Is there a world outside of Melbourne, if so what might it look like, and what would lead an individual to leave behind the worlds most liveable city? Once local theatre maker, now social photographer and commentator Kevin McGreal, is one such individual, having in the past few years left our cold grey skies, for those of London. The Melbourne Critique spoke with this fascinating artist about exactly why he left, the similarities shared between both cities, society and his latest exhibition.
What led you to decamp from Melbourne to London?
I wanted to be shaken up; I wanted a different perspective. I wanted to step away from my default mindset and all its comforts.
What are some of the similarities and differences between the two locations in terms of its people, life, style and culture?
Anonymity. In London, everyone is a little ship in a big harbour. Isolation and solitary presents new challenges and offers glimpses into exciting possibilities if you are willing to ask yourself the right questions. London is a battle; you learn to fight for everything. It makes me fine tune what makes me happy and my goals and ambitions. London is a working city. it’s never had its golden days. People come here for a reason. You need goals to survive London. It’s an expensive city, but it’s a fun city with much choice. Every city has style. You have to participate in order to appreciate that.
What is your background as an artist, and how has the role you and your creation play changed over recent years?
I’m a trained actor with a Bachelor of Literature and a Masters of Creative Writing. I was initially a rebellious kid and a DIY artist, probably because I came from a high-achieving family where my dad is a self-made man and that’s what I watched and learnt. Now I’m more collaborative and understanding. I work in different mediums nowadays; I think it’s the best way to pursue and communicate my ideas.
My work is more outward looking nowadays. It’s still using themes of identity, but with an awareness to connect people and hopefully shake them up in a loving manner. I think my work is about the world living together—enjoying the fullness of life around you and less about dragging people to hell and back! Faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains!
What’s this latest exhibition about and where in London will it be exhibited?
(In)voluntary Masculinity: Becoming a Greek God is a photographic exhibition. I gave over twenty photographers the same brief, but they had to use me as their model. They captured what masculinity and male identity means in contemporary life. I wanted to reimagine masculinity. The most truthful way was to make it a collaboration with many outside eyes, without ego and with curiosity. I’m always trying to find ways of discovering things about people and in the process discover more about myself.
What role does art play in shopping a global conversation? How does art bridge this conversation?
A huge part. It can reach so many people. There’s so much anxiety across the globe, so much fear mongering playing on the uncertainty in people’s lives. Art can comfort us whilst allowing us to question our lives. It can offer sanctuary and hope. I think the conversation can reach many if we don’t allow ourselves to be subordinate, including anyone who can potentially exploit the impact of art for their own gain. For me, art can steady the mind and drive me forward to create a world where everyone is allowed to be happy with a respect for other. Art can teach us many things, especially how we react to situations whilst we live hand in hand.