On the Couch with Andrew Stephens

Andrew-Stephens-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Andrew Stephens?
Labels are handy – visual arts writer, bookworm, gardener – but they are limiting. Hopefully my work contributes to the world by helping to bring artists’ ideas and the richness of local history into the public consciousness. The recently opened City Gallery show I curated, You Are Cordially Invited, values the present by examining the past via the Melbourne Town Hall, an amazing social hub.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
Not much. Lockdown has been wonderful to readjust things that go out of kilter in the busyness of life: hopefully I am living a considered life focused on contributing rather than consuming and criticising.

Who inspires you and why?
The unfamous and humble teachers in my personal orbit, who mostly don’t know they are my teachers. And Hannah Gadsby, who is well-known – and clever and insightful.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Use my skills – and the arts can be powerful on this front – to encourage people to know they can make big differences with courageous choices. See Hannah Gadsby, above.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Our own backyard in Australia and New Zealand – there’s everything from rainforest to deserts to beaches to urban culture. What more could you want?

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
The Peninsula Hot Springs. A ridiculously indulgent fun park where all you wear is your bathers and a relaxed smile. It’s divine on a wintry day when it’s not crowded.

What are you currently reading?
Fiction: the powerful and moving works of the late US writer Octavia E. Butler. Non-fiction: How to Rewire Your Brain by John B. Arden. Mine is now under reconstruction.

What are you currently listening to?
Everything by Parra for Cuva, Holy Ghost’s remix album Work for Hire and some 1980s vinyl gems such as Tom Tom Club’s eponymous debut – which includes the stellar, hilarious Wordy Rappinghood.

Happiness is?
Being in the here and now as much as possible: happiness = happening.

What does the future hold for you?
Clearly not a crystal ball, or I’d know what’s coming… but hopefully, on a professional front, more opportunities to bring to public notice challenging artists and chunks of Melbourne history, as I have been able to do with this new Melbourne Town Hall exhibition.

Andrew is the exhibition curator of You Are Cordially Invited – celebrating Melbourne Town Hall’s 150 years at the heart-centre of city life – currently on display at City Gallery, Melbourne Town Hall until 19 March 2021. For more information, visit: www.melbourne.vic.gov.au for details.

Image: Andrew Stephens (supplied)