In Conversation: Saxon Quinn

Saxon Quinn creates mixed media works starting with a concrete base built up on marine ply. We were intrigued to learn that this textured foundation is anything but random, but rather finely tuned by rubbing in oils and sanding areas to create the perfect surface ready to apply the minimal geometric compositions Saxon is known for.

Read our interview for more on Saxon’s creative process and Calm Stumble, his current solo exhibition showing at Modern Times.

Can you tell us a little bit about the title of this exhibition?

The title is me and the makings of this show. Day to day I can be a pretty stressed and anxious person, I tend to dwell on things not worth dwelling over but once I begin the process of creating work, it all seems to settle and I can fully concentrate on the art at hand.

‘Calm Stumble’ is a strong and cohesive collection of work. Was there a lot of planning involved pulling this body of work together or did you create these pieces intuitively as you progressed? 

To be honest, Calm Stumble happened intuitively, however I always plan each piece in stages: freehand sketch, quick computer mock up for positioning and colour, final sketch on the actual canvas, paint, scribble. As one piece is finished I hang it next to the one I’m about to begin until I have each piece sitting next to one another.

Options, an original mixed media by Saxon Quinn. Saxon pays a great deal of attention to perfecting the texture and surface of the concrete base before building up the composition of geometric shapes and marks.

Can you reveal a little about your process in making work. Where do you start, is it straight to the paint or do you need to plan and sketch?

As mentioned above I begin by sketching out the work, but before I do this, I construct and create the canvas by using marine ply and concrete, once I get to the concrete stage, I work with the textures by rubbing oils into it, sanding areas and other techniques. This helps to pave the way for my sketches, working with the markings and so on.

We love that your work is mixed media. Do you have a favourite medium and is there any other mediums you would like to explore?

I love concrete at the moment. I’d like to create some sort of form using both concrete and rusted metal (steel) at some stage. I’m also going to have a play with lightweight fibre reinforced concrete.

Saxon is inspired by the urban environment, particularly the random markings he observes on footpaths, walls, doors and signage which he translates into his work.

This recent body of work has been influenced by recent travels. How does travel and experiencing new places influence your work? 

I guess it’s the fact that I’m often just wandering around by foot when travelling which gives me a chance to look around more.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Wake up at 6am, coffee, check emails and respond to any slack notifications, gym, take the dog for a walk, work on Trotter (a travel start-up) whether that’s designing, product or content. If I’m working on a body of work I will generally set aside the entire weekend for that, or dedicate half days through the week. Of late, I’ve been heading back to Allendale in the country to work on pieces, where there is much more room to create frames and make a mess. I then bring each piece back as a raw concrete base and do the finishing touches here in Melbourne.

Calm Stumble, Saxon's current exhibition, combines beautifully with the restrained aesthetic of a Dieter Rams wall unit.

Can you tell us a bit about the geometry in your work? How did this come about and what have you uncovered exploring this?

A bit of this came from my design background, as well as just looking at random markings on footpaths, walls, doors, signage and other bits and pieces.

I think I’ve uncovered that less can be more, especially when working with something like concrete as it by itself can be pretty visually pleasing.

In terms of growth within your practice, what do you feel has been the biggest lesson?

Less is more and learning when enough is enough. Also, giving yourself 24hours before continuing on a piece that you’re 80% sure is right. I used to, and still do end up cocking up pieces by adding one too many things.

Quick-fire questions: 

What time do you get up in the morning?

6am

If you weren’t a designer what would you be doing? 

A full-time artist

What are you listening to at the moment (music and/or podcast)? 

Music: Rhye, Padma Purana, Upper Class
Podcasts: Joe Rogan (only when he has someone that interests me on) Congratulations with Chris Delia, Conan Needs a friend, How I built this, Stuff You Should Know, Bill Burr

What’s your signature dish?

Carne Asada tacos from scratch. I’ve also been going a bit too far with homemade pepperoni pizza of late.

If you could purchase one thing for your home, and money was no object, what would it be? 

An extra room.

Where to next on your travel destination wish list? 

 Sri Lanka

 

Saxon finds time in the studio calms the mind.

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