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In Conversation with Artist Kenny Pittock

"I guess maybe one of the biggest lessons is that art can be anything you want it to be. It can be silly, or scary, or sad, or brave, or all those things at once."

Witticisms and wordplay feature strongly in Kenny Pittock’s art, so too in this interview. We speak to Kenny about… well… lots! Kenny is one of five artists taking part in the bookmaking workshop ‘The Grand Imaginarium: Your Story Garden’, presented in partnership with Kids’ Own Publishing as part of our Convent Kids program. To find out more about this exciting children’s event, click here.

The playful nature of your art evokes a certain child-like way of seeing the world. Do you find the irreverence of your work often disarms audiences?

I can confidently say that no one has ever been disarmed by my work. Anyone who happens to be missing an arm was already disarmed before they saw my work.

Your artwork both makes light of and celebrates certain Australian past-times and icons, from wooden sculptures of Eskys to ceramic rainbow Paddle Pops. What is it about ‘Australiana’ that appeals to you?

I think my favourite thing about Havaianas’ is that they’re just really comfy. Wait, did you say Havaianas or Australiana? I always get those two confused.

Speaking of Paddle Pops, your Grand Imaginarium workshop is all about the ‘four pops’; pop art, pop-up books, popcorn and Paddle Pops. What can children expect to create with the ‘four pops’?

The ‘four pops’ is really just a playful starting point to get everyone thinking a bit differently about some of the things they’d like to see in a book.

Is this your first time making art and doing workshops with budding young artists?

Fortunately, not. Over the last three or four years I’ve hosted lots of art workshops for kids (and grown up kids!), including at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, the National Gallery of Victoria, the MPavillion, Cowwarr Art Space in regional Victoria and Chan Hampe Galleries in Singapore. I’ve also worked as a sessional teacher for a couple of years teaching painting to Year 11s at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School.

If a child has a really great idea in the workshop… will you steal it?

Haha, no luckily, I already have too many ideas as it is.

You use a mix of wordplay and imagery to convey ideas in your artwork – something the children will do when making their own books in the workshop. What element of storytelling, particularly the use of images in storytelling, do you hope to get across to the children?

I guess maybe one of the biggest lessons is that art can be anything you want it to be. It can be silly, or scary, or sad, or brave, or all those things at once.

Children’s books will also be merged to create a ‘story trail’ for visitors at the Convent to experience. Do you think the children in your workshop will have the coolest part of the story trail?

Yep, as cool as an ice-cream wearing sunglasses.

What are your plans for 2018?

I’ve got a few exhibitions coming up so I’m busily working towards them. I’m also making some new books. Other than that, in 2018 I’m going to do a marathon, which is pretty exciting. Either a running marathon or a Harry Potter marathon, I haven’t decided yet.

For more information about ‘The Grand Imaginarium: Your Story Garden’, see our What’s On page.