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
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Meg x o