The darker side of searching for paradise


Fraser Anderson began his creative career not at art school, but as an art director for a surf and skate fashion label in his home state of Western Australia. Anderson’s role was hands-on and he made complex and large-scale installations for advertising the brand. Now known as a sculptor, he says, “For me it was a natural evolution from the work I was doing.”

These days, Anderson lives and works in Sydney, but he has also spent time in Bali and West Papua. As he explains, he finds himself drawn to pristine parts of the world. A keen diver, the artist tries to capture some of the mystery and beauty of the flourishing marine life he has seen in these places, particularly visible in his abstract wall reliefs. Pigment and resin saturated, Anderson’s panels include natural sea sponges gathered from beaches in WA.

Of course, Anderson is not alone in being attracted to the world’s unsullied places, and in his solo show Swami’s Gremlin Retreat, he points to the darker side of some of the other seekers he has found in stunning natural locations. This evocative title is a nod to a self-styled swami he met once, a man who dropped the peace and love and turned into a chainsaw-wielding maniac when provoked. But, Anderson laughs, “There is an inner gremlin in us all—a disparity between the image we project and what’s going on inside.”

In addition to his colourful sea sponge works, Anderson will present a series of sculptural mixed-media “dwellings” in Swami’s Gremlin Retreat. The artist prefers not to specify the precise nature of the retreat he’s trying to conjure. “It’s choose your own adventure,” he says, “to keep it exciting.”

Swami’s Gremlin Retreat
Fraser Anderson
Darren Knight Gallery
7 March—4 April

This article was originally published in the March/April 2020 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Preview Words by Tracey Clement