How life in Western Sydney inspires award winning artist Khaled Sabsabi
Khaled Sabsabi, a multimedia artist based in Western Sydney was recently awarded the NSW Government’s inaugural Western Sydney Arts Fellowship.
He’ll use the grant to create new art works, a catalogue and consolidate his previous works and publish a digital artist’s monograph. We chat to Khaled about the fellowship and what he plans to accomplish in 2016.
How did you get into multi-media site installations and art?
I was introduced to multiple art forms while studying for my postgraduate degree at University of New South Wales. The change from analogue to a digital environment in early 2000 made technology especially audio-visual accessible and affordable. I think it was a combination of education, experience and a natural progression in technology that eventually saw me specialise in multimedia.
Why did you decide to apply for the fellowship and how will it help in the development of your career?
The fellowship will allow me to consolidate over 30 pieces of work that I’ve developed throughout the course of my career, spanning both analogue and digital periods. The consolidation of my work into a digital monograph will help curation for future exhibitions and make my work open to Australian and international possibilities.
How has living and working in Western Sydney informed and inspired your work?
I lived in Western Sydney after we moved to Australia from Lebanon and grew up there. The diversity and the richness of the culture is the future picture of what Australia could be. It’s a wonderful place to learn and experience more; that’s what inspires and excites me about Western Sydney. It does have its challenges of course like anything else. But where there are challenges, beautiful things happen. Good art happens at the fringes of society.
You are the Creative Producer, Community Cultural Engagement at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, how do you find balance between your own practice as a celebrated international artist and the local community?
It has to be approached with the utmost integrity. You have to be clear in terms of what the self is, in terms of the creative process and your professional role in the community. It needs sacrifice in terms of my time; I don’t socialise that often, and spend a lot of time in the studio working. When I’m not working, I spend time with my family.
What have been the most influential moments of your career?
There are many moments which have contributed to my overall experience and expression [as an artist]. My partner, having children and the joy that comes with it is my most fantastic highlight to date. My partner and children are the anchor of my practice and my artistic career.
What are your observations of current arts practice in Western Sydney?
I believe the talent in Western Sydney is phenomenal and artists are choosing to live and work here. I often talk with the other artists and we’re like a group of friends; we respect and regard one another highly, also look for ways to support each other. I feel there’s a real sense of camaraderie among artists here. Western Sydney also has a long history of arts activism and cultural development. If it weren’t for those visionary people in the 80s and 90s that engaged in developing arts in the region, we probably wouldn’t be here now.
In 2016, what are you most excited by – as a practitioner or as an audience member?
I think a bit of both. I’m looking forward to taking time off work to further grow my learning and experiences both nationally and internationally. I want to focus on creating work so I’m really excited about the opportunity to do just that through my fellowship.
What advice do you have for other artists, particularly those in Western Sydney?
Embrace your environment, embrace your experiences and be inspired by it. It’s become quite easy to be connected to the arts scene and art world regardless of where you live unlike before when you had to live in the city centre to be visible and that’s a good thing.
To find out more about the Western Sydney Arts Fellowship, please click here.