On the Couch with Christopher Trotter

Christopher-Trotter-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Christopher Trotter?
I’m a Queensland artist living on the edge of a small rural town called Boonah (just outside of Brisbane). For the last 30 years or so I have been creating artworks from re-claimed materials. Of particular interest to me are discarded metal objects in all their wondrous forms. My ideas are constructed around the architecture of these pre-existing shapes and to repurpose them in a way where integrity is not lost. I enjoy combining their inherent forces to create new unique entities – ones with a sense of life, movement and humour. The new forms incite viewers to imagine it in an impossible reality while the realisation of actual objects evoke memories.

My primary focus has been on the creation of public artworks. To date I’ve created over 50 public pieces across Australia – That’s an exciting statistic but also makes me feel a little old. 🙂 Over the years I have realised how important community engagement is in the process of creating a successful piece of public art. I love the idea of using materials that come from the region that make the work special and unique. The artwork becomes a time capsule that can recount local stories and memories. I have enjoyed dealing with people that would not normally be involved in the arts.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I’d live near the beach and surf more regularly. I generally dislike exercise for the sake of exercise. Surfing is one of those activities that’s so good for you in so many ways. I also wish I had taken up playing music earlier… and dancing! … not professionally mind you, but just being comfortable with oneself on the dance floor – it feels so good and I’m sure it’s good for you. Oh I nearly forgot. I’d be much better at ‘wheel standing’ my pushbike. I love a long wheel stand! Not too late I guess. 🙂

Who inspires you and why?
Probably different people at different times. In the early part of my career I would say H.R Giger. If you don’t know who that is, well he’s the guy who designed Alien. Apart from freaking me out as a kid when I first saw the movie on the big screen at the Paris Cinema in Brisbane in 1979, he is famous for his paintings and sculptures. His ‘bio-mechanical erotica’ air brush paintings depicting human forms and parts thereof that somehow blended machine and organic shapes were of particular interest. This lead me to the creation of numerous sculptures that I have also described as being ‘bio-mechanical’. My favourite works I created from this period are two that I still own: Reptilian Penis Machine and Vagina Dentata.

I live in a community that are very much into sustainability so i feel they’ve had an impact on my thoughts and artistic process too. Earlier Madmax films must’ve had an influence but I don’t want to talk about it… Dr Seuss , Tim Burton, Shaun Tan are amongst others of influence.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Is this one of those ‘if I had a magic wand’ type questions?. If so, things on my to do list would include: to de-centralise power stations – it’s an antiquated crazy system. End world traffic. I hate traffic with a passion. I think Covid has made us realise we all don’t need to drive into a central hub where we sit stuck in traffic for hours ripping up time and precious fossil fuels, all the while polluting the environment.

Imagine for a moment if all our cars and trucks pumped out yellow smoke that we could see! We wouldn’t be doing this to our planet… but because it’s invisible we trick ourselves and pretend nothing bad is happening. We have come to a point in time where sustainability means everything. We, as individuals, have the power to be creative. We have the power to devise environmentally sound solutions to our problems.

What is your favourite holiday destination?
Generally it’s to spend time near the water and wild places. Creeks and oceans are probably a favourite.

When friends comes to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I live in the Scenic Rim in Queensland. We have so many natural wonders at our doorstep to show visitors. The bird life here is sensational. My shed is up there as a favourite. I have been collecting all kinds of crazy objects for the last 30 years. My friends generally get a kick out of seeing old school and old cool.

I’m really passionate about what I create so showing others my art (and not just the objects) about the property is also a buzz. A must see in my hometown of Boonah is the Blumbergville Clock. Standing 7 metres high this functioning art piece goes off on the hour in an unexpected manner. Guess who made it? 😉 If all else fails, I’ve got a 2 door Torana and a friend with a Tigermoth!

What are you currently reading?
Tea leaves… palms. I don’t want to answer this question as it’s hard to without seeming a little bit of a dumbie… Anyway here goes… I actually read very little. I have never been much good at it. My eyes jump ahead, I want to get to the point, but I don’t want to spend heaps of time comprehending the sentences that lie ahead. I guess I’ve felt a bit threatened by the typed word and the speed at which one is expected to read it… especially in my younger years. I actually enjoy writing these days which is weird… but I guess that’s because I’m in control of the speed of the event. Anyway, until I take a chill pill and realise there is no pressure on me (except my own), I’ll stick predominantly to reading streets signs ,taking in visuals, and listening.

What are you currently listening to?
Well, having said all that above about my reading issues, I really should get into a few audio books hey? The pressure would be off and I might learn something hey? I’m the kind of person who hates those around me that say they have just ‘read’ another book! … when, in fact, they have just ‘listened’ to book being read to them. 🙂

Jokes aside, I do like listening to a good story as long as it gets to a point regularly. Regarding music, I’m the kind of person that plays a song till death do us part..,so I move on quite regularly. I do love synthesizers and music that is kind of organic and moves about. Poly rhythms are very cool to hear in a tune – especially on a great sound system. I do like a killer drop. I listen to all genres of music – from Superorganism to Jon Hopkins to Cypress Hill to Johnny Cash. Oh, I do enjoy listening to bird noises too… but maybe not a Rooster so much at 3.00am

Happiness is?
A brown dog. I find I say that quite regularly. Who cannot enjoy and find happiness from patting a big, loveable, noble and gentle brown dog each morning.

What does the future hold for me?
Kinetic elements are very exciting in artworks. I’m particularly interested in light, sound and fire at the moment. I like the term ‘Non Fungible Tokens’ too. Stay tuned I guess.

Christopher’s installation, Sea Shore A Sea Saw will be on display at the 2021 SWELL Sculpture Festival on Queensland’s Gold Coast from 10 – 19 September. For more information, visit: www.swellsculpture.com.au for details.

Image: Christopher Trotter – photo by Nick Rains