The James Gleeson oral history collection

James Gleeson interviews Australia's major artists

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Peter Cripps

29 November 1979

James Gleeson: So you are really a conceptual artist in the meaning that has been given to conceptual art?

Peter Cripps: What's that, you tell me?

James Gleeson: Well, that you're dealing with ideas and concepts rather than techniques or specific objects.

Peter Cripps: Techniques have never been important to me because since I was very young I've always had them available. I mean, I think they seem to become a preoccupation if you have to make an effort to learn them. You become preoccupied. Unless, perhaps there's a difference there when it becomes a craft occupation, I'm not sure. Something to think about. Yes, my interests are those aspects.

James Gleeson: Yes. What interests me in this particular work was there was so many levels of ideas involved in it, and yet they were expressed in a concrete form that would stand up to the context of a gallery. So much of, you know, conceptual art exists in its reading the ideas, which might be fascinating in themselves, but aren't necessarily attractive or good pieces for a museum or a gallery. But yours did seem to me to have that quality of having the exciting ideas, complex of ideas, and yet being expressed in concrete forms rather than so many words.

Peter Cripps: Sure, that's right, because I'm very much an object maker and an image maker. I'm very much involved in that.

James Gleeson: Yes. So you span both worlds.

Peter Cripps: Oh yes, yes. I think I'm an artist rather than a–

James Gleeson: A conceptual–

Peter Cripps: Or a sculptor. I mean, it's how to illustrate an idea of concept. It's how to make it concrete or make it obvious and, I mean, you do it within which ever way you it suits it, rather than fitting within a mode or a straight jacket of–

James Gleeson: Or a medium or a style.

Peter Cripps: Yes.

James Gleeson: Yes, exactly.

Peter Cripps: Because mediums are not important to me.

James Gleeson: No, no. So you create your own way of saying this thing that's in your mind?

Peter Cripps: Yes, yes. Yet I love painted images and I'm particularly attracted to some of your earlier images.

James Gleeson: Oh, thank you. How long do you think it will be before your caravan is finished?

Peter Cripps: Oh, I've given up setting dates because I've done that before and, you know, each date recedes into the past and that's a bit disturbing. I hope soon. I've just leased a fourth floor warehouse, a very grand project with some friends and my brother and–I'm only one of a number of people–we're setting up a workshop on the ground floor. That's where I'll finish the physical work on the caravan. I have a floor as well where I live and work. So probably after Christmas hopefully that will be operative. You know, it won't be finished. But, I mean, it's sort of liveable at the moment, but that's about it. So perhaps 12 months; whatever it takes.


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