This week we interviewed our friend, fellow studio resident and creative inspiration, The Zookeeper (AKA Joel Fergie). The Zookeeper is a Brisbane based street and fine artist who’s large scale murals look to break the monotonous routines of daily life. Fascinated with nature from a young age, his creative inspiration is drawn from parallels between animals and humans. Zookeepers work looks to create a vessel through nature, to bring positivity and optimism to everyday life. Through metaphor, Zookeeper aims to shine light on the many things that are overshadowed in our society and his heartfelt, emotive and evoking pieces are capturing the attention of creative communities across the nation.
You may recognise Joel from his latest regional silo artworks, his participation in Brisbane’s beloved public art collective, the Brightsiders or his regular features on our instagram.
JOEL, THIS IS THE FIRST SELF PORTRAIT YOU’VE EVER PAINTED, IS THAT RIGHT? Yes, this was the first self portrait I've painted! I've always avoided them because I haven't been a confident portrait painter, but I’ve been working towards changeling myself and am really happy with the outcome!
WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND THE GLASSES? I I feel like in a way the glasses are framing me and all the other people who wear them, making an artwork in itself. Like looking through a window, it’s like looking past the reflection and exploring yourself, and I think there's a lot in that as a concept. The way I see it is like they’re framing our identity and that's a lot of what I was thinking about when I was painting this piece.
I shot photos of my friends in our new studio, Mayne Line wearing them and was really inspired. When I was painting in the wall, I was noticing all of the intersections in it, like the rendering and different sections that were broken or harder to paint and I was thinking about challenging parts of myself, deconstructing myself and putting that kind of reflective energy into it. The frames of the glasses really open that dialogue up for me … and they look fuckin awesome!
WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING A RESIDENT AT MAYNE LINE STUDIO? I absolutely love having a supportive family of artists around me. There's a unique energy in the space and we all push and challenge each other in really exciting ways, which is something I feel has a lot of love and power behind it.
HAVE YOU GOT ANY EXCITING PROJECTS COMING UP?
Myself and DRALP are currently working on a project down in Victoria called Sea Lake, working on 7 large silos. We visited the town in early 2019 and engaged with the community so this will be a celebration. I’m excited to share it!