Angela Garrick is an Australian artist who has spent her whole life immersed in the creative underground. Primarily known for her music, both solo and in bands such as ‘Circle Pit’, ‘Kiosk’ and ‘Southern Comfort’; Angela is also an accomplished artist, writer, curator, director and the owner of independent publishing house ‘Ruin Press’. Which Angela uses as a vehicle to showcase the works of emerging and avant garde Australian creatives, such as Marcus Whale, Jack Randall Lee, Make or Break and others.
Raised by activist, music loving and culturally aware parents, Angela first discovered the joy of creating as a small child with a secret bedroom wall tunnelling project,
“I deeply remember finding a hole in the wall of my childhood room, and to me this was like my first art project.
I secretly decided to slowly tunnel through the wall, it was this amazing secret sculpture that no one knew about or could see. Even when I wasn’t at home, I would think about this project, laugh at it, cast thoughts about it, it was my “project”.
But when my parents realised what i was doing they were not impressed with me!“
It is telling that Angela’s first realised art project involved a DIY approach, world creation, challenged authority and explored the temporal reality of daily life. As as they are all ongoing themes in her work and aesthetic vision to this very day.
With Angela continuing to create art of all types, having recently gotten her old band ‘Circle Pit’ back together and with her ‘Ruin Press’ publishing imprint continuing to be a success locally and internationally – we thought now was the perfect time to ask Angela some questions about art, the city of Sydney, her thoughts on living a creative life, curating and a whole lot more.
Read it all in the interview below…
Name + D.O.B?
Angela Garrick / Angie / A.Bermuda / A.bones, etc etc.
D.O.B? I was born the same day as Arthur Lee and Townes Van Zant 🙂
City, State and Country you currently call home?
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
City, State and Country you’re from?
Please describe some memories from key stages of your life: concerts, art, toys, romance, school, politics, crime, family, religion… ANYTHING really!
* Age 5 – beginnings:
I really can’t remember much from this stage of my life…
All of my earliest memories are from attending rallies with my parents. I remember being at protests for everything. I think the excitement and energy stayed with me, which is why they stuck out…
The only other thing I remember is having Ken Done (Editor – Ken is a noted Australian artist who rose to fame during the 1980s and 1990s) curtains in my room which I would stare at endlessly. The colours were just so intense and vibrant.
The wall next to my bed was covered in cracks that were painted over many times and formed these unusual oblique shapes in the wall and cast strange shadows… which I would stare at, imagining strange countries and animals emerging…
That’s another thing that sticks out from this time…
* Age 10 – continuations:
I started to play piano when I was 8, so by 10 I was very much concerned with mastering classical piano…
This time I remember my parents coming home from work and playing music and singing along with extreme emotion especially my mum. I can remember the Cranberries being a big one, Creedence and all the old stuff of course, but some things from the current day. It was the age of Aqua, Princess Diana, Chumbawamba, Oasis etc.
At age 12 my dad took me to see my first ever concert, which was Survival 98 a festival of indigenous music and it was something I can’t ever forget. Just the feeling in the air, the passion and bravery of the performers, the sense of collective celebration and pride.
* Age 15 – getting serious:
Something happened at age 15, I somehow became electrified… my teenage bedroom from this time had about 5 guitars which I used to buy from Smithys in Camperdown, as they had these cheap guitars that they used to sell for 50 dollars each. I would experiment with different tunings and things like that.
I would also print out pages and pages and pages of tabs. In fact the tabs would be everywhere, like a sea of paper, flowing and the ground would be underneath it somewhere!
Around this time we were taught about many writers and thinkers such as Virginia Woolf, Roland Barthes, which I think did something to me also… the literary explosion!
I also discovered music that I felt I could identify with through the amazing new technology called The Internet. In particular, Kill Rock Stars label and bands like Pussy Galore, Royal Trux and the Fall… I used to make endless iron on transfers using my dads printer and make band t shirts of my favorite albums….
* Age 20 – young adult:
By this time I was in art school and verging on an art school dropout. I couldn’t really focus on school at all, even though my passion was there, I needed to go out and live and have experiences, not be in a classroom.
I went a bit awol on my studies and went travelling around in bands and went off to America and Europe a lot…. I did go back later, but the only word to describe this time would be vagabonding… and mind-study….
I remember going overseas with hardly any money in my bank account at all… Which is crazy! And pawning lots of records the week before – and I mean, amazing records…
I also remember pawning my amp from Australia in Turkey to get enough money to get home around this time.
I think this age is very much about living in the present – you don’t really think too much about the future nor the past, which is how I definitely lived at this time.
* Age 25 – adult mode:
25 was when Circle Pit was winding down…… We released a single, which was our last release as of right now…. ‘Slave/ Honey’ 7” which came out on Sub Pop subsidiary Hardly Art in the US…
This was was interesting as it was recorded in a professional recording studio, unlike most of my other recording experiences that were at people’s makeshift studios and houses, it was a nice experience to have time, space and equipment – the luxury to make it right – something that in hindsight I really appreciate…
I also swam lots of laps at the pool wondering what to do with my life, and took up jogging…
I decided to make solo music, and made music with other projects…
I also started to focus more on art…
(Cover art for the 2012 Slave / Honey 7inch record from Circle Pit.)
* Age 30 – fully formed:
A lot had changed from 25-30, I experienced so much in these years, and had a lot of life-altering experiences. Although it wasn’t all peachy I managed to come out the end of the decade with 2 solo albums, which I think were the things that really gave me focus and pulled me into the future.
I felt so relieved to turn 30, like, the intensity of my 20s was a little bit too much for me the whole time, like everything was going to be different by the time I reached that milestone – and somehow, it just was.
I don’t really have a personal motto, but I would definitely say that I’m a believer in several things which could somewhat resemble mottos:
1. Growing Up In Public.
That is, learning in light of others, which I mean to say, showing your paintings when you’re unsure about them, playing a show when you’re nervous, and don’t feel ready…
This of course isn’t for everyone, but I feel like I’ve definitely “learned in public”, and I’ve definitely “learned in public with others who are also learning” and although some things I’ve done I am critical of, I really can’t think of a better way to live, to have a creative life and to ‘grow up’.
Editing, curation and having considered direction and well thought out ideas and motives are of course, very important, but the creative act is ultimately the most important part of it – the impetus, the spark. Share, explore, invent, etc.. and share with others.
I’ve presented creative work that wasn’t really amazing, but I know that also I have presented work which I was unsure about which in hindsight was… it is all a growing, burgeoning, shining, turning evolution.
I think also this is one of the reasons why I’m endlessly drawn to DIY communities. They actually foster and promote this activity, which I’m not sure more mainstream creative industries do, they’re all about everything being “polished”.
I’m not so much interested in polish, for myself and for others – I’m interested in those performing who are unsure, who need encouragement, who are exploring something with hope and promise… even desperation and despair… That all said and done, its equally important to listen and take in what others are doing, and try to remain open minded and supportive about what you may find.
2. Hands In Many Pies.
I don’t believe that creative people have to focus their entire lives on one thing and ‘master’ their craft. I think sometimes within art and music communities there is often the thought of this person who does music just dabbles in art, etc, but to me – its about creative acts – and no matter what form – are expressions of the artist.
Yves Klein was an artist, and also a Judo Expert – and these two expressions completely informed each other – and I see him as both judo player and artist.
It’s important to not feel boxed in by what you’ve done in the past, and whether you’re a ‘real’ musician or artist, etc. Its easy to moonlight within and around creative “industries” and then feel unsure if your belong in one or the other. I think, anyone can be whatever they like – and in my mind, I’m as much a musician as I am an artist as I am a gardener as I am a ceramics / cooking / ice skating enthusiast, etc.
3. Faceted Collaboration.
I think it is super important to spearhead different projects with collaborations in mind. Collaborations create worlds – literally.
Creative collaboration is key to communities developing and connecting with each other. I try to make sure that as much as I am able, I collaborate on others projects as it is can be renewing and enlightening.
Also it can take you out of your head and you can learn from the perspective of others… This is super important!
When and why did you first start making art of any type!?
I think as long as I can remember I was wholly fascinated with art. It is really hard to say ‘why’ because I have been obsessed with arts and crafts since I was super young, in primary school I was always doing any activity I was able to – lino cutting, ceramics, paper mache, anything I could that could develop those skills.
I deeply remember finding a hole in the wall of my childhood room, and to me this was like my first art project. I secretly decided to slowly tunnel through the wall, it was this amazing secret sculpture that no one knew about or could see.
Even when I wasn’t at home, I would think about this project, laugh at it, cast thoughts about it, it was my “project”. But when my parents realised what i was doing they were not impressed with me!
As an adult, I think it took a lot of thinking and learning for me to figure out exactly what art I wanted to make.. once I did have that aha moment (and for me it was kind of like that) after realising that a certain amount of my works had a unified aspect which has kind of eclipsed me until then.
This didn’t occur till I had been making art in some (any) form for 10 years at least. This also only occurred after an extensive period of self reflection, mistakes, and reading and research..
Any pivotal artistic moment(s) / influence(s)?
I am definitely very interested in the Oulipo Movement and the theory of constraints for my art practice.
It is a very enduring theme that I’m constantly thinking about, dreaming, discussing and researching further, it always remains relevant – as although it is primarily a literary movement, it can be applied to almost anything – music compositions, art installations, food, etc.
Please describe the process involved in producing your art?
My art projects usually involve many different components – audience participation / co-authors, web / online components, data analysis and presentation – so I guess in this sense it involves a lot of planning, pre-production and then organisation of collated information.
As my works basically take the same form – user-generated content that I retrieve and present as art – essentially using constraints to produce work (similar to the philosophical outline of the Oulipo movement).
Usually I’ll have a fairly simple idea of “oh, I’m going to collect weather complaints” or “i’m going to collect memories of two streets, one in Sydney and one in Paris” but then as these ideas become “real” projects, they tend to get a lot more complicated.
* Your music?
Music I think is very intuitive… I kind of unconsciously work on music… when I’m dreaming or asleep, I suppose. Or underwater… Whenever there’s no instruments present / possible! Its very kind of fortuitous and magical in that way.
Music just seems to fall into place, like magic! I don’t think I can even explain it, its just so elusive! and ever more the elusive right now, as I feel at this very moment of typing, I couldn’t write a song if I was paid a million dollars… I really could not…
* Your writing?
I guess writing is more methodological, it is a process of gathering, and finding out an answer to something, a question, or seeing how long a line of exploration could go or take you.
What you write down is the process of that.
* Your films?
I used to make animations and films a lot more than I do now, these days I sometimes work on motion picture film when I have time.. but its taken a bit of a backburner the last few years.
At the moment I have a 1200 foot reel of clear 16mm film on my kitchen table that I’m colouring in frame by frame…. Its a slow burn style these days!
Worst aspect(s) of the art hustle?
I’m not sure what exactly you mean by ‘art hustle’. Do you mean living a creative life?
Its really hard to have lots of ideas, be bubbling away and overflowing with ideas and trying to live realistically. I cast aside all common sense in order to pursue art and music and all the rest of it… and I don’t regret any of it, but it got me into a heap of debt…
I need to be more realistic these days in order for my life to be sustainable… So maybe that’s the worst part about it for me – being realistic when you’re an idealist and an optimist…
Best aspect(s) of the art hustle?
I really can’t imagine any other kind of life, because living in this way gives my life meaning – a meaning that is completely devoid of materialism.
Favorite other artists, writers, musicians, and creatives?
I could go on and on here!
At the moment I’m enjoying reading books about Trevor Paglen – just because I love data and the collection of information, and that is his main focus as an artist.
For that reason I also love Sydney based Make or Break whose works are primarily user-participatory works…
Writers… Well I couldn’t name one, just because I’m book obsessed! But at the moment I’m reading this book called “The Violet Hour – Great writers at the End” by Kate Roiphe. It is very interesting so far.
The last two books before that I read were on analogue photography techniques and the history of Chernobyl.
How has the city of Sydney, Australia impacted your personal and artistic life?
Hm, I think a lot! We’re all lucky to be able to live here. Sometimes Sydney is frustrating in that it is very expensive here, it seems to be run by the 9-5 workforce, there’s not really a cool club or bar to go hang out, like a ‘club house’ for rock dogs which I wish it had – but its a city that is beautiful, physically, and I feel like I can just do my thing and not feel like a loner if I’m not present in any kind of scene for a while.
It feels accepting here – for me at least.
Aside from your solo work, you have also played in a veritable plethora of bands over the years! And we would like you to share a memory, or some tales about your experience with each of them for our readers:
* Southern Comfort?
Southern Comfort is my band with my friend Harriet Hudson. We lived together in a few houses and would write songs at home – about all kinds of stuff – our mums, cats, watching TV, feeling scared when you’re in bed at night.
We released 2 7” records which I really like and will always treasure.
* Circle Pit?
Circle Pit was my best friend Jack and I’s rock and roll dream. And we did make it our dream and live our dreams doing it.
There’s really too many experiences here to detail… Just buy the book one day – it will be an intense read, never boring!
Kiosk was the teenage punk band I had with my friends Jack and Catherine. I think the music has aged pretty well – and again – we dreamt of starting a punk band and touring the world and we managed to tour the USA, which was good enough, but we had a wild amazing time doing it! and thankfully, in the case of this band and the ones mentioned above, we managed to release records to prove it!!
For those reading at home who may be unaware – please explain the who, what, and why of your publishing imprint ‘Ruin Press’?
Ruin Press is an antipodean collective aiming to publish small run artist books. It’s an ongoing project, and we have published 6 books in nearly 5 years.
I care about this project passionately, and it is my dream to last for 10,20 years and to continue publishing books. Financing this is hard! But I’m very determined for it to keep going.
Australia lacks middle infrastructure for the arts – that is, its all DIY business and big business, and because we’re such a small population there’s nothing much in between. We need to try change this to make creative arts more sustainable. Ruin Press is trying to help this to shift.
Odds and Ends
What role did toys play in your childhood(s)?
I really can’t remember toys at all!
I loved Computer Games.
Who was your 1st crush and why?
I can’t remember!
I didn’t care as much about crushes as I did about everything else!
Does sex change everything?
Yes – and No.
Please describe what you think the Australian psyche / zeitgeist is today?
I don’t know but “Australia” needs a lot of help… or re-construction.
What are the top 3 items you own?
My Bolex 16mm camera.
My Nikon FE 35mm camera.
My Fender Highway 1 Telecaster.
Drugs – waste of time or gateway to the universe?
Drugs have never interested me personally – I like the idea of them, but in reality, not as much.
Please describe your latest dream in detail…
I can only hum it to you!
Of everything you have done what would you most like to be remembered for and why?
I don’t need to be remembered – everything turns to dust!
Yesterday’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chip wrappers.
If people wanted to submit their works for publishing, book a gig, or buy something – how should they get in touch with you?
Try to track me down! I catch a lot of buses…
Any collaborations on the horizon? Any major projects you want to hype?
Jack and I will be releasing a 12” EP that we recorded a while back and playing a few shows as Circle Pit…
Also I released a new solo LP in 2019 called the Underling…