KM: You are holding a three day workshop, Drawing Beyond the Boundaries, 18 – 20 January 2011, at Corban Estate Art Centre in Henderson. How would you describe your approach to drawing in this class?
JM: It’s a broad and explorative approach, covering a wide range of media, techniques and perspectives on the notion of drawing.
KM: Paint is used in this class and you have taught both painting and drawing for 15 years. Are drawing and painting as categories in art potentially confusing?
JM: Categories of drawing and painting may have a large area of overlap. Rather than being confusing it just means that the categories shouldn’t be seen as being too separate. If I make a preparatory study in painted line then it can be a drawing and a painting.
KM: What do you love about teaching art?
JM: It is really satisfying to see students make progress in their work. It is powerful to help instill and support the self belief that students need to make keep making art.
KM: Is it hard to find the time for your own art?
JM: Yes. Sometimes. It can be frustrating to have the ideas and motivation but have other commitments keeping me from getting in to the studio… It’s a matter of grabbing the windows of opportunity when they come along and hope the opportunities coincide with some inspiration.
KM: I have asked painter Viki Garden if she considers painting to be “... a difficult pleasure”. Is a certain amount of struggle simply part of the creative process?
JM: Yes. I would describe it as a difficult pleasure. I generally run into problems in a painting sooner or later even with things quite well planned before hand. Problem solving is a big part of the art making process. A lot of people want to believe that it’s all feverish emotional outpouring and soul bearing split by a lightning bolt of inspiration.
KM: Some of your own work is montage-like. Objects are placed together within the frame creating intriguing combinations. Could you describe them as ‘picture-poems’?
JM: Yes in the sense that the combinations of elements in my work do not necessarily have literal narrative connections. They resonate in more oblique ways so yes it’s more like poetry than prose I guess.
KM: What are some of the things around you that inspire your own work?
JM: I’m interested in certain elements of popular culture at the moment. Computer games, still-frames from T.V. dramas, urban street art, street signage, shopping mall interiors.
KM: Do you keep a work book/diary with ideas on you?
JM: Yes. I have always kept a visual diary and encourage my students to do the same. It’s good to have your thoughts, doodles and pictures collated in one place.
KM: You’re also a musician. Does this have any influence on your visual art?
JM: Music and art work separately for me. When I am not teaching I am either doing a music project or painting project but generally not both. I feel I absolutely need to be doing both music and visual art and they complement each other rather than one being a direct influence on the other.
KM: Who are some of the artists, historical or contemporary, who inspire you?
JM: James Ensor, Francis Picabia, Anette Messager, Alex Katz, Neo Rauch, David Salle, Martin Kippenberger, Sigmar Polke, Bill Hammond, Andrew McLeod, John Pule, Joanna Margeret Paul, Julie Mehretu, Beatrize Milhazes.