Due to my rebellious nature I was thrown out of every art class in high school, except for my first year with a wonderful old woman named Isabel Huntington who praised my figures and put them up in the classroom window for all the passing school to see. John and the Id, Wendy Saddington and the Chain.
Toby's travels - Mill Park Touring Caravan & Camping Park
At 21 I travelled across Australia and over to India where I hit the road till I was 26, taking LSD till I could control the nightmares and finally bliss out, smoking hash and living communally with freaks from the top of the Himalayas to the beaches of Goa, and all over India in between. All the time I practiced drawing and painting, inspired by Hindu art of their calendars, murals and temples, and Mughal miniatures. We threw his body in the Ganges river in I then hitched overland to Greece and the Island of Crete in , came back to Auz thinking my own country and culture would be the best place to contribute my art practice.
I did about 21 silk-screen posters, most of which are in the National Gallery in Canberra Collection. His name was Eddie van der Madden , he was an electronics genius and he built his own animation cameras. I went to his studio and was smitten, animation was the art for me and for the next twenty years obsessively lost my life inside that difficult, labour intensive art form.
From my first arrival in Sydney I was squatting, first in Darlinghurst then in I moved to Pyrmont squats, where I stayed for 12 years doing all my art and films from there, using free rent to pay for all my needed materials and the freewheeling nature of squatting to make a mess with paints and rubber latex masks, and the community living giving me aid in building of models and painting of animation cells.
But in , at age 46, I had good luck, I was flown to France for the Trash Film festival and competition, I won half the prize money, toured Amsterdam, France, Portugal and Morocco on the prize money and realised Australia was a backwater at the bottom of the world, my bubble had been burst and I could escape to the greater world if I wanted to.
In I raised the money to go back to India which I found was as a wild and freakish as ever, Goa trance music was peaking, mobile phones, cars and shopping malls had not arrived yet and I had the greatest time. I have been going back every years since, raising the money needed by working as night palliative care nurse in most of the hospitals, clinics and nursing homes in Sydney.
I freaked out at the cop frame-up experience and had to have psychiatric intervention but going to trial, being acquitted on a case of mistaken identity, then winning Freakzone and travelling the world, I have indeed risen like a phoenix, absolutely enjoyed my life, dancing ecstatically in abandon in Goa, communing with Freaks around the camp fire, trekking the high Himalayas, and in Sydney being on my toes nursing, solving problems scientifically as the buck stopped with me the charge nurse, realizing all our humanity and my humility as I sat with hundreds of dying people, wiping their bums, cleaning up the body fluids, it was good for my hubris.
I discovered my name Toby Zoates in while watching TV. I was dreaming that I needed a catchy household name as my real name is too banal for an art loving public to remember.
All of this informs my art and writing. The process I go through to create my art, from drawings, paintings, murals to animation, is to obviously first have a bee in my bonnet about some subject, for instance nuclear armaments and uranium mining. I then research it, newspapers, books, films and photos, to get the image of a mushroom cloud, a nuclear reactor, a ruined city after a blast, a tsunami wave, the logo of an electricity company such as General Electric.
I then map out on a big piece of paper a kind of road map, a grid, a kind of dividing the theme s up so that one image can read like a comic book.
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I then draw the images over and over again, rubbing them out and trying again till I got the look I want. Rarely I trace the image off my computer screen or I get some friend or object to model for me. I then color it in, either using the full palette of the 7 colors of the rainbow or decide to stick to just a few colors, placing them beside me and ignoring the rest.
I try to balance the colors, not having the same color in one area or on too many designs. As a civilisation and an animal species we are on the brink of destruction, either through nuclear war, germ warfare, pandemics, environmental destruction, climate change, famine, neo-fascist dictatorship, enslavement of the majority, inequality of wealth, I can go on and on….. And in my mind it is the responsibility of all human endeavour, the arts, politics, education, the media, to confront our dilemma and try to ameliorate it, improve our chances at freedom and survival, or at least discuss it, not bury our heads in the sand, as much of the arts seem to do.
I worked on it for 21 years, rewriting it 21 times, mostly while in India from on, having nothing else to do as there was no TV, cafes or rock clubs to get distracted by. Worst aspect of contemporary art hustle is the nastiness of many of the wannabes, willing to plagiarise, stab in the back, push out of the way, lie, fuck, steal, nepotism, infiltrate the grants boards, suck up to brain dead, boring fat arsed bureaucrats, sell their grandmothers to third world brothels, for the money, the ideas, the kudos, the cachet of being the grand artist — and the little gold statue to masturbate with.
I had seen many Troma films such as Toxic Avenger and my lead actress was going to New York to visit her family so I told her to go to Troma and give a pitch. I then went on to win the Trash Film Fest in France in and was vindicated as many bureaucrats at the Australian Film Commission tried to stop the production, in the beginning and halfway through. It has since shown all around the world in many formats and I continue to show it on the Australian underground circuit. How has living in Government Social Housing changed in the close to 30 years you have been living in Northcott? The Daily Terror has called us slum rats and a thieves kitchen.
My greatest fear is the Housing Dept handing Northcott over to the nasty, greedy developers and throwing us old paupers out on the streets. But for now, I go to bed with great relief that for one more night I can rest safe in my bed. Show Prices. Like saving money? We search up to sites for the lowest prices. Toby's travels.
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