On the Couch with Steve Sumpton

Steve Sumpton AAR On the CouchWho is Steve Sumpton?
It’s taken a lot to get to a point where I can confidently say that I’m a contemporary fine-art photographer, but after a busy and productive year I feel like I’m there now. My debut solo exhibition is currently showing at Mister Morris in Preston.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
For the first time I feel like I’m doing what I was always meant to do. If I could change anything I would have taken a chance on myself sooner and ignored that voice in my head telling me I’d fail.

Who inspires you and why?
Growing up I admired my friend’s dad. He was always trying something new, and I thought that was fantastic. Cooking, sports, performing arts, visual arts… You name it and he had already tried it or, it was on his list. I don’t think I’m very good at sitting still for too long, so I guess it’s no surprise that I admire people who are prepared to try something new.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I think we’re all really bad at listening to each other; myself included. The vast majority of people are perfectly reasonable and respectful but because we’re so bad at listening, there’s a massive divide between communities. That’s definitely one of the drives behind my work. I can’t make people listen, but perhaps I can help start a conversation.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I’ve lived in Melbourne almost my entire life and one of the best holidays I’ve had was staying in the city with friends who were visiting. In fact I’ve done it a couple of times. You get to see your home city from a completely different perspective, it’s super relaxing, and you don’t have to spend hours on a plane to get there!

When friends come to town, what attractions would you take them to and why?
The hidden bars and cafes in the city that a lot of tourists would miss out on. That’s the kind of thing I look for when I travel.

What are you currently reading?
I just finished reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, and have just started on Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

What are you currently listening to?
So Spotify created a ‘most played in 2017’ playlist for me, and it’s great because I don’t have to keep skipping songs that I’m bored of. The playlist heavily features The Wombats, Josef Salvat, The Shins and The xx. Oh, and I’m also the crazy person on the tram who laughs non-stop for half an hour while I listen to the My Dad Wrote a Porno podcast.

Happiness is?
Why is this the most difficult question? I think as artists we put so much of ourselves into our work, and then send it out into the world for all to consume, judge, dismiss, embrace… When someone connects with my work, that’s probably one of the most rewarding things.

What does the future hold for you?
After the exhibition wraps up I’ll be looking for my next project to work on. I have a couple of collaborative ideas that are fairly ambitious, but I’m also open to getting in on other people’s projects too.

Steve’s debut solo exhibition, Through the Screen is currently on display at Mister Morris Gallery as part of the 2018 Midsumma Festival until 8 February. For more information, visit: www.stevesumpton.com or www.midsumma.org.au for details.

Image: Steve Sumpton (supplied)