Obsessed with keeping mementos? So was Chris Town, until he discarded them all to create his stark collage art

Sydney-based artist Chris Town is obsessed with keeping records. In a rejection of current social media trends and our obsession with cloud-based chronicling, he chooses instead to take physical mementos of his daily experiences.

His last exhibition, Proof of Life at China Heights Gallery, Town has taken these mementos and collaged them onto stark, white canvas. The memories these everyday objects illicit have grown hazy, and that’s the feeling Town is capturing.

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Bringing the unclarity of times gone by to a whitened, unclear reality, Chris Town’s Proof of Life exhibition is a bleak dream on canvas.

HAPPY: Can you briefly describe yourself and briefly describe your career as an artist?

CHRIS: I was born and raised in Sydney and now live in Adelaide with my wife, with whom I run a stationery label called AHD Paper Co. I have been making art of some sort all my life and exhibit on a semi regular basis.

HAPPY: Can you describe your exhibition, Proof of Life?

CHRIS: Proof of Life is a show of mixed media works on canvas by myself and works on glass by Will Lynes.

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HAPPY: How did this collaboration come about?

CHRIS: Will and I have been friends since we went to Enmore Tafe together back in 2001, we have always wanted to exhibit together – this show is 15 years in the making.

HAPPY: Where did you get your inspiration for Proof of Life from?

CHRIS: I have this burning desire to express myself and I think at its essence is really my ego, I need to somehow prove that I was on this earth in a unique way. In conversations with Will we found a common ground in this need and motivation to create. Our art will be our proof of life.

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HAPPY: The China Heights website describes how you take physical mementos from daily life. Have you ever considered making a one second a day video to chronicle your experiences? What is your opinion of these?

CHRIS: To be honest I’m not overly drawn to video as a medium, but in saying that I am interested in chronological record keeping and am about to start work on some daily works, using only what is collected on a given day. I do like the idea of putting constraints on your practice such as material and colours.

HAPPY: What was your favourite artwork to create in this exhibition? Why?

CHRIS: I can’t choose a favourite, there are definitely a few paintings that I wouldn’t mind taking home with me but I can’t choose a favourite.

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HAPPY: What advice would you give to aspiring artists?

CHRIS: Don’t wait for inspiration, just keep making art.

HAPPY: I once interviewed an artist who said you go to art school and once you start working as an artist you have to set about forgetting everything you learned. What are your thoughts on this?

CHRIS: I have dropped out of two prominent art schools, so I may not be the best person to ask this question. I feel art school is  good for technique, and it definitely helps with the career side of being an artist but as far as shaping you as an artist I think it works for some and not for others, but education is never a bad thing in my opinion and in my brief experience I found being surrounded by peers in the same field somewhat rewarding. I do also strongly believe it is important to study who came before you.