When I first met Steph Fuller, she struck me as a local icon, who is well known for her impeccable skills in visual arts. A radiant and bubbly individual, Steph brings her talent to the Adelaide Fringe this year, with her exhibition - Deep Space. Described as "an immersive moving-image experience that explores the extraterrestrial", Steph caught my curiosity and attention as she presented the idea behind her exhibition. I was able to get an e-interview going with Steph - have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you tell me a bit about yourself, Steph? Are you from Adelaide? If not, where is home? Steph: Yes, I'm a local! I grew up in the Southern suburbs. Creative writing was actually my thing when I was younger – I thought I was going to be a writer when I grew up. I didn't get into photography until high school, but I've had my head in the clouds from day one. I'm also keen on opshopping, hanging with my dog, stargazing and encouraging the decline of single-use plastic.
Tema: How did you get involved with the visual arts scene? Steph: I applied for a Bachelor of Visual Arts at UniSA straight after finishing high school, because I had discovered my eye for photography. I really found my drive as an artist during my undergraduate studies! I went from taking quite ordinary natural light photographs to creating very dark and unsettling work. I stuck around to do a Master of Visual Art and kept developing my practice. I had my first solo exhibition at FELTspace in my final year and I think that's where a lot of my connections in the visual art scene stem from.
Tema: What inspires you to create the art that you do? Steph: Generally speaking, my work is driven by a desire to see the otherworldly in the everyday. At art school, I discovered how the cold blue light of a flash/speedlight changed the way I would look at things, and I've employed that in my work ever since. Most of what I create uses common objects/the familiar in representations of something else/the unfamiliar. I like the confusion between what was photographed and what is referred to – especially when there's a huge difference in scale and/or perceived importance between the two.
Tema: It sounds like your exhibition is unique in all aspects – what can you share with us about the nature of your work? Steph: Creating Deep Space is my way of participating in the space race. I can't actually travel beyond our atmosphere and see things with the certainty of my own eyes. So I substitute a different kind of certainty – that of the everyday. I recreate views from the ISS or NASA using mundane objects – the laundry sink, a spider, a cup of coffee. I really enjoy confusing my audience. I love that someone might see the very vast and magnificent in the most tiny and insignificant of things. This is also my first foray into the moving image. I have worked on this concept with still images but some ideas weren't going to be done justice as stills. The work still looks every bit like my photographs – very dark constructed scenes with cold light, water, and insects.
Tema: Are you collaborating with any other artists (local / national / international) or is this going to be a solo exhibition? Steph: My work to date has always been created independently, but I am open to future collaborations if the work warrants it. Deep space is a solo show, however there are two amazing artists with shows opening at FELTspace at the same time. Derek Sargent (SA) presents Genuine & Authentic in the front gallery and Jordana Bragg (NZ) presents And Again on the FELTdark screen.
Tema: What do you hope your audience to feel and experience through the exhibition? Steph: My hope is that the audience will take their time to unpack the work. Ideally there will be moments of confusion, as it is not always clear what is being shown. Part of what inspired me to start making work about space is that little jolt of surprise I get when I see a shooting star; as if I'd forgotten what those glittery overhead specks are and needed reminding. I hope that the skewing of scale in this work can illicit a similar little jolt – when you realise you're not looking at a vast night sky but in fact the dust on the surface of water in my very full laundry sink. It's also a nice thought that perhaps in the days following, someone might have a moment in their everyday life where they observe a small movement or trick of the light and be taken with how it resembles something else.
Tema: What inspired you to get involved with the Adelaide Fringe? Steph: The Adelaide Fringe is for everyone, and I really wanted to reach people who don't necessarily consider themselves big fans of art, but are open to new experiences.
Tema: Have you been involved with other Fringe festivals around Australia or overseas? Have you taken your art anywhere else? Steph: I haven't taken my art outside of SA yet (aside from this one time they had artworks on rotation on a screen in the Saatchi Gallery).
Tema: Is there anything else that you'd like our readers / your audience to know about you and the exhibition? Steph: I'd better mention that the work is on loop so visitors are welcome to float in and out of the gallery as they please during open hours. No bookings or tickets involved. The last thing I'll add is how grateful I am to be able to exhibit a daring new work like this. Local artist run spaces like FELTspace support artists in all sorts of endeavours, and it's worth jumping on a few mailing lists to keep an eye on what's coming up.