Thomas Thwaites: He Doesn’t Act the Goat

     When navigating the social landscape, one discovers there are certain topics that spark conversations, and others that kill them entirely. “I want to live as a goat” tends to fall into the latter category.

     For designer Thomas Thwaites, however, this social rule didn’t apply. Astonishingly, it secured him a Wellcome Trust grant to live out his dreams as a goat. Citing his angst and dissatisfaction with the state of the world as the reason for such a venture, he hoped that life as an animal would be simpler. After studying goats and building a prosthetic goat suit, Thwaites found a herd of goats in the Swiss Alps to join. After such aspirations, he found himself somewhat challenged by the experience. The suit was uncomfortable and the lifestyle physically demanding. While the emotional experience of being a goat did not see Thwaites fully entering the mind of a goat, he did find a certain peace.

New Alchemists, 9 Dec 2017 - 7 Jan 2018-17
I, Goat, 2015. Sculptural armature, digital prints. Dimensions variable, video 16:06 mins. Installation view.

     Many might view Thwaites as mad, however, his project holds a certain dignity. The desire to be a goat is deep rooted and philosophical, while his explanation is down to earth. He acknowledges the humour in his concept, but seriously explores the boundaries between human and animal. His hypothesis that living life as an animal would be better than as a human is juxtaposed with a quote in his artist statement for I, Goat (2015):

It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, is of a different opinion, it is only because they only know their own side of the question. (Stuart Mill, 1879)

Here, Thwaites retrieves the viewer from their inclination to believe he is mad, and forces them to think. Beyond the prosthetics, the mountains and the goats, there is a deeper answer being sought: what is humanity?  Is it an entity entirely separate from the animal kingdom? Does technology render humanity superior? Or is humanity equal to their evolutionary family, including goats?

     Each individual takes their own view with this philosophical dilemma. For some, the existence of the dilemma itself defines humanity by its thought. Others see inter species equality. Thwaites believes it is the faculty for stories that marks the divide between homo sapiens and other animals (Barkham, 2017).

     Thus, Thwaites tells his own story about living as a goat and one is fascinated. In New Alchemists, curated by Dr Alicia King, Thwaites’ endeavor finds solace with other artists who push biological boundaries. Perhaps his herd is comprised not of goats, but instead of experimental and revolutionary artists.

 – Eleanor McCormack, DROOGs

 

New Alchemists, 9 Dec 2017 - 7 Jan 2018-15
I, Goat, 2015. Sculptural armature, digital prints. Dimensions variable, video 16:06 mins. Installation view.

References

Barkham, P. (2017). No kidding: what I learned from becoming GoatManthe Guardian. Retrieved 4 January 2018, from https://www.theguardian.com/science/shortcuts/2016/may/15/no-kidding-what-learned-from-becoming-goatman

Myall, S. (2016). Man ate grass and lived as a goat after giving up on stressMirror. Retrieved 4 January 2018, from http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/real-life-stories/i-fed-up-life-went-7956015

Ramsey, L. (2016). This man just won a very special award for turning himself into a goatBusiness Insider. Retrieved 4 January 2018, from http://www.businessinsider.com/thomas-thwaites-goat-man-ig-nobel-2016-9/?r=AU&IR=T/#after-six-days-thwaites-completed-his-journey-across-the-alps-as-a-goat-but-he-says-hes-not-done-yet-hes-been-invited-to-hang-out-with-other-goats-this-summer-when-he-can-hopefully-push-his-prototype-further-i-just-think-id-like-to-continue-iterating-this-thing-to-get-to-this-dream-to-actually-gallop-he-said-15

Stuart Mill, J. (1879). Utilitarianism. 7th ed. London: Longmans, Green, and Co.

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National Youth Week 2017

This year Devonport Regional Gallery extended its National Youth Week programming after receiving funding from the Tasmanian Community Fund. This allowed the Gallery to offer a paid mentorship opportunity for a young person to develop event and project management skills.

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Reclaim in full swing. Photographer: Kelly Slater

The Sketchbook Project Exhibition, 31 March – 8 April

Across six weeks from the end of February, young people across the North West collected a handmade sketchbook to fill with their drawings, ideas and writing using pencil, ink, paint, charcoal, collage, pastel and more as part of the Devonport Sketchbook Project.

The Devonport Regional Gallery and their young members committee, The Droogs presented The Sketchbook Project Exhibition at Devonport LINC. A total of 88 sketchbooks featured in this public exhibition from 31 March – 8 April.

The Sketchbook Project celebrates and promotes young people and their talents in the North West, and provides a space for public viewing of their work.

Youth Rewind, 1 – 2 April

Free activities and workshops took place across the two days of Youth Rewind, including live music performances by young musicians and a community jam, meditation, yoga and dance workshops and sand art activities.

The focus of Youth Rewind was to promote positive wellbeing and for young people to socialise, exercise and learn coping mechanisms with their peers in a fun and relaxed setting.

Reclaim the Lane, 7 April

For its sixth consecutive year, Reclaim the Lane returned to Rooke Lane, Devonport, on Friday 7 April, 3.30–5.30 pm to an audience of approximately 700 people. The free event transformed Rooke Lane into a vibrant celebration of youth arts and music for all ages to enjoy.

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KT Hollywood with her work. Photographer: Kelly Slater

Burnie artist, KT Hollywood was this year’s resident artist and she created a new work in the lane. Reclaim the Lane also featured various art-making areas this year; a collaborative ‘Massive Mandala’ led by young, local artist Rachel Kumar, and a Zentangle class led by Launceston CZT, Michele Beauchamp. The popular event also featured the Red Turtle photo booth, a henna tattoo artist, face painting by the Droogs, performances by Mr Inferno and Jayden Mineur, and interactive stalls by youth service providers.

Outside Laneway Café there were also two musical workshops; a percussion workshop run by local musician Brad Von Rock, and a ukulele workshop, facilitated by young talent, Grace Maher. The space was popular with all ages.

A small Youth Market was established this year, focusing on giving young emerging makers and artisans a chance to sell their work.

Live music by young local performers entertained audiences throughout the event with performances by students at Geneva Christian College, Melinda Powell, Tia and Siobhan, Henry Rippon and Molly O’Brien.

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Photographer: Kelly Slater

For the second consecutive year, windows of local Rooke Lane businesses were also transformed by young people as they expressed their views and goals for the future, responding to ‘What I would like to change about myself”, ‘What I would like to change about Devonport’ and ‘What I would like to change about the world’.

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The Droogs at their stall at Reclaim the Lane. Photographer: Kelly Slater

Reclaim the Lane is organised by Devonport Regional Gallery and its young members, the Droogs, in partnership with Devonport City Council and Youth, Family and Community Connections. The event was jointly funded by the Department of Premier and Cabinet National Youth Week funding program, YFCC and Devonport City Council.

Droogs create street art for Devonport Bookshop

Over the last three months Devonport Regional Gallery’s young members, the Droogs have been working on the design for a new mural at the back of the Devonport Bookshop with street artist Katie Houghton-Ward (aka KT Hollywood). Katie and the Droogs started installing their work over the weekend, with many passers-by stopping to check out the progress and provide positive feedback.

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Devonport Bookshop owner, Tim Gott, invited the Droogs to create an artwork that covered the store’s back wall in an effort to reduce graffiti in the area. Under the mentorship of artist Katie Houghton-Ward, the Droogs have developed an artwork inspired by literature, fiction and fantasy.

The artwork has been drawn from the concept of a bookshop: a place which contains myriad fictional and non-fictional characters, landscapes and emotions, and a place that inspires and captures the imagination.

Each Droog has contributed something personal to the mural, either creating their own book cover, character or poem, reflecting something of themselves and the literature that inspires them.

The mural depicts a bookshelf with selected covers facing the viewer. Amongst the stacks of books and pages, characters come to life, as they do for any reader.

See the mural’s progress over the next two weeks as Katie and the Droogs complete the work.

L-R: Artist, Katie Houghton-Ward; Droog, Ashleigh Butler

Devonport Regional Gallery’s Droogs are a group of young volunteers aged between 15 and 30 who assist with a variety of arts projects and events in Devonport, namely Reclaim the Lane, Four 8 Film Festival and The Sketchbook Project. New members are always welcome and inquiries can be made at the Gallery.

Young people reclaim the lane

For its fifth consecutive year, Reclaim the Lane returned to Rooke Lane kicking off National Youth Week in Devonport on Friday 8 April, 3–5 pm to an audience of over 500 people. The free event transformed Rooke Lane into a vibrant celebration of youth arts and music for all ages to enjoy.

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Launceston artist, Josh Foley was this year’s resident artist and he created a new work in the lane. Visitors throughout the day saw Josh in action as he created the work on the concrete retaining wall between Rooke Lane and Payne Avenue car park, completing it at 5 pm.

“Using abstract painterly motifs I will seek to imbue the area with colour, life, vitality and movement which are all celebrations of youth. As young people grow they seek to leave their mark and brighten up the world around them; by eradicating the drab grey of the concrete the work aims to represent this. The coloured motifs will also dance across the background in a musical way which eludes to the importance music has in the life of a young person as they seek to define themselves among their peers.” – Josh Foley

View a time lapse video of Josh Foley creating his work on YouTube here

Reclaim the Lane also featured various art-making activities including a collective colouring-in zone by Devonport Regional Gallery, Red Turtle photo booth, a henna tattoo artist and face painter, performances by Slipstream Circus, The Sketchbook Project exhibition and interactive stalls by youth service providers Headspace, Working it out, Mi Fellowship and Youth, Family and Community Connections.

Live music by young local performers entertained audiences throughout the event with performances by students at Geneva Christian College, Zac Weeks, Patrick Murphy, Josh Tomé and Molly O’Brien.

Windows of local laneway businesses were also transformed by young people as they expressed their views and goals for the future, responding to ‘Before I die I want to…’, ‘What I like in Devonport’ and ‘What I’d like to change about Devonport’.

Reclaim the Lane is organised by Devonport Regional Gallery and its young members, the Droogs, in partnership with Devonport City Council and Youth, Family and Community Connections. The event is jointly funded by the Department of Premier and Cabinet National Youth Week funding program and Devonport City Council.

Photographer: Kelly Slater