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Interview with Ceri Hann

#cerihann #creativity #rmit #university #art #playfulness #ideasgeneration #friend #neuroplasticity #brain #creativepractice #experimentation

I had a pleasure of interviewing my friend and a great creative - Ceri Hann - a multidisciplinary arts practitioner interested in art forms stimulating collective idea generation and the idea of delineating boundaries. His approach to practice often avoids categorisation, as the outcomes are intentionally defused in the wonder/wander of everyday life.

In the past, Ceri was pursuing a music related trajectory, however he decided to focus on art practice. Over the past ten years he has been a sessional tutor and guest lecturer in the School of Art and School of Architecture and Design at RMIT and has an ongoing engagement within the Art in Public Space and MFA post-graduate programs. Ceri has presented work at Melbourne Comedy Festival (2017), Liquid Architecture (2015), RMIT Project Space (2014) and run workshops at West Space, Blindside Sound Series and Testing Grounds. A few years ago, he completed PhD research at RMIT, The Making of a Knowledge Casino (2016). In 2007, as a creative collaboration with Lynda Roberts, they established the Public Assembly. They aim to "stimulate conversation and disrupt our expectations of the objects, spaces and systems around us".

Surprisingly, in his creative process his approach is trying to avoid being too focused. He arrives at better outcomes by not opposing a concept of things, but being receptive to possibilities as the change. Even if he has a specific idea and he tries to impose that, the material conditions somehow always find a way to disprove the initial concept. He rather be “unsuccessful”, unrecognised and still be open to possibilities rather than being “the cliche of himself”. For him being successful is to continue questioning the rules in order to continue playing.

I was excited to do an interview face to face and email correspondence. His mind is so full of creative ideas that our conversation was expanding to many topics. However, here I present the most practical and my favourite content. I hope you’ll find it useful for your art practice.

What are some important skills you wish you learnt back then?

I think it is largely social skills actually, I think that sadulty of convinail gestures that enable a building of trust between people.

What advice would you give to your younger self when you were at uni ?

Be actively involved in the creative community of people. Just start somewhere and go anywhere. It’s like rolling hoolahoop, at the beginning it can be wonky, but the more you practice you’ll learn how to keep rolling it with much less energy.

How do you find opportunities and which one do you usually decide to get involved in?

Chances are that opportunity is all over the place, just need to be all over the place to recognise it... we are always involved, just work out how much more involved you need to be.

How do you choose people to collaborate with?

My interest in people emerges from being interested in people... if there is a spark to a conversation it is worth sharing oxygen and time to imagine together, occasionally from a small thing big things can grow.

How did you become involved in the first few shows you had worked in?

Mostly through volunteering, invest spare time helping, without expecting a return, it can pay off in unexpected ways.

What would you advise us to do after leaving the university?

Hopefully you’ll be able to effectively metaprogramming, having the capacity of reprogramming who you are and finding a better version of yourself. You’re not just a received pattern of behaviour - result of your cultural references, but you actually have learnt through your own art practice and continue to develop. Art is like a feedback loop that allows you to listen to your intuitive self, your body’s response to the world. Your ego can’t think in the same way, so listen to what your body is thinking.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned as an artist?

How to re-wire my brain through allowing my body to think through action... Art practice is learning to read your intuition and the only real medium is neuroplasticity.

What have been some of the biggest challenges for you as an artist?

Finding my way by losing my way.

How have you been able to balance paid work with your art practice? Are they separate?

I am fortunate to be involved in paid work that crosses over with the practice of art. I think that working to self fund the art you want to do is far more life affirming than making art that ticks boxes in the hope that it will get funded.

What was your greatest success and greatest failure?

Doing a PhD that intended to test the limits of institutional knowledge production by mocking it, succeeded in not being taken seriously and failed to change the system in a big way... but did transform myself for better or worse.

What artists/ art movements have influenced you?

Dada, Surrealism and Flexus had primary influences on him, also social sculpture and the idea of playfulness.

What mistakes should we avoid? Do you have any hacks to develop faster and achieve more?

Anticipating how you will feel when reminiscing can result in missing the most important time... experience the moment as immediately as possible… Brush your teeth, eat and sleep when you need to and be interested... in everything!

Is there anything more you want to mention/share?

Be a conduit to others and the world will be bountiful to you : )


Ceri Hann, Oct 2016 PhD exam

Public Assembly


There is a simple reason why I decided to interview Ceri Hann - he's one of the most creative people I’ve met in the last few years (or even in my life). What I admire about him are not his accomplishments but the mind (which in my opinion is his greatest artwork). He's driven by curiosity and his playful approach to life. What helps him to make new meaningful connections are conversations, but not about mundane things, but the nature of the universe and a variety of philosophical concepts.

He chose an academic path, which seems to be quite surprising for me, because it stands in a little contrast of action learning. Perhaps this is his way to challenge the social structures, by situating yourself at their foundations. Moreover, thanks to that I was lucky to get to know him.

Ceri keeps learning from others by sharing his knowledge and passion for art. By being himself he stimulates others to question the structures around us. After our interview I felt challenged to distance myself even more from social expectations and dive into the exciting world of play. We can accomplish freedom of thought by separating ourselves from unnecessary fear, social pressure and structures.

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