a solo show, it’s not so much working out which tricks I can already do, it’s what’s going to be the new stunt. I want a new stunt for every solo show I do. I’ve got two stunts that I’ve been working on for the past two years, and I’m still not happy with them, to perform live. But, a lot of the stage stuff or walk around stuff that we get hired for, it’s a lot of rehashing old routines. So, that’s really quick. I could get a phone call now for a gig to do tonight, I’d decide this that and the other to put in a show for 20 minutes and that’s it.

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Do you have an act/stunt that gets more attention than others?

Ha, yes, the power drill, obviously because you’re putting a running power drill into the skull (after demonstrating it through a plank of wood). So, that one gets a nice big reaction. But the one that people ask about the most is, the glass eating. I only do it at certain gigs, because, well, I’m eating glass, it’s not something I want to do every day. Basically, for the glass routine, you walk and stomp on the glass, and then you pick out a nice looking one, and then swallow it. People will ask ‘is it sugar glass?’, the amount of effort it would take to pick out one piece of sugar glass from out of all of that, and do it in a way that would make it look like I’m eating real glass, it’s easier just to eat the real glass! [laughs] And it usually still has the label on it, because I usually drink from a glass bottle and then smash it.

What’s your most difficult stunt?

The stilt walking. Once you get up on, and can walk on stilts, that’s great, congratulations, but then when you add in a strait jacket, it’s really hard. You no longer have your arms to rely on for balance. For half the time your head is inside a jacket with your arms strapped to your sides. You can’t see anything, you can’t put your hands out. You’re relying solely on your centre of gravity and the sound of the stilts against the ground. It’s difficult to know whether you’re walking to the edge of the stage or not. That’s one of the hardest stunts. Every other stunt though, it gets easier the more times you do it, but you never stop practising.

What do you want people to take from your show?

If there’s one thing I really want to get across it’s that I am Adelaide based. I hear it a lot, “the performers are in Melbourne, Sydney”, or, “if you want to get anywhere, you move out of Adelaide”. I think Adelaide has some great venues, we have great performers, we have the second largest Fringe Festival in the world, only beaten by Edinburgh obviously. Whyy do we have to move somewhere else? Why fly someone from Melbourne when you’ve got someone in Adelaide? Support your own artists.

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What kind of settings and venues do you perform at?

You pretty much adapt for any space or stage.

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Do you have a favourite stunt/act?

Tennis racket contortion. That has always been my favourite stunt. I like trying to make it look as absolutely awkward as possible. It’s the one I have the most fun with.

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What’s one thing we should know about the show?

This show is real, it’s dangerous, do not bring your children to the show if they are easily influenced. With my show, and any other side show genre, we work incredibly hard to train our bodies how to do these stunts safely. It’s not illusion; it’s not fake nails, fake power drills, sugar glass, smoke and mirrors. It’s real and scary sometimes.

How can we see your act?

Hire me [laughs]. For a lot of what I do, I’m not allowed to do it on the streets, so the best way to see what we do is to convince your boss to hire us for a Christmas party or wait for a solo show. If you jump onto the facebook page we always list the shows we’ve got coming up, different functions or corporate gigs, or even if I’m doing some street stuff.

facebook.com/malachifrost.raredna

Malachi Frost as part of Rare DNA are also performing at the Clipsal 500 so be sure to check them out.

*Please note, the photos chosen for this interview are quite PG because the content might not be appropriate for the faint hearted. Please do check out the Malachi Frost; Rare DNA facebook page for more photos.

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get to know ZOE WOODS

What do you do?

I make blown and carved glass sculptures that have biological sort of influences, like, the symmetrical structures in cells. I’m also really interested in the optical qualities of glass and the sort of trippy reflections you can get.

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Describe your art

Normally I have fairly solid pieces where I trap a bubble of air inside a solid piece of glass and that bubble reflects some sort of pattern that I’ve carved into the glass. Then I have lenses that act as windows to the bubble so that you can get a little view. I guess I like to think that I’m looking at microscopic patterns.

Glacial Shift, 2014  photo by Rebecca Kammer

Glacial Shift, 2014
photo by Rebecca Kammer

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What inspires you?

I don’t know, just that feeling of wonder: in nature, in the design that nature comes up with, which is crazier than people can come up with [laughs].

Do you have a favourite piece?

I think the most recent pieces that I’ve done. There’s more colour and I guess it’s a bit more graphically interesting than my older work, where I had been working a lot in black and white; and with what’s called a Graal technique.

When do you find yourself being most creative?

In the studio when I’m working. While I’m working I might see something interesting that I hadn’t noticed before. And that makes me think ‘what if I do this next time’. My work is, it’s not like each work is a completely different idea, it’s like a progression of one exploration, I guess.

Bloom, 2014  photo by Rebecca Kammer

Bloom, 2014
photo by Rebecca Kammer

What kinds of comments do you get about your work?

I guess I enjoy it when I see or hear people express wonder like, they don’t quite understand. Yeah, people questioning what they’re seeing. That’s kind of exciting to me, because that’s the kind of feeling that you get when you look at nature, and see something amazing, and are like ‘how’s that possible?’.

What do you think appeals to people about your work?

I’d like to think, or, it might be me just hoping but well, even if people might not know how it’s made, that they can appreciate the quality, of how much time and effort I’ve put into the surfaces and stuff like that. I don’t know, I think people are drawn to symmetry, people are drawn to nature. I guess I kind of hope that the patterns in the work resonate with people because they’re not direct copies of anything in nature but they reference those frameworks of which nature is sometimes based.

Ripple Pair, 2013  photo by Rebecca Kammer

Ripple Pair, 2013
photo by Rebecca Kammer

How long will you sit with a piece until it’s finished?

It does vary. I make the blank in the hot shop with a team of glass blowers and that might take an hour, an hour and a half, then they go into an annealing kiln for a week so they cool down gradually. They need to cool down slowly because the glass needs to be the same temperature throughout or else they’ll crack. So they anneal for a week and then I’ll take them into the cold workshop when and I’ll use stone or diamond wheels to grind on a glass cutting lathe, to cut through layers of colour and create a pattern. And that’s usually between thirty, thirty five hours work. And then, some of them have quite a lot of hand sanding as well, so that’s quite time consuming, they’re a lot of work.

What was the inspiration/influence that directed you to this path?

Well, I went to UniSA and I did two strands of art – I did painting and I did glass. And I think it was just one of those things where if I didn’t like glass I would do painting. I don’t ever really consider myself a sculpture or a sculptural artist but I think with glass I feel more free to do abstract-y sort of stuff. With painting, I was like ‘what do I paint?’. I used to like painting animals, but I just felt like I didn’t want to paint animals my whole life. Whereas with glass I guess I’m so interested in the material that it sort of helps me along with making something interesting that isn’t totally illustrative, it’s a bit more abstract. I feel like my wonder in the material drives the direction of the work and part of the work is about sharing that wonder with the viewer.

Microcosm Pair II, 2013 photo by Rebecca Kammer

Microcosm Pair II, 2013
photo by Rebecca Kammer

What are your influences?

The prints of Ernst Haeckel in the book Art Forms in Nature, which just has the most amazing illustrations of symmetrical forms in nature; and then just my general love of nature, and being outdoors, discovering new things. But also, Bridget Riley’s Op Art from the 60’s big black and white paintings, very crisp lines, they’re illusions. They have that sense of wonder that I hope people get when they’re trying to figure out what’s going on in my work. And I guess just in general the glass community in Adelaide and Australia; there are a lot of artists that I draw different things from. Like, there’s Ben Edols and Kathy Elliot from Sydney who do amazing carvings of natural forms and Kevin Gordon who does amazing organic shapes; Sea Urchin is my favourite one. It’s a really good community of really hard working people, so I guess I’m inspired to work hard by their influence.

Page by Laura Klappenbach - Illustration by Ernst Haeckel. Image Plates from Artforms of Nature. By Laura Klappenbach

Page by Laura Klappenbach – Illustration by Ernst Haeckel. Image Plates from Artforms of Nature. By Laura Klappenbach

Bridget Riley: Bright light 1. 1962.

Bridget Riley: Bright light 1. 1962.

Proteus, 2013 Photo by Rebecca Kammer

Proteus, 2013
Photo by Rebecca Kammer

What constitutes as your first piece?

When I was in second year uni I did these pieces, I think it was called The Inversion Series, and they were these flattened pieces where I did this sand blasted pattern and engraved an animal on the back. The national glass collection is in Wagga Wagga. So, they started up this student glass competition and I was selected as a finalist and I went over there and it was really exciting because the collector bought one of my pieces for the national collection.

Inversion 3 2009, blown glass, sandblasted and drill engraved, photo by Steve Wilson.

Inversion 3 2009, blown glass, sandblasted and drill engraved, photo by Steve Wilson.

How do your first pieces compare to your most recent pieces?

Well, I guess because the glass was thick, I was interested in how that imagery was appearing to stretch around the edges, around the curves. So, from the start I’ve been looking at the distortive qualities of glass. They were all clear, and the pattern etched on the back was a bit more subtle. I think the pieces I do now are bolder in terms of colour, with the really sharp reflections on the inside.

Cosmic Lenses, 2013, photo by Rebecca Kammer

Cosmic Lenses, 2013, photo by Rebecca Kammer

What do you hope happens in the next year?

I hope that I have a studio to work in; I hope to set up a glass cutting lathe at home and get plenty of work made. I’ve got a show in May 2015, at Sabbia, a glass and ceramics gallery in Sydney, it’s probably the best one in Australia, so I’m really excited about that. It’s just a little solo show, and the glass artists Ben Edols and Kathy Elliot have got their show downstairs, and I’m upstairs so I’m really excited. I think I’ll do some smaller projects here and there and enter a few different things and try to keep busy making work but I really want to have a good body of new work for that exhibition.

Where can we find your stuff?

facebook.com/ZoeWoodsGlass

zoewoods.com.au

Being exhibited at BMGArt Gallery until February 22 2014