The multidisciplinary artist was advanced $6000 to create a paper-based artwork, to be exhibited for 12 months before making its way into Artbank’s prestigious collection. Cranstoun’s ambitious piece is 150cm x 100cm. A singular artwork rather than a series, the Artbank + QPAC commission differs from Cranstoun’s usual outcomes, yet still maintains its conceptual beginnings. “My practice involves a lot of research, looking at key historical figures and events. Through my research, I accumulate a lot of images that tend to sit in my computer for a while. I had an idea to use the images that were left over from my research and create a collage, giving them new life,” explains Cranstoun.
Using his backlog of sourced images, Cranstoun playfully but very selectively collaged them together, as a sort of tribute that gives viewers a chance to bring their own meaning to the work. “I like the idea of the images I use having ambiguity; not being attached to one historical theme or narrative. I’m a bedroom researcher; removed from the rest of the world. I think this gives an interesting dialog to my work as it shows I am a consumer of pop culture,” explains Cranstoun. Primarily a concept artist, Cranstoun’s artistic career has many different outcomes such as sculptures, brail plaques, handstitched flags, drawings, ceramics and paintings. Like most of his collages, the artist’s Artbank + QPAC commissioned piece has been digitally designed, then painted largescale using watercolour on paper with impressive detail.
A keen follower of Artbank and its artist opportunities, Sam Cranstoun is appreciative of the commission he has been awarded. “I have always been aware of Artbank and its initiatives. I think they have a great way of supporting Australian artists at all different levels of their careers. When I saw the Artbank + QPAC commission advertised I thought it was a great opportunity to put in an ambitious application,” explains Cranstoun. “Working with Artbank has been a friendly and supportive process. They have been following my work for a while, which is very encouraging as an artist.”
Cranstoun previously exhibited at Tokyo Downtown Cool Media Festival, and has twice been a finalist for the Archibald Prize. QPAC’s Associate Director of Arts Programming, Kirsten Siddle, expressed excitement at welcoming Cranstoun’s work to QPAC. “Sam is one of the rising stars of the Brisbane arts scene and his provocative exploration of historical imagery and events should create an exceptional work for the Artbank + QPAC Commission,” said Siddle at the time of the commission announcement.
After a period in residence at Metro Arts, Sam Cranstoun brought his images new life by the end of June, ready to display at QPAC’s Russell Street Wine Bar in July.
Words by Melissa Fletcher | Images by Georgina Ashford