On the Couch with Kate McMillan

Kate McMillan oncWho is Kate McMillan?
Australian contemporary artist based in London.

What would you do differently to what you do now?  
Not much really – I have generally always been quite clear in my mind about what I have wanted and tried to balance seemingly risky life choices with being really organized and planning for the worst. It would have been nice of course to suddenly be surrounded with loads of cash so I can do all the projects in my head and not have to work so hard to pay the bills – but I guess that is not remarkable.

Who inspires you and why?
Other women artists – both historical and contemporary. Women like Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse and Hannah Hoch – and more recently people like Laura Prouvost and Lindsay Seers. There is still an incredible bias against women in the art world and it takes enormous resilience and hard work to overcome.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
For as long as I remember I have thought that on many levels art-making is quite selfish and that perhaps redistributing my energy towards the inequities of the world would be so much more relevant. But art is what I do and I think it is important to have artists who sit on the perimeter of society and think about it and visualize it, particularly in the current political climate. At some point I would like to foster children as a way of giving back what my foster family gave to me.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Now that I am living in London I do that incredibly clichéd English thing of craving sun and beach. Next summer we head to Milos in Greece for a couple of weeks.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
I am renowned for making exhausting schedules for all my guests. London is such a great city, full of amazing museums, restaurants, gardens, galleries and buildings. Often I book friends into the Dennis Severs museum, take them to the Horniman Museum and other leftovers from all those crazy Victorians who built the city we see today. I also love the theatre and use guests as an excuse to see something fabulous.

What are you currently reading?
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan. I think he is one of the greatest contemporary writers in the world today. There are a few of his books in my top 20. And I am also reading the book Ariel by Sylvia Plath. Often a line from a book or a poem is the starting point for a new project.

What are you currently listening to?
Silence.

Happiness is?
Great food. Great art. Lots of travel. And at other (more rare) times, a box set and pj’s…

What does the future hold for you?
Hopefully more of the above inter-dispersed with many more opportunities to make and present new work. I feel incredibly uncomfortable and anxious unless I have 20 things on the go at once. I have stopped trying to resist my compulsion for extreme busyness and now I just realize it is who I am.

Kate McMillan is an Australian artist based in London. Her work explores the persistence of difficult histories in the present. McMillan has exhibited around the world and in Australia over the last twenty years including at the Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai (2014); Acem Project Space, London (2014); Trafco Contemporary Art Centre, Poland (2013); and the Biennale of Sydney (2010).

A publication on her practice will be launched to coincide with the conclusion of The Moment of Disappearance at Performance Space. More of her work can be seen at www.katemcmillan.net

Kate’s immersive landscape of sound and video installation The Moment of Disappearance in collaboration with Cat Hope will be presented at Carriageworks as part of Performance Space: Buruwan 6 – 29 November 2014. For more information, visit: www.performancespace.com.au for details.

Image: Kate McMillan

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