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Featured Artist: Julie Shiels

6th June 2017 Featured Artists

Waiting For The Toilet
Waiting For The Toilet

Julie Shiels uses her studies in Philosophy & Art in Public Spaces to create projects that observe and record objects and actions in everyday life - some spanning over many years. Each project takes on its own photographic style to further support the work.

In her most recent project 'Waiting', taken over a period of four years, Julie presents to us a collection of images taken on a mobile phone while waiting for things in everyday life - waiting to get home, waiting to get off the plane etc. - things and moments that we usually overlook.

Julie is launching her photo book 'Waiting', published by M.33, this month and we have the pleasure of have five of these works in our office for the next few months. 

Education and background: 
RMIT - Masters of Art in Public Space

Victorian College of the Arts - Doctor of Philosophy

Where are you based? 
Melbourne and Torquay

How long have you been a visual artist for? 
Since 1984

What do you feel is your biggest achievement to date? 
Surviving my PhD

What are your creative influences?
The French post war movement artists - The New Realists, the philosophically ideas of the Speculative Realists and written and creative works that relate to art and the everyday.

What camera/equipment do you use?
A mobile phone and a Nikon D300

Waiting To Get Home
Waiting To Get Home

Describe your photographic style and how it has changed over the years.
My photographic style is pragmatic and changes with each project so that it supports the content of each body of work. For example 'As Long as it Lasts' (2005 -14) is a collection of images that recorded the hard rubbish that I stencilled with quotes and truisms. 

Originally the photos were intended only as documentation, but over time I realised that they were becoming a body of work in their own right – the result of a set of repeated processes. I always stencilled the furniture where I found it – I didn't move it to get a better location or image – and I always took the photograph immediately after applying the text. 

Using neither filter nor tripod it was my intention to reflect the banality and uncertainty of everyday life, just like the texts and the pieces of furniture on which they have been applied. 

My latest project is a photo book called 'Waiting' which is published by M.33. The collection of images is a study in banality, boredom and the mundane actions and objects of daily life and these ideas are supported by a prosaic photographic style. Shot on a mobile phone these micro observations of public space are a study of the public spaces I endured while waiting. 

Shot over a 4 year period this collection of images were taken while waiting for the plane, train, tram, doctor or pauses when I waited for Peter to buy the milk, Snowy to pee or Leo to get back into the car, etc. and titled accordingly. Abstract in nature and recorded while traversing from one place to another, the photos are also an observation of the things we overlook when moving from A to B.

How did you find getting started with printing at Image Science?
It has always been an absolute pleasure to work with the staff at Image Science who have always been incredibly helpful in assisting me to realise the ambitions of my projects.

What's next? 
The project that I have just started developing is called 'Empty' and is a study of the empty spaces in the upper levels of CBD office spaces that surround my new home. Shot entirely through my windows this collection of images capture the stillness of these workplaces when the day has either ended or before it is about to begin. The absence of human presence amplifies the activities that occur behind the glass facades. 

The content and photographic style of this new work offers an alternative view of the Melbourne CBD, but is also a counterpoint to the concerns of architectural photography that is focused on high rise buildings. Breaking with the technical conventions of most photography in this field, these images are shot with a long lens and no tripod in order to evoke the ghostliness of these spaces after the workers have left for the day or are yet to arrive.

You can read more about Julie's projects and follow her work via her website & instagram.