You may be acquainted with the Man with a Van business that involves furniture removal but that title has a much different meaning when it comes to internationally renowned contemporary, public, performance artist and spiritual coach, Brett Ashby.
His trusty panel van spawned and sculptured his artistic and spiritual practice in more ways than one.
A child who grew up skating, surfing and listening to The Superjesus in his panel van, Ashby would go on to use the van’s exterior as his canvas at Bondi Beaches Sculpture by the Sea Festival in 2014.
Employing two half pipes upon a mountain top, Ashby used his skateboard as a vehicle for his artwork, rolling backwards and forth on the pipes whilst painting his masterpiece; the movement connecting him to his work.
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“What I’m doing in the art making process is understanding more about myself and I’m also understanding more from the people. Whilst in the public space, people are telling me what I’m doing and I’m also figuring that out too. It’s all part of consciousness and mindfulness and mindset thinking where everyone is always evolving and that’s what the paintings are all about,” he explains.
Combining his multifaceted skills, interests and art application to develop a unique practice of aura portrait painting, Brett extended his artistic arm to specialise in live performative aura portray painting of musicians.
“All of these pieces are always me channelling the chakra energy and that representation in the shape of the subject which is what people are seeing. I’m interested in working with musicians because of the throat chakra and how they communicate their spirit through their songs.”
It’s here that we take you back to the panel van adventures as Sarah McLeod of The Superjesus becomes his subject.
“10 years later here I am meeting Sarah, walking out with her to an audience of up to 200 people in a theatre and painting her portrait while skating,” Ashby recalls.
“Sarah didn’t see the painting until after the event and in a way that’s the celebration; it’s a thank you to Sarah for your music and she says thank you Brett for this portrait at different stages of our journey.”
Developing his practice inside the walls of Pentridge Prison turned art space as a resident artist, Brett Ashby will be presenting his upcoming online exhibition Frequency, consisting of two feature films, as part of Melbourne Fringe Festival.
The two films see Ashby create works of deceased musicians, Michael Jackson, and Jimi Hendrix, exploring his holistic approach and energy-sourcing artistic practice without the presence of the subject.
“I’ve painted nine deceased musicians already. What it’s done has allowed me to see myself in those subjects, almost mirroring childhood aspects of my life past. In a way I can see myself when I was listening to Michael Jackson or with someone else experiencing a time of importance that involved Michael Jackson in my life,” Ashby explains.
“It is very fascinating that this has come out of me working at Pentridge where there is a lot of that energy there from all of the things that have happened within the prison and I’m really loving the process of working there. I won’t know until I’ve finished the paintings what it all means either. I’m healing myself, I’m healing the energy in Pentridge, I’m healing the subject I’m painting, and, on top of that, the person that sits and watches my film will receive a healing as well.”
Combined with the soothing sonic backdrop of the handpan drum, singing bowls, gongs, harmonic overtone singing, and the atmospheric sound of the skateboard, this display will generate a flow between body and soul and is a must-see experience.
Event information and tickets for Frequency presented by Brett Ashby can be found here.
WORDS BY TAMMY WALTERS