Rob Harle In Discussion With Selwyn Rodda

Selwyn Rodda
Selwyn Rodda is an Australia based painter, draftsman and digital artist (stills and abstract animation). He has been exhibiting for over two decades and works in a vaguely symbolist and metaphysical vein, with enigmatic 'biomorphic' lifeforms in unpopulated landscapes and human and animal interaction, interrelatedness and hybridization being recurrent themes. His work is found in major private and corporate collections in Australia and will be showcased in the upcoming issue of FULCRUM, an international poetry and aesthetics annual published in Boston, U.S.A. Also please see Rodda’s artist statement in the last (November) edition of Setu Magazine.
RH: Thanks for talking with us Selwyn. Could we start by you telling us a little about your childhood, schooling, interests and further education and training.

SR: First of all, thank you Rob for a asking so many interesting questions! I was born in Warrandyte, Australia, a green, hilly suburb forty odd minutes drive from Melbourne. My mother was the G.P of the town and environs while my father was a piano teacher who wanted to 'see the world'. So at two years of age I went to England with my whole family and stayed there till I was 7. I think this had a positive, mind-expanding effect on me, although my relationship with my father wasn't otherwise close. To this day I do not regard myself as belonging to any country. Into this world we are thrown, and to claim ownership or to feel a strong national allegiance has always struck me as intellectually and perhaps even morally untenable. One 'belongs' to nothing smaller than the universe itself. Having said that, I am a fairly private person and the thought of unbridled, close-knit communal living fills me with dread. I would call myself a "gregarious hermit" and I'm happy being oxymoronic, needing a smallish dose of society and a good helping of solitude. I think art and the mind are full of contradictions and tensions, happily dissolved while making and appreciating art, being happy and being asleep. In fact, luckily we spend half our life asleep, or we'd get no rest!

RH: I’m always interested to know why a person becomes an artist, plumber, scientist and so on. In certain cases it is obvious, maybe the family were involved in the pursuit, but in other cases it seems a mystery. Can you specifically relate why you were drawn to art (pun intended)?

SR: I attended high school in McLeod, near Melbourne, and two things happened close together that made me suddenly want to be an artist, with all the force of a religious awakening. The first was realization that not only was my maternal grandmother a highly accomplished painter, but my maternal grandfather, Vladimir Kostetsky, had been an important Ukrainian artist with an interesting history, including being blacklisted by Stalin for not projecting an 'optimistic' view of the revolution. And not surprising, given his abiding influence was Rembrandt and his most famous painting 'The Return' was inspired by the Dutchman's profoundly compassionate masterpiece 'Return of the Prodigal son' in the Hermitage. The second event was my good fortune when my regular art teacher in high school was sick and the vice principal, a Mr. Campbell, took her class. After showing us some impressionist paintings on slides, he asked if anyone could venture a definition of that art movement. I put my hand up and gave a loose definition that was perhaps better suited to Expressionism. He kindly and patiently corrected me and in so doing opened a gulf in me, a resounding awareness of my own ignorance, felt keenly as an almost existential lack. Immediately after the lunch bell rang I made my way to the library and borrowed several books on art. In about two weeks I had absorbed the history of Western art. Of course there was a background to that, a fertile, fallow ground, I had been interested in art and used to draw, read and write, and there were artists in the family. I was also drawn to writers like Roald Dahl and Edger Allen Poe and Homer in an abridged edition was an early enthusiasm and for some reason that I have never been able to fathom, I was deeply drawn to the work of Rembrandt, van Gogh and Munch.

RH:  Which visual artists have inspired you, or at least influenced you the most, I know there are many, so perhaps say the top five?

SR:  Rembrandt, Rembrandt, Rembrandt, Rembrandt and did I mention Rembrandt? But you're right, there are so many in my personal pantheon, however Rembrandt remains for me emblematic of an art that is profound, mysterious, multi-dimensional, humane, visually sumptuous and capable of evoking both the immense frailty, the pathos of being and the strength of human character and will. For me, as for so many, he is the Shakespeare of visual art. If I had to whittle it down to five artists, a difficult truncation indeed, I might add Goya, Velasquez, Titian and Durer. Although Caravaggio is also hard to go past for sheer impact and humanity. And Leonardo for that sweet yet strange enigmatic quality that no one else has matched. And Bosch, Redon, de Chirico, Alberto Savinio and Mario Sironi. And I have a special love of that remarkable and deeply compassionate visionary Paula Modersohn-Becker. All the big guns, but why deny yourself the best the world has to offer? There, an impossible task to keep it down to five! Local artists that were important as examples and in providing encouragement were Tony Clark and Gareth Sansom. And Jedd Garet, an extraordinary American visionary, was a big influence on me in the 80s.

RH: When I first saw your artwork I had, rather than a “wow” moment more a “gasp” moment. I explain this as a powerful emotional response to an equally emotionally powerful image. I knew from the first sighting I was experiencing the “real deal” artwork, not a “flavour-of-the-month” pretentious pot-boiler type of art. I read recently you stated: [I have] “... a desire to transmit to an audience something of authentic emotional and expressive import without conceptual closure.” I think this a perfect description of your work. Could you please expand a little on this major thrust of your work?

SR: Thanks Rob, that's a wonderful thing to say and I'm thrilled that you had such an immediate, almost visceral response to the work. In terms of the quote, what I mean is that for me works of art are like people, in that no reductive lens we can apply can sum up their totality. To be human is to evade easy, perhaps all, definitions, to not be subject to semantic prisons or political categories or, indeed, the ones so favoured by proponents of identity politics. 'We murder to dissect' and all that. Art is to be lived, experienced, not pressed into intellectual or ideological service. When someone says of a work of art "what does it mean?" what they are really saying is "I have failed to savour this fruit of the imagination" and "I have not been receptive and I'd like a neat little summary of it to spare me the effort".

Propaganda and one-liners are exhausted almost immediately, you 'get them' then move on, like visual chewing gum or a joke. Artists, on the other hand, don't quite know what they're doing. So in order to find out what it is they do, they have to keep doing it in an act of on-going self-discovery and self- extension. If they knew what they were all about from the get-go they could simply dash it off and be done with and go and do something more useful to society! Of course, art is 'useful' precisely because it reminds us that not everything is reducible to a value, a price or cost, despite the corrosive effect of the art market, which has nothing at all to do with art. This is why art 'performs' some of the functions of traditional religion, the sacred, and so forth, and we demystify art at our own peril. The world is too much with us and yet as far as the moon! As Pasolini said: "I am not interested in deconsecrating: this is a fashion I hate, it is petit-bourgeois. I want to reconsecrate things as much as possible, I want to re-mythicize them".

RH: You are very well acquainted with art history and the associated artists. Has this come from formal training and/or intense personal reading and gallery visits? 

SR: Referring back to my 'conversion', once I had apprehended the immensity of the world of art beyond my own navel, the veritable feast of art that awaited (lucky) me, I dived in like a cormorant. I felt that I had found a portal to multiverses beyond reckoning, like Lucy in the Lion, the witch and the wardrobe (as a small child, how I wanted to be Lucy!). And it was only a matter of weeks before I knew the outline of art history and all the major figures and many lesser or minor but worthy artists as well. And it's been a joy to immerse myself in the world of art ever since, and not just Western art. And tangential to this, though in my mind intimately related, were literature, philosophy and biology and I read extensively, hungrily and gratefully in all those fields. One day it would be Poe and Shelley, the next Nietzsche and Camus, then Darwin or H.G. Wells. I have also spent a lot of time looking at art, both in Australia and overseas. As Sherlock Holmes once said to a policeman: "Breadth of view is one of the essentials of our profession. The interplay of ideas and the oblique uses of knowledge are often of extraordinary interest".
And Louis Pasteur once said, "Chance favours only the prepared mind", so as far as I'm concerned, plying the mind with fodder not only stimulates it, but supplies raw materials for the imagination to fashion images and ideas in its mysterious way.

RH: I often feel like an alien on this planet (and especially in Australia)  when  I mention certain artists and art forms peoples’ eyes glaze over and they divert the conversation. But with our exchanges over the past year or so we are so in tune with the more esoteric, underground or lesser known art concerns. I’m continually astonished, for example, how and when you came across the Quay Bros. work, and Jiri Barta’s or Karlheinz Stockhausen’s music etc. etc.

SR: It has been delightful for me to meet a fellow explorer of the remote, recondite and esoteric reaches of artistic endeavour in you as well, Rob. Yes, it's quite a thing feeling amazed by the work of certain artists who you think are essential and then finding that many people react to them as if you were holding a cockroach under their nose, lol. And while I am averse to art that feels contrived in the direction of inaccessibility or difficulty, I'm deeply attracted to art that leads me to somewhere strange and unfamiliar. I find a useful way of thinking about art is to imagine a laden, multi-variety grafted fruit tree (quite a mouthful!). The low-lying fruit is easy to access, very little effort is needed (pop music, Hollywood films). But as you look higher there are strange, tempting fruit that require you to reach for it and so on up to the canopy, where the fruit is well-nigh inaccessible without the aid of props and great personal exertion (Donne, Mallarmé, Joyce, Celan, Stockhausen, Boulez, Dickinson, etc). I think the 'best' art of all is that which is closest to life itself: both accessible and yet capable of yielding richer and more nourishing nutrients as you delve deeper. Not exactly "something for anyone", for all art requires at least time and attention, but an art that isn't too opaque or forbidding at first approach. An art that greets you with foothills rather than a sheer cliff face, although those 'foothills' may lead you to Hell and beyond, as with Dante. Even Joyce's Ulysses, for all its touted difficulty and abstruse allusiveness, is an immediate treat to the ears, as anyone can attest who has heard it recited by a good actor. The pleasure of the language is the invitation and inducement to dig deeper. Finnegan's Wake, however, proved too forbidding for this reader and it's a torrent of verbal inventiveness I can only dip my toes in for fear of drowning.

As far as the kinds of artists and art you mention, it's peculiar to me how it's possible to remain incurious about art that isn't 'user friendly'. The common, pat, even smug quip "I know what I like" strikes me as a kind of mental provincialism, a docile acceptance of the well-trodden and the lazily accessible, that frankly makes my skin crawl. Being radically and cosmically estranged and atomized by our primate brains and our intelligence and mechanical aptitude, it feels like good medicine to me to engage with art that is confronting, destabilizing, dissonant or/and challenging formally. Such art can be a wonderful way to enlarge ourselves, to remind ourselves that there is more to life than biological functions and having our way.

RH: Further can you explain what attracts you to these artists rather than say Margaret Olley or Clifton Pugh?

SR:  I'm not a great fan of either of the artists you mention, though there are far worse! I suppose for me art is something that, at its best, transports me to a new, strange place that has the ancillary effect of making me see the world through fresh eyes. There is a provincial strain in Australian art, similar to Regionalism in American art, that I find cloying and small, imaginatively constrictive. I love it when Kafka says "a book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us!" You get some of that in Sydney Nolan's best work, Peter Booth reaches for it. The kind of slightly fussy, narrow domestic focus of a Margaret Olley or the faux and rather vulgar  Expressionism of Pugh isn't really what I hanker for in art. Most of the time I want to be surprised, astonished, deeply moved, thrilled and ecstatic, not reminded of what I already know and experience on a daily basis. In art, I do not look for reinforcement of what I already feel, think and know. As Diaghilev replied to Picasso when he asked what he wanted for the set of Parade: "surprise me!"

RH: Many of your works contain powerful psychological images -  I can image Freudians looking at your work and constructing all sorts of stories about demons and repressions. Do you think your work draws on such Freudian constructs per se or as you have said re recent work, “ in response to my feelings of empathy with the frequently horrific experience of being a refugee in a world largely hostile or indifferent to their plight and by implication all humanity’s often fragile sense of belonging”. Obviously these two sources of inspiration are very, very different?

SR: I work without plan, or at most a pretty vague, sketchy idea, but even that might evaporate when I pick up a brush. That's not to say I'm in a trance when I work. I know that when I'm drawing an owl it's not an otter. But why an owl and not an otter is something I don't stop to consider. I simply begin and the next object or character comes without any awareness of its baggage or relationship with what came before. I often start feeling out a form and something about it indicates what it wants to be, rock, woman, man, owl, otter or indeed a biomorphic lump suggestive of all or none of the above. So I'm not surprised that there is unconscious material emerging that an analyst could sink their teeth into (now that's castration anxiety, haha). In fact, a friend of my family, a Jungian analyst, said she'd be interested in speaking with me about my imagery. In the case of the works specifically about refugees, these were more programmatic, at least initially. But as I progressed the old habits emerged and I started working much more spontaneously. I think I would have found it very difficult being a Renaissance artist and having my iconography predetermined. I'm sure I would have tried to subvert it in sneaky ways! For me, the primacy of the unfettered imagination is, well, primary.

RH: Your “dispossessed” series as seen on your website consists of haunting emotionally disturbing images. One would be forgiven for thinking these individuals  could be detained in Auschwitz or a Stalin Gulag. But I think I’m correct in understanding they are concerned with Australia’s attitude, both by politicians and many individuals to the current (and long drawn out) treatment of refugees, is this correct?

SR: Yes, those images are nominally a response to the horrific treatment of refugees by the Australian government, an international disgrace and crimes against humanity. However, you also rightly point out their more than passing resemblance to other historical atrocities, and this is because I am a child of Goya and Kafka, who in their most purely imaginative works kept headline topicality, and historical references, to a minimum. With few exceptions, the more timelessly metaphorical their work, the more powerful it became. This was a challenge for me, to make art that was more topical and political without on the one hand seeming to cynically exploit or 'normalize' other's suffering and on the other to honour the capricious, daemonic freedom of the imagination, its thralldom to invention and the pursuit of intensity. It felt like a tightrope act and I think I'll only be able to get a sense of their relative failure or success after the events that were their cause are no longer headlines. But judging by where the world is heading, that may be a long way off, if ever, alas.

RH: I no longer believe art/literature can stop wars and make major immediate changes in human affairs. Guernica (Picasso); Imagine (Lennon); Alchemy (Whitely) all had this specific intention, were known and loved by millions but did not stop wars, nor obviously change human attitudes to injustices and maltreatment of others? Do you think I’m correct or do you still believe art/literature (Tolstoy/Dickens) can bring about positive change, either immediate or in the longer term?

SR: A great question, Rob! My take on that is to invert the question: so, not "can art save the world?" but rather "what makes the world worth saving?" And I've no hesitation in saying "art is one of the things that makes the world worth saving". Propaganda is a far more effective means of effecting people's behaviour, both overt and covert, for good and bad. Art is the realm of 'aesthetic arrest'. It is not 'pornographic', it wants nothing from you except to respond as you list, and the necessary willing suspension of disbelief precludes fanaticism. It is an immersion, not a submission (It's make believe, after all, a cardboard moon. But what cardboard and what a moon!). That can have the salutary effect of cleansing the palette, of defogging the spectacles, but when you consider that the Nazis listened to Mozart in concentration camps, I think it is too much to expect of poor, wonderful, blameless art that it might have a 'civilizing' effect on those who profess to love it. But as far as I know, no human being ever killed someone while painting, writing a poem or being immersed in the beauty of either. Surely that counts for something!

RH: A few short, lighter questions:
Your favourite writers? 
This list could go forever, and with a few exceptions is a rotating feast, but... Indian mythology, Pu Songling, Ovid, Kafka, Hoffmann, Carroll, Shakespeare, Andrew Marvell, Blake, Emily Bronte, Beckett, John Cowper Powys, Yeats, Rilke, Trakl, Chekov, Bulgakov, Platonov, Issac Babel, David Lindsay (Voyage to Arcturus remains my favourite 'trip' in world literature), Dino Buzzatti, Antonio Tabucchi, George MacDonald, Peake, John Crowley, Le Guin, Thomas M. Disch, Lem, Emily Dickinson, Louise Bogan, Borges, Bruno Schulz, Amos Tutuola, Kobo Abe, the astonishing Can Xue, Walker Percy, Anne Carson, to name only a few. A special mention of Penelope Fitzgerald's 'The Blue Flower', which I fall in love with every time I read it.

Your favourite style of food?
Anything simple and nutritious. Being a vegetarian with serious vegan leanings has not only reduced choices available to me, a good thing, but made me enjoy food in a much deeper way than my former guilt at eating animals always caused me to feel.

Your favourite style of music?
Baroque and Renaissance music, specially Monteverdi. But I range over every period and try and find things that 'speak' to me, that move me, right up to recent composers, bands and ensembles in all genres.

The overall culture of which country appeals to you the most?
SR: I love ancient China, with its scholarly, nature-loving ethos. Of course, the reality for most people was different from my romantic image, but I do love my necessarily partial and poetic version of ancient China. To sit before unscrolled paper, with brush in hand, contemplating mist-shrouded mountains with a pot of leafy green tea making its own miniaturized vapours on a low fire. And no inkling of climate change or the horrific loss of species we are now seeing and experiencing. Bliss and oneness. Of course wandering around in Renaissance Florence or Venice would be extraordinary, if anyone happens to have a time machine handy (and a taser for personal protection!).

RH: I have often stated generally speaking Australia is a cultural/intellectual backwater (with a few notable exceptions of course). Do you agree with this? Do you feel your work might receive more favourable reception, critique and more sales in another country such as Europe or America?

SR: I have felt that too. The reality is, art and culture in general are held in higher esteem in many other countries than they are in Australia. But the good side of that is that it makes finding like-minded people a little easier via social media and being involved in the scene. These things have their downside, of course. But the net (pun intended) gain for me has been very positive. I am currently without gallery representation in Australia and I have shifted my focus to America, NYC and Boston in particular, in the hope that, yes, I will find a receptive audience abroad. I am represented by ROOM artspace in NYC, which is run by Lorene Taurerewa and Warwick McLeod, both great artists and well worth checking out!

RH: What do you love most about Australia?

SR: I love the fauna and flora and the beauty of much of its terrain. What's not to love about them?! And aboriginal culture and art are wonders of the world deserving of the utmost respect and support. And meeting people such as yourself who are committed to an ethical and creative way of being alive on this planet. Also, my children are here, so that makes Australia the place to be for me!

RH: What do you loathe most about Australia?

SR: I have to say that a real peeve would be the social energy Australian's seem to be able to 'piss away', to use a ripe Ozzie locution, on fribbling pursuits like sport and skin cancer gatherings better known as BBQs. But seriously, it's Australia's climate laggardness, it's treatment of refugees and its shocking institutional racism towards indigenous people that are most aggravating of all. We seem to have bigoted coal and fracking loving rednecks running the country.

RH:  You rarely post photos of your digital artworks on social media such as Facebook, any reason for this? Can you explain any different ways of working between digital computer and direct immediate charcoal drawing? I don’t mean the obvious physical differences, more the immediacy versus the ability to erase untraced on the screen, and the difficulty of getting ‘power and energy’ into the work using a computer?

SR: The short answer is that I don't do anywhere near the amount of digital work as 'analogue' or manual. To address the obvious physical differences anyway, which are germane to my answer, I think there's something about the non-destructive aspect of digital art production that feels convenient as all hell but somehow less authentic, that reduces the existential knife-edge, tightrope act of creation, its done-in-the-moment edge. It's largely the 'destructive', ineradicable nature of drawing and painting that makes it more poignant, more beautiful, to my eyes. Also, it has texture and that feeling of gestural and 'real world' proximity to the creative process, to the dreaming mind and hand at work. The way that drawing and painting register every nuance of decision making in a raw, fresh way. Digital art seems more removed and therefore often less moving. But I do like many aspects of digital art making, it's dazzling realism, its chromatic and tonal vibrancy, and certainly I don't denigrate it. But for me a drawing done on an iPad, for instance,  will never have the beauty, nuance and subtlety of the real article. Also, it's service in the film industry as part of the hyperrealist  cgi dream machine means that as an art form it is generally geared to be invisible, to erase all trace of itself. It has become the ultimate trompe l'oeil. Of course in painting, it is the beauty of the paint itself that conveys much of the pleasure of the experience, not just its mimetic prowess, however astonishing that may be.

RH:  In the past, say Renaissance to late modernity, drawing was considered a poor cousin art form to final oil painting, I’m not sure this is true anymore? Some of your finished charcoal drawings are huge (2 metres across) to me these are bona fide finished artworks in their own right. Do you agree with my take and would care to comment on the difference if any you see between drawings (not sketches) and paintings in this regard?

SR: That is true to some extent, although I have to say that the old man of art himself, Vasari, regard drawing, or disegno, as the father (mother?) of the other visual arts. So its status as art's progenitor, its originary power, has also been a thread in Western art history. And highly finished presentation drawings by Michelangelo and others were highly prized. But you are right, drawings have never had the public exposure, role or potential for persuasive power that painting, sculpture and architecture have, to say nothing of the mechanical and digital forms. Various artists have occasionally attempted to elevate drawing to such a status, but there is something intrinsically personal, intimate and direct about drawings that is probably best savoured in a quiet or even domestic setting far from the madding crowd. As the expression has it: "come up and see my etchings", which are after all acid-bitten drawings on a copper plate ;-) However, I am not really interested in banging a drum for drawing as such. I started drawing more regularly for two reasons. The first being that it is ever so much cheaper than painting and the second was due to my dear friend, the great poet and polyglot Philip Nikolayev, asking me to provide drawings for his poetry and aesthetics annual FULCRUM, which is published in Boston. He stipulated that they were to be black and white, so I naturally turned to drawing and the combination of affordability and producing for somebody I respect really put wind in my sails! To put it into perspective, a two meter painting would cost me something in the order of four hundred dollars for the stretcher and canvas alone! A two meter drawing on good cartridge would be about 15 dollars.

I do see the large drawings as finished artworks, absolutely! We live in an age where anything can be used in a work of art (I'm not sure that's a recipe for anything but  a free-for-all disaster. I mean, we already live in a world where a reality TV buffoon can be POTUS, if you know what I mean...). So if candy, dead animals or frozen human blood, etc ad nauseam, can be the materials from which works of art are fashioned, then drawings are a shoo-in. For me what's important is the appropriateness of the materials to the expressive intention, so there's a supportive relation, or useful tension, between form and function. In my large drawings, the relative fragility of paper and the black and white of charcoal was in tune with the theme of human suffering and frailty. The nightmarish aspects of the drawings are also, I hope, enhanced by the monochromatic treatment.

RH: It has been stated by Steve Cox that your paintings show, “ a weird hypnogogic world, at once familiar, yet intensely alien.” Then further on they, “...belong to a bizarre nether world.” A nether world is generally concerned with a kind of hell archetype, or the realm of Hades.  Do you think your work is tapping directly into such a world which we cannot directly access with our limited normal senses?

SR: I acknowledge that some of my work is dark, even frightening, but I also would like there to be a countervailing light. This is not a matter of calculation, but of feeling my way into a work. I know I could be far more brutal and disturbing in my imagery, and sometimes I wonder if that's not the most 'reasonable' response to the horrors of the world, but it wouldn't feel right. Even in despair, there ought to be a door pointing the way forward, a ray of light at the least. Even if that might be a 'lie' in the Nietzschean sense. Steve Cox's assertion is right in one sense, all my imagery arises as I work. So the 'nether world' is my own unconscious and subconscious. But I don't regard my work as a purgation of my 'shadow', my id. It is not therapy, except in the sense that when one is making art, there is a sense of individuated purpose. I fully believe in my world, suspend my disbelief, even as I disbelieve in it. It's a paradox proper to all genuine art making and appreciation, imaginative immersion and delight (and frustration) in the means of its conveyance. Surely that's one of the key elements that distinguish art from daydreaming and rank fantasy or escapism.

RH: Following on from the previous question I notice considerable Pagan and Shamanistic motifs in your work, especially the animals (sometimes very menacing) have you a more than passing interest in these traditions at all? Further are there any spiritual or philosophical traditions which you care to mention as having influenced your life and or work?

SR: I'm interested in the unconscious as well as the fantastic. Mythology, alchemy, Shamanism, Pagan imagery, motifs and ideas are all things I've been interested in. I have never pursued them in a scholarly sense but have rather dipped in here and there, hungry for whatever good spiritual and imaginative nourishment or imagistic titbits are to be had. My reading in these fields has been as much commentary and analysis as primary texts. I have found the writings of Gaston Bachelard, Joseph Campbell, Mircea Eliade, Robert Graves, Jung, Freud, James Hillman, Susanne Langer, Karl Kerenyi, Marie-Louise von Franz, Henri Corbin and Northrop Frye, among many others, useful, stimulating, inspiring and moving. But I have no affiliation to any organised religion, creed or anything susceptible to dogmatism, spiritual or material. I guess I'm Blakean in my allegiance and service to the power of the imagination (the Daemon).

I am aware of Vedantic principles, having lived at the Chinmaya mission in  Sidhbari for a while back in the early nineties, and more directly with the practice of meditation. This has certainly been helpful in staying sane and being able to remind myself that I'm a part of something larger than my personal anxieties and shortcomings.

RH: Any immediate plans for exhibitions or major gallery visits?

SR: I will have a show with ROOM artspace in New York in 2017. I hope to go over and run around thrilling to all the cultural wonders there. I also know some wonderful people over there and I'm looking forward to catching up with them.

RH: Thanks for your valuable time Selwyn, I know you are a prolific artist and don’t want to keep you away from your canvases for too long :-) 

Thanks Rob! It's been a great pleasure :-)

Rob Harle
Rob Harle is a writer, editor, artist and reviewer - born in Sydney Australia, August 1948. Writing work includes poetry, short fiction stories, academic essays, and reviews of scholarly books, journals and papers. His work is published in journals, anthologies, online reviews, books and he has three volumes of his own poetry published – Scratches & Deeper Wounds (1996) and Mechanisms of Desire (2012). Winds Of Infinity (2016) Recent poetry has been published in numerous anthologies and literary journals: Just a few examples -Rupkatha Journal (Kolkata); Beyond The Rainbow (Nimbin); Poetic Connections  Anthology;  Indo-Australian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry; Rhyme With Reason Anthology; Asian Signature; Muse India; Voices Across The Ocean Anthology; Episteme Journal; Indo-Australian Anthology of Short Fiction. LIRJELL Journal; Homeward Bound Anthology; Voices Across Generations Anthology; World Poetry Yearbook; Temptations; Taj Mahal Review; Setu Magazine; Searching For The Sublime, Anthology.
His past art practice was sculpture, then digital-computer art both for the web and print. His giclée images have been exhibited widely and featured both in, and as the covers, of various literary journals and anthologies.
Formal studies include Comparative Religion, Philosophy, Literature and Psychotherapy - his thesis concerned Freud's notion of the subconscious and its relationship with Surrealist poetry.
Rob's main concern has been to explore and document the radical changes technology is bringing about. He coined the term technoMetamorphosis to describe this. This past concern is now moving towards helping to restore our abandoned metaphysical and spiritual modes of being through literature, especially poetry.
 He is currently a member of: Leonardo Book Review Panel. Manuscript reviewer for Leonardo Journal (UK & USA). Advising Editor for the Journal of Trans-technology Research, (UK); Member of Editorial Board for:  Phenomenal Literature, (India); International Journal on Multicultural Literature (India); LIRJELL, (Lingayas University, India); Ars Artium (India); Iris (India); Daath Voyage (India). Setu Magazine (USA). Poetcrit (India). Ad Litteram (India).
Full Publications, Reviews and selected writings are available from:  Artwork from:


  1. Dear Rob,

    Your interview with Selwyn is a fascinating perspective on the artistic experience. I do believe that creative writing and encouraging others to share their talent has been a positive voice leading to good things in the corner of my world.

    I agree with Selwyn that ""art is one of the things that makes the world worth saving." I would like to add that this applies to endeavors that lift up the human spirit rather than some artists' shock value and attempts to tear down others.

    Being a global forum, we have a chance to make a difference. Thank you for sharing this wonderful column for people to think about.


  2. Thanks Karen, yes I liked this interview very much, Selwyn is the "real deal". Cheers, Rob


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