Perhaps best known for the melancholic characters that feature prominently in his paintings on both canvas and walls alike, Stormie Mills temporarily shifts his focus to back issues of Vogue for a brand new installation as part of the Off the Page Project now on display at Dilettante.Presented as a part of Town of Claremont's Scribbler's Festival, the project sees bespoke artworks that transform paper, print and pre-loved books exhibited across 11 businesses within the Claremont town centre.
To coincide with the opening of the festival this week, we take a moment for a chat with the beloved Perth based artist about 'Vogue Ghillie Suit' and the inspiration behind the piece...
Diana: Stormie you are already a well established artist, frequently working on projects around the world as well as having had numerous sell out shows here in Perth, why did you decide to submit a proposal for the creative learning program, Scribblers Festival?
STORMIE: Repurposing objects is something I’ve continued to do throughout my practice. My drive is to find the beauty amongst the decay - when you take something that was used for a utilitarian or ordinary purpose, and represent it with the idea of creating something that makes people see things from a perspective they may not have otherwise considered before. I thought the brief for the project was very interesting in that I could use magazines and paper to create an installation which presented an opportunity to experiment with new materials.
Were you creative as a child?
I’d like to think so, albeit a little bit misunderstood. I was always drawing and I would read a lot, something I struggled with, but I liked the informative component of reading and learning. My drawings were mostly informed by Gerald Scarfe, Quentin Blake and later on Boris Vallego.
When I turned 15 I discovered New York City graffiti in the background of music videos and movies, and I’ve been painting walls ever since.
Can you explain the idea behind your installation in our window?
Rebellion in western countries has been subjugated as a commodity. Everything turns in upon itself eventually, it goes from underground and cool, to inspirational and uniform, our individual choices become a vehicle for mass consumerism and very few are able to see this, it is in fact hidden in plain sight. The simple choice of what to wear today can be a statement, a protest, an act of dissent, a suit of armour, or camouflage, choose wisely; think, because what you wear may say more about you than you want people to know. Conformity is a sickness, the cure for which is found within and when you really know who you are, then dress like it.
What does style mean to you?
I love a John Waters quote “Technique is nothing but failed style.” Style is elusive, it isn’t something you can buy. When you’re truly comfortable with who you are you possess a confidence that projects that sense of self in a way that is evident to those you come in contact with, this to me is style.
Do you think that fashion can be art?
There is an art to all aspects of fashion, works can become a piece of art particularly couture, but art can be the step off point for fashion. It is a muse that subconsciously says something. I always think that art is a question, not an answer, so why not be fashion?
What other projects are you working on for the rest of the year?
I’ll be in Italy for a while. I’ve been invited by the Florence Biennale to show my work at the 82nd Mostra Internazionale dell'Artigianato at the historic Fortezza da Basso, and create a work on a wall while I’m there.
Then I will spend time studying Renaissance paintings and sculpture, drawing people and places, and filling pages of sketchbooks for ideas for works I’ll make when I return to the studio.
Stormie's installation is on exhibition now at Dilettante, and remains on display until Sunday the 13th of May.
For more information on the Off the Page project and the other participating artists, view the full program here.
Scribblers Festival is brought to life through a creative partnership between FORM and the Town of Claremont.
Image credit: Francis Andrijich.