October is a good month for spooks. The best, some might say. So, with Halloween firmly on the horizon, street artist and lover of all things ghostly, Barek, is bringing a show of phantasmagorical delights to Off the Kerb.
Called House of Ghosts, Barek’s latest show contains a collection of new paintings, drawings, and sculptures inspired by the artist’s love of the paranormal, ghost hunting, spellcraft, old ghost films, and fascination with the afterlife.
But, before you lay eyes on his spectral wonders at Off the Kerb, let’s get to know Barek:
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
My background is in street art—hand-drawn stickers and wheat pasting.
I have always painted, but they sat in folders—nobody saw them. Then I discovered wheat pasting—a way that I could share my art with every and anybody. You don’t have to be a gallery to see them—they might be on the back of toilet door or hidden in a laneway.
The reality is, most people don’t go to art galleries but still love art. Street art makes it accessible to everyone.
What made you realise you wanted to become an artist?
I had put up some stickers one day, then I saw them on a photo sharing website and, much to my surprise, people really liked them. So I made more, dreamed up a moniker, and ten years later, here I am. It wasn’t a planned as anything more than a way of sharing my artwork.
How would you describe your art?
Quiet, thoughtful, quirky and honest.
Tell us about ‘House of Ghosts’.
I love old ghost films, bad ghost-hunting reality TV shows, and anything to do with cryptids, the supernatural or paranormal.
Ghosts and spirits feature strongly in my work, so I wanted to elaborate on that and let people see what I think the afterlife and beyond would look like, and what ghosts might be doing when not spooking people.
I imagine they get together and talk about new haunts, welcome new spirits to the afterlife, and drink small mugs of whiskey.
Do you have a favourite piece from the collection?
They’re like my children, so I can’t have a favourite. Each was given the same love and encouragement to come forth from brush to canvas.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I find the most inspiration from everyday things. Would that squashed snail have a ghost? Where would it haunt? Who would its friends be?
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Just do what you do, don’t follow the current art trends, and if your art looks like nobody else’s; that’s a good thing.
What are you working on now, and what’s up next?
I’ve really enjoyed residencies this year, so I’m submitting for others.
I spent time at the Australian Regenerative Medical Institute making art, feeding their sharks, collecting Zebra Fish eggs, as well as heaps of other cool activities the scientists invited me to do. It challenged my beliefs and also let non-sciencey people peek into what goes on there. I begin another residency soon in a small remote town in Tasmania with QBank.
Favourite childhood read, or the last book you read:
‘Where The Forest Meets The Sea’ by Jeannie Baker was a childhood favourite—the collage illustrations fascinated me.
Favourite place, city, or spot:
Mornington Peninsula. It feels so wild and remote while still being close to Melbourne.
One thing you think everyone should know, do, or experience:
Zombie Walk! I’ve won Best Costume in the past, and the feeling of everyone wanting a pic of or with you is the closest to celebrity most will ever have.
I went on stage and heard thousands of people cheering for me, and that was totally unforgettable. It also lets you spend time as “not-you”.
A must watch (TV/film/video), read (book/essay/website), or listen (podcast/album/song):
TV—Face Off, a special-effects make up series, and Most Haunted, a UK ghost hunting series. And music-wise—anything pre-1960; when music was pure and honest.
Barek’s upcoming solo show House of Ghosts opens at Off the Kerb Gallery on Friday, October 20, from 6 ‘till 9 pm. The show will run from October 19 through November 2.
Off the Kerb is located at 66B Johnston Street, Collingwood. The gallery is open from 12:30 pm to 6 pm Thursday — Friday and 12 pm to 5 pm on Saturday & Sunday. You can find more information about the gallery at their website.