MANY will be familiar with Geoffrey Drake-Brockman’s work without necessarily knowing his name.
Totem, or what has affectionately become known as ‘the pineapple’ to those visiting Perth Arena, is one of several public art commissions by the Perth artist.
After spending his youth in Canberra, an 18-year-old Drake-Brockman embarked on an eight-month hitchhiking tour of Australia that finished when visiting family in WA and he decided to stay.
“I started studying at UWA, initially physics but that turned into a computer science degree,” he said.
“For a long time I made the deliberate decision not to use technology in my art; I resisted using it until years later when I went to art school at Curtin University and did a Masters in visual arts, where I studied art theory.
“It led me to think about how the concept of technology could be interesting in visual art and having engaged with the concept, the logical next step was to use it.”
Drake-Brockman,who has an industrial warehouse studio in Nedlands, said he then found himself in a catch 22 with his ambition to secure large public art commissions using robotic and optical technologies.
“You can’t get a public art commission until you’ve already done a public art commission, so that seemed like an impenetrable closed shop at first” he said.
“I was working with another artist called Richie Kuhaupt and we came up with a proposal for a commission initially where I grew up in Canberra.
“That was my first public art commission and once you have one, it’s easier to get another.”
Drake-Brockman has since created Totem, the ascending Spiral at WA Police Headquarters and interactive light sculpture Luminous at Chinatown in Northbridge, plus works for Sculpture by the Sea, including Solar Jayne, inspired by WA Ballet principal dancer Jayne Smeulders.
His latest foray finds Drake-Brockman stepping back into a commercial gallery with exhibition Looking Glass, something he has not done in 19 years.
“Public art commissions have kept me busy and supplementing that was institutional exhibitions at PICA or the National Gallery of Australia,” he said.
“I just thought it would be nice to go back to an old idea I hadn’t tried for a long time.
“There are about 30 works with static sculptures, interactive installation and 12 new paintings that I’ve just completed in the last few weeks; it’s the first time I’ve made paintings in about 20 years.”
The paintings have a strong geometric theme incorporating mirrors, flat surfaces and colour, and have been described by Drake-Brockman’s partner and Brazilian singer-songwriter Juliana Areias as “multi- dimensional paintings”.
Areias sang her original song Belas Artes, meaning ‘Fine Arts’ in Portuguese and composed about Drake-Brockman, during the exhibition’s opening this week at Linton and Kay Galleries Perth, Level 1/137 St Georges Terrace.
Looking Glass exhibition is showing until May 22.