Bold Interview 13: Peter Drew

Hey Bold Soul! You probably recognise Peter Drew’s “Real Aussie Say Welcome” posters – photos of them have been widely shared around social media. Peter agreed to be interviewed here, and I asked him about how that and subsequent “Aussie” poster projects came about. Enjoy! M x o

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Why did you decide to start your “Real Aussies Say Welcome” and “Aussie” poster projects? Why are you so passionate about the Australian Governments policies to help/harm refugees and immigrants?

Before 2013 my art was apolitical, but something changed during the election. Both major parties were falling over one another with promises to ‘stop the boats’ and that phrase struck me as absurd coming from a nation of immigrants. I was living in Glasgow at the time and I suddenly felt quite confronted by Australia’s identity. Ever since then my art has been concerned with national identity, especially to notion of ‘welcome’.

Happy women holding 'Real Australians Say Welcome' in a city street

Why posters? What makes you think your poster art can make a difference?

I’m an artist first and foremost, so I focus on the task of expanding the human imagination. That’s my job. I try not to think about making a difference beyond that because the weight of responsibility can often feel too great.

Peter Drew Arts posters and helpers

Tell us some stories about meeting people on your ‘poster posting’ travels. What range of responses do you get when you tell or show people what you’re doing? Anything unexpected?

I visited a Sikh Gurdwara in Perth where they gave me an opportunity to speak about the project. Afterwards I installed posters of Bhagwan Singh and Monga Khan. My mate Harjit from Turbans and Trust explained to me that Sikhism is all for respecting other religions, so it makes sense that they would welcome Monga Khan as a Muslim.

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What is your creative process like? Is this different when it’s something personal vs. a movie etc commissioned by a client?

I find it very satisfying to work for clients because it’s an escape. I can forget about my own concerns and enter into the mind of someone else and tell their story. Each time I work for a client it renews my enthusiasm for my own work.

full set of 7 AUSSIE posters by Peter Drew Arts, pasted on a white wall with the road showing in the foreground, with yellow dashed painted markings

Photo portrait of Peter Drew by Rebecca Mansell

Photograph of Peter Drew by Rebecca Mansell (Perth 2105)

Peter Drew was born in 1983 in Adelaide. He holds a Masters Degree from the Glasgow School of Art. His artworks have been exhibited at the Art Gallery of South Australia and the National Gallery of Australia, though his most prominent work is installed on city streets.
“I like to exhibit my art on the street because public space is a great equaliser, and it’s also an ancient forum. When you address the public through the street you’re entering into a tradition that emphasises our fundamental freedom of expression, over the value of property… I enjoy examining our collective identities and my aim is always to emphasize the connections that bind up, rather than the fractures that divide us.
Peter produces videos for people in creative industries. He especially enjoys working with smaller companies, independent makers or anyone who loves their work. He’s based in Adelaide but can work anywhere in Australia. Click this to email Peter about your project. Or click this to see Peter’s website.
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Peter: Thanks for visiting to tell us about your art & message of identity and connection!
(Hey, random thought: Install posters at Pokemon stops!)

Bold Soul: I hope you enjoyed meeting Peter Drew. It’s inspiring when people of all walks speak up in ways that they can!

Talk soon!
Meg x o

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PS 2017 Bold Art Calendars have already started going to good homes! Get yours early – particularly if you’ve already started stapling your January 2017 appointments onto the back of your December 2016 page! Click this to check out the new cover art.

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