In Conversation with Slow Art Collective's Dylan and Chaco

    This month, hundreds of children are descending on the Convent’s c3 Contemporary Art Space to experience Slow Art Collective’s Sensory Art Lab. Kids can step inside the gallery and experience a colourful world of imaginative play, where simple recycled materials are transformed into wondrous constructions. Everywhere you turn, there’s something new to look at – a giant macramé hammock, a glow-in-the-dark weaving room, punching bag gongs and so much more.

    We chat to Dylan Martorell and Chaco Kato, core members of Slow Art Collective, about Sensory Art Lab, their slow art philosophy, and why simple materials can often generate the most wonder.

    Tell us a little about Slow Art Collective and the type of work you do.

    Slow Art Collective is an artistic collective that focuses on creative practices and ethics relating to environmental sustainability, material ethics, DIY culture and collaboration. As an interdisciplinary group of artists, we are interested in process-driven practices where the focus is on the act of making.

    Collaboration is intrinsic to all facets of our work. Since 2009, Slow Art Collective have undertaken a range of projects that use the process of collecting to address the crossovers between artistic practice, creative sustainability and individual responsibility.

    Recent commissioned projects include Leaf House Musique at Mpavillion (pictured above), Arch-Loom 7 at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Summertime Party at Arts House (pictured below), the Melbourne Now exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, Loomusica at Castlemaine State Festival, Gertrude Contemporary, and Shelter at a McDonald’s drive-through.

    Slow Art Collective also run numerous workshops that explore new possibilities for collaboration with young ‘artists’, through creative processes that extend the parameters of art and art materials.

    Tell us about your art making philosophy, and why you believe in ‘slow art’? 

    Slow art is about slow exchanges of value rather than the fast, monetary exchange of value. It is about the slow absorption of culture through community links, by creating something together and blurring the boundary between artist and viewer. It is a sustainable arts practice, not an extreme solution. It’s a reasonable alternative to deal with real problems in contemporary art practice.

    Why do you think it’s important for children to experience ‘slow art’?

    We focus on DIY and consciously not-too-refined art, so that it is both engaging and familiar. Particularly in today’s world, we like to give kids the opportunity to have fun in a low-tech environment – no iPad required!

    Art is a form of communication, which is an ideal outlet not only for young children, but all human beings, to develop their creativity and imagination. A lot of scientific research shows kids develop a great deal of self-esteem and confidence when they feel excited, have fun, and experience creative and imaginative environments.

    We believe it is important for kids to be able to fully immerse themselves in an environment that is also interactive. That’s why we aim to make our installations as hands-on as possible.

    Slow Art Collective has transformed the Convent’s c3 Contemporary Art Space for children’s program Sensory Art Lab. What can families expect from this program? 

    This year’s Sensory Art Lab will follow the basic principles of last year’s program, but with a range of exciting new activities. Children can build a hive of cubbies and shelters using a special kit of materials; weave and play in the glow-in-the-dark chamber; take aim in the skirmish-style, fishing-net world inspired by the Japanese game Tamaire; and swing in a giant macramé hammock. The program is free, with drop-in sessions daily until 20 January.

    What’s next for Slow Art Collective?

    In February, we will be heading to Adelaide Fringe. We will also continue working on a number of variations of Sensory Art Lab for our future projects.

    Check out Sensory Art Lab at the Convent until 20 January, and find out more about Slow Art Collective.