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Art of influence: in-conversation with Sydney luminaries

29 September 2020
Marc Newson, Dr Bronwyn Bancroft and Shaun Gladwell
Hosted by Sydney College of the Arts and Sydney Ideas, the Art of Influence in-conversation series invites alumni to talk about how they made their mark, shaped the landscape and strive for positive impact in what they do.

We recently caught up with three world renowned artists and SCA alumni to talk about their careers, artistic practice and the themes that inform their work. Here, we share with you a brief summary from each talk – a full transcript and podcast of each talk is available from the links below.

Our speakers


Marc Newson, CBE

Meet Marc Newson, CBE

One of the most influential designers of his generation, Industrial Designer Marc Newson counts in his client list Nike, Louis Vuitton, Qantas – to name a few. His work is held in the collections of many major museums including MoMA, Centre Pompidou, V&A and the Powerhouse Museum.

After graduating from the SCA in 1986, his first solo exhibition at the age of 23 featured his Lockheed Lounge a riveted aluminium chaise longue that has arguably become one of the most iconic contemporary design works.

Speaking with our host Andrew Lavery, SCA Director, Marc reflects on his time at art school and about how it informed his career. He talks about how the practical skills of learning how to create objects is what benefitted him most.

I love learning how to do things, how to create things, how to make things, how to build things, and it was one of the most practically sort of oriented departments that I could have found myself in.
Marc Newson, CBE

Marc’s love of learning didn’t stop at university. As an Industrial Designer, Marc works across many different types and forms from ceramic; carbon fibre; micarta to metal; wood to plastic and glass.

‘I like to jump from the different areas of industry, you know, I like to work with different materials because, you know, learning is such an important part of, of what I do and every new material, every new process, every new technique that you can expose yourself to, will make the next venture that much more. Not that much easier, but that much more satisfying.’ he said.

When asked what advice he would give to young designers who want to become design leaders, he talks about the importance of being able to do things yourself eg. creating your own company or by creating and marketing your own products as well as gaining professional experience.

‘I think it's always important to have professional experience and you know, perhaps whether that be working with a design agency, a design firm or whatever. But I think you know, developing a bit of independence, that can help you in so many ways.

Read the transcript | Listen to the podcast


Dr Bronwyn Bancroft

Dr Bronwyn Bancroft

Bronwyn Bancroft has carved an impressive career with an iconic style that traverses various worlds of contemporary art, costume and fashion design, children’s book illustration and community activism.

An experienced artist and proud Bundjalung Woman, Dr Bancroft’s work is held in collections at the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of Western Australia, the university, Parliament House Art Collection, State Library of New South Wales, State Library of Victoria, Australian Museum, MAAS and Artbank.

Speaking with our host curator, writer and arts consultant Nicholas Tsoutas, Bronwyn reflects on her childhood growing up in Tenterfield, Northern NSW - where her love for art began - to where she is now.

‘It's always been a way of rewarding myself creatively, and making myself feel better, making my family's history come to life, making the history of the struggles and people in my family predominantly the major focus of my art career,’ she said.

In addition to her art, her role as a mother and now a grandmother, Bronwyn works on many different levels. She is heavily involved in advocating for Aboriginal rights and women’s rights which has led her to be acknowledged and invited to the Board of National Gallery and has also brought her to the chair of the New South Wales Aboriginal Visual Arts Committee.

One of the things that I always say to my children is, you get one life, live three. So there's no point getting to your deathbed and having regrets. I mean, you must exploit, explore, and, you know, get into that life you've got.
Dr Bronwyn Bancroft

Shaun Gladwell

Shaun Gladwell

Shaun Gladwell’s work tackles, stretches and tears at the fringes of society and reality. He’s put skateboarding and graffiti into galleries, experimented with opera, and put virtual art on the market for sale.

With his work spanning across moving image, painting, photography, sculpture, installation, performance and virtual reality, Shaun chats with Blair French, CEO, Carriageworks about his career journey in this special in-conversation session.

When asked what drew him to art school, he says that it was his love of drawing and thinking about the world visually.

And I loved visual culture. I loved, I just loved this idea of maybe trying it, seeing what it would be like to go to art school. I think art school was a real romantic idea for me, beyond being a professional artist, which you apparently learnt how to do at art school.
Shaun Gladwell

Shaun shares his thinking about working back and forth across different media forms throughout his career. 

'I think that idea that, that you don't have to be sort of, or you think of an idea, perhaps and then the medium, or would then be that, you could select somehow, as the most kind of appropriate way to deliver the idea; rather than having to kind of process all the ideas through a medium, although that's not a problem,' he said. 

'Because if anyone's committed to a particular, you know, practice, then that's a specialisation. And I'm really terrible jack of all trades, you know, but I just like that idea of giving it a go, you know.'

Read the transcript | Listen to the podcast

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