Artist Ian Strange traces eight years of his work through ABC iview series

23 March, 2017 by Jackie Keast

Artist Ian Strange first became captivated by the idea of home once he left his own, moving to New York from Perth over eight years ago. 


Home has formed the running theme in the multidisciplinarian artist's work since. He built a full-scale replica of his childhood home from memory on Sydney’s Cockatoo Island in 2011, and has gone on to create installation works using homes in post-GFC America and post-earthquake Christchurch, New Zealand.

The artist's conception of home as an idea has changed throughout the process, he told IF.

“I began to realise that as an adolescent, feeling isolated by the stability of suburbia was actually quite a luxury. There are a lot people who are feeling isolated because of its instability and how tenous it can actually be."

The last eight years of Strange’s work have been documented in a six part web series now availabe on ABC iview, Home: The Art of Ian Strange – directed by and co-written by Strange himself.

The show, produced by Transmedia for Change, was commissioned as part of the ABC and Screen Australia’s Art Bites initiative.

Strange, who has always used film in his work and to document his proess, had to hand over “crates and crates of hard drives” to editor and co-writer Dominic Pearce (Top Knot Detective). 

“I think it was 300 hours of footage that we had to go through and log. The rough cuts of each episode were about 30 minutes each. Then we had to get them down to five,” said Strange. 

Strange’s motivation in creating the series was to show his process. The artist can spend two years making a project, the outcome of which can be a 15-minute abstract film and a half dozen photographs in a gallery; he jokes he often struggles to explain what he does to his aunties at Christmas.

“It’s a really valuable thing as an artist for people to understand what goes behind the work," said Strange. "I think that makes people appreciate and look at the work differently."

"It’s really important to me [to show] that these are not effects-based photographs or anything like that, they’re real interactions and real things that happened on real houses that have their own histories.”

Brooke Silcox, whose 2016 doco Meal Tickets similarly involved piecing together years of archive footage, produced the series along with Amanda Morrison, a mentor of Strange, and Jedda Andrews, his long-term producer.

Finding a structure was the key challenge once the footage had been logged. Interviews with important figures in Strange’s career (interviewed by Pearce) helped glue the series together, and there was additional shooting of Strange in New York as he put together an exhibition. 

Strange hopes the series shows how he has evolved, and that being an artist is “mostly just tenacity and hard work. It’s not sexy.”

“I didn’t want to make something that was glorifying being an artist. There’s a whole episode about not really knowing what we were doing, and making things up and not having enough money.”

The process of putting the series together has made Strange realise there’s a longer story – a feature – to tell. “I don’t know if it’s for me to make (laughs). But it’s all there.”

In the meantime, Strange has lined up another feature doco, Hold Out, which will see him travel the world creating a new project and meeting homeowners who are refusing to leave their homes despite outside pressure. 

The film has received development funding from Screenwest, with Transmedia for Change co-producing with Madman. 

“It’s really a lot to do with my interactions with people and trying to tell a global story about people’s relationships to home,” said Strange.