Student Spotlight: Luke Brady

String and stencil art shines light on politics

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November 05, 2017

Luke Brady is a Visual Arts Major at the Academy of Design Australia. His work will be on display at Grad Show 2017, from Wednesday 8 - Saturday 10 November 2018.

On his ‘art’ name

My art name on Instagram is @_Throwup_. I appropriate artworks, and then I was thinking of what other words could mean ‘appropriate’ – and thought of regurgitate, followed by vomit, and then, throw up!  I didn’t want a prestigious or pristine artist name. I just wanted something grungy and dirty that embodies me, street art, and the humour behind my work.

On his artwork

I produce politically motivated artwork. At the moment I’ve been focusing on Donald Trump, Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin, and it’s this question of bringing them down a peg – both literally and metaphorically. I started off doing spray paint and stencils. I did a few series where I photoshopped the face of the politician onto a gimp suit and used that image to create stencils, playing around with the idea of making these people, who see status as the be all and end all of life, and making them as vulnerable as possible.

In first year, Visual Arts Coordinator Michelle Mantsio introduced me to street art, and since then I’ve been completely in love with it. I like to sit on the fence when creating my artworks – much like my approach to politics. But I like provoking an opinion, whether it’s positive or negative. My first series was called Religious Ridiculousness. I put Donald Trump’s head on Jesus in a stencil, Hilary Clinton on the Virgin Mary, and Tony Abbott (ex-Australian Prime Minister) on Buddha. I showed the Donald Trump piece in the second year show. A parent of another student told her that they hated the idea behind it. The student came in and told me and I said “I love that reaction”!

Something that stuck in my mind in first year is what Michelle said about art – as long as it’s memorable, it’s good. You don’t want someone to come past your artwork, look and keep walking. I feel as if my work makes people stop and think, and whether their opinion on it is positive or negative, it’s more than memorable.

On collaborating across the Academy

From stencils, I went into the string work side of my art. I was involved in VAMFF 2017 (Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival) and being predominantly fashion based, I couldn’t just walk in with stencils and street art. I had to twist my own body of work. I used string because it was a bit more fashion-oriented than stencil work. I projected the sketches everyone had drawn throughout the making of the final garments onto a wooden board, drew around them, then nailed around them and connected them with string.

On developing new work for Grad Show 2017

For Grad Show 2017, I’ve photoshopped politician’s heads onto well known oil paintings, and then used string to create the artwork. I’ve taken the Creation of Adam by Michelangelo, and put Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump’s heads on the figures of God and Adam, and it’s connected and interwoven with string. I’m drawing on the idea of moulding and creating – the idea that something so refined, renowned and beautiful, has been spoiled by being replaced by a different sort of creator. It’s a comment on the current political climate, because more than the original artwork has been spoiled – the actions of these politicians are depicted in the media as spoiling their societies, or relationships with other countries.  

I don’t try and find out as much as possible about politics before I create more works, but I know the big picture and some details. I like it like that – it connects more with the viewers viewing the work – I see my audience as blue collar, everyday people, not people who have studied politics.  

On future directions

It’s been a dream of mine to be an art teacher since I was young. I want to inspire the younger generation of artists. I had the best art teacher in Year 11 at Berwick Secondary College: Ben Woonton. He had that perfect level of teacher and friend. It’s so important because you bond. When I did the string work for VAMFF, a teacher from a school in Kew walked past and took a shine to it. I ended up doing a workshop for his Year 12 students who were in the process of doing their folios. I helped them with string work and stencils. Looking through their folios, I realised their work was immense. When they asked me where to go from here – I said – just keep doing this!  That’s even more a reason to be an art teacher, especially for Year 11 and 12 students. Just watching kids blossom in the arts community, and knowing that you’ve helped them along the way, is amazing. 

Follow Luke on Instagram

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