Richard Goodwin is an internationally exhibiting artist, architect, and Professor of Porosity Studio at College of Fine Arts, UNSW, with work ranging from freeway infrastructure to the gallery to “parasitic” architecture/public artworks. In 1996, Goodwin established the Porosity Studio that enquires into a dynamic understanding of art, architecture and urban design that has been recognised and supported internationally by various universities and institutions. In 2002 and 2009, he has been awarded the prestigious Discovery Grant and Linkage Grant from the Australian Research Council (ARC) to further his research into Porosity. His body of research became widely published and exhibited in galleries across Sydney and begun to influence the way designers, architects, artists and even emergency services view the city fabric.
Richard Goodwin has shared with arts interview the nature of his multiple roles and their importance to his arts career.
Interview by Natalia Ilyukevich
With multiple roles that you have, what is your role as an artist, architect and professor?
My role as an artist is about adding meaning to language and all other forms via systems and devices that are so complex now, especially after the 20th Century. It is sort of a multi-faceted role. I cover a large part of what I call the art spectrum, which includes practice that goes into gallery. It is a hybrid form where I mix my architecture with my art, and make public art that adapts and transforms architecture as the site of public art – hybrid public art architecture. Then I do think about radically transformed architecture itself and urban infrastructure. The vast majority of the work is for the gallery and the academic side simply harnesses that. I run the multidisciplinary Porosity studio to bring together people from different disciplines like myself to test their projects at the scale of the city. Another side that made me an academic was my theories about public space existing inside private space for which I have received research funding from the government.
How do you balance the commercial, artistic, educative and other related aspects of what you do?
I balance my roles by never compromising them for each other. To me they are just facets of the same project. When I was a younger artist, the only way to make work possible was to have a studio somewhere separate. I went to my studio as part of the discipline of learning how to be an artist. Ultimately, as things got more complex I gathered the wagons in the circle and locked them all together. The only way that I am restricted commercially is the limitations that I can spend on materials and etc. I run my businesses and various things but I never think rationally about money, and it is usually when I am least rational about it, I make money. As a professor, I have to do a certain number of hours teaching and really offset against all the other things. I maintain my position at 0.5 – half the normal hours of work load. Where it is beneficial is that the more I talk about my theoretical project the more I learn about it too. The way I balance this aspect is by running studios the way I want to teach, adding into that the tutoring and supervision required from university, and changing my timetable around it. Overall, it is a totally integrated role to me.
How do these three roles inform each other for you?
There is no doubt that teaching reinforces the way you think to yourself. There is no better way to test what you are thinking then to have to explain it out loud to somebody else. Teaching makes you better at your own project, but it can also ware you out on your project too. Students usually scare you to the degree that they can immediately incorporate your project and go further. But you are learning from them and understanding that you have to keep moving. Being an artist also influences my family in several ways. In one way, we had to sacrifice where we live. We live above my studio because I need it and that is the only way we can afford this particular type of space. Although it may be a sacrifice in one way, but does not seem to destroy anything, it just makes things more particular.
What are some key aspects that you believe are crucial for managing multiple roles?
All of these extra things that must be done are the sanity makers, the structuring devices. They are the ‘in-between’ that can play out this exhausted process of trying to find poetic manifestations of your ideas. Multiple roles should be seen to help each other, but there would be a point where they get in the way, so you have to be clever enough to understand how to balance them. As soon as you know one thing is getting in the way, you have to knock it off regardless of the money. It is a constant balance of questioning: even now for me – will I go on with academia, what it is going to do for me, if I am on an edge what will I do, and what will it do for me in favour of the art that takes presence. You can balance a large amount of things, and the faster you go the more you comprehend, so there is no limit. The biggest thing I have learnt as an artist is that you have to be ruthless with your work and trust your own instinct. You get to the point when you give an idea a 24 hour test to understand if it does or does not work. There is also a point when there needs to be a part of you that is incredibly stubborn – if the art is good you cannot cut down the art, you have to cut down everything else.
Further reading on artists with multiple roles: