What’s your connection to Sunshine?
I moved here in early 2015, so I live here locally now. And I also had a studio pretty much straight away, within two months of living here, through Brimbank council.
What brought you to Sunshine?
I’d been working locally for three years prior to moving here and I got sick of commuting, – I was working in the meat industry, in an a
battoir. I’ve got all these photos; I ended up making an art project about my time spent in the meat industry because I found it wildly, really amazing, visually – a really stunning place to work.
I’m a vegetarian. I went into the meat industry because I wanted to question my own vegetarianism. I wanted to see if I could face what was happening. It ended up being great work to support myself going through art school, and I ended up being able to make art work out of it, so it was a really good job to have for that three years
… that’s when I built the connection to a lot of friends and colleagues who actually lived in Sunshine. So I convinced my partner to make the move with me.
What do you like about the area?
The people and the food. So I’ve probably had the most friends living locally with me than any other place that I’ve lived in Melbourne. I grew up in the south eastern suburbs, in Hampton. I’ve got lots of friends from high school and primary school, but I actually feel way more connected to this area now, I think because I started working here, and also the food. My favourite food is Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Vietnamese, and it’s all here. I spent a bit of time living in India, way before I even knew where Sunshine was … I made some connections with some Tamils over there, and they came over by boat in 2012 so I’m actually really close friends with them. I’ve got a lot of friends in the Tamil community here as well.
What could make the area better?
I love Sunshine. I’m actually worried, I’m seeing a lot of changes happening. Me moving out here is one of them. Gentrification scares me and sometimes I feel really guilty because I’m an artist and artists are often the first wave of gentrification to move into that area … and where I shop and eat, I often think about that. I’m just scared about the prices of housing and how much it’s becoming unaffordable.
I’m scared for it to change too much.
Has it shaped who you are?
Yeah definitely, I feel like Sunshine has made my world bigger. Because it’s so multicultural and it brings together a number of different social classes as well, there actually is a lot of wealth out here in Sunshine, against the stereotypes … there is also a lot of low income immigration, refugees … so I actually feel that rather than shape me, it’s made me feel more connected. It’s solidified my interest in travel, culture, language, art.
What about your upcoming exhibition?
My next exhibition will be held in the Warrnambool Base Hospital next April or May … I did a long residency there in 2015 … I watched surgeries taking place, I went down and visited the morgue, I went and worked with cleaners sometimes, saw the kitchen, the industrial laundry, all the different industries that make the hospital tick over
So the hospital has actually opened up this old, unused, dilapidated ward that hasn’t been running for 20 years. We’re going to clean it out and hold an exhibition there.
What are you favourite eateries in the area?
There’s a brand new one that’s just opened up called the Mango Tree, that’s Sri Lankan cuisine … and Afghan Star, the customer service is amazing, it’s a family-run business.
Who inspires you?
I’ve always really liked the artwork of John Kelly – he’s a really prominent Australian painter – I actually didn’t know much about his sculptures until they launched that massive bronze sculpture. I walk past that and I feel so proud.
I was actually able to go and visit the foundry where they were making it and I actually feel like: ‘He’s a local Sunshine guy and he’s taken that sculpture to Paris, London, and now it’s in Sunshine’ … that makes me feel really proud.