ECONOMIC ENGINE ROOM: Artist Steven Giese in his studio in Clunes.
ECONOMIC ENGINE ROOM: Artist Steven Giese in his studio in Clunes.

From teaching to doing

After 13 years teaching visual arts at Lismore TAFE Steven Giese is now putting theory into practice for himself.

While he waits to hear if recent State Government cuts will affect the visual arts program at TAFE - and his position - he has embarked on a new series of commercially-focussed works.

"My job has always been to help people harness their passions and experience and put that into the one place, be it through painting or print making," Mr Giese says.

"I have been encouraging people to develop this for 23 years and now I have to do it myself.

"My studio is the playground and it's soon to be the engine room of my future economy."

His new works focus on predatory birds and include luxurious touches of gold as well as objects from the natural environment.

For Mr Giese these works are deliberately designed to be appealing as decorative objects.

"I have always regarded painting as a site to which you bring some kind of philosophical proposition, but that does not always pay," Mr Giese says.

"So this is my entree into more commercially acceptable kind of work."

However, he is still philosophically committed to the works as issues to do with environmentalism are important to him.

Mr Giese believes that mankind may have reached a tipping point in terms of the destruction of the natural environment.

"I think the climate change is nature tapping us on the shoulder with a warning," he says.

"In the future I see collapses and extinctions of species and environments especially around the equator and as an artist I am connected to all this.

"I believe an artist should be aware of these issues and bring that to the table. I think that is one of the artist's jobs."

As for the visual arts program at Lismore TAFE, Mr Giese believes that if it was to close the broader community would demand its reinstatement

"Art is a vocation and there is a lot of economic activity associated with it.

"Art also keeps people civilised and gives people a voice when they would not necessarily have a voice.

"Visitors come to Northern Rivers as tourists to see the environment and experience culture, so take away cultural training you are taking away the whole magnetism of the place," he says.

"I mean, no one goes to Venice to see accountants they go there to see the artists, and the same applies here."

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