Paul "Presser" Towner

The Annandale hotel, one of Sydney’s most popular live music venues converted their unused top level into an art space to host Dead Galaxy, an exhibition of collage works by Paul “Presser” Towner, drummer from Sydney band, Gerling. The band formed in 1993, with a music career spanning almost fifteen years and four studio albums, their success has included an international tour, performances alongside burlesque act, the Suicide Girls and collaborative tracks with Kylie Minogue and Solex. Dead Galaxy is Towner’s first art exhibition. DailyServing recently caught up with Presser to discuss the work.

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DS: Dead Galaxy has an apocalyptic feel to it. What made you choose the title for the exhibition, and what does it mean to you?

PT: I have had a rather turbulent year, a lot of personal crap that ended up

with myself having a broken heart and soul. When I moved out of my house and into the new pad I felt alone and quite empty. The name Dead Galaxy became everything, the solo album I am going to write, the name of the house I live in, the movie that I want to write the screenplay for and the exhibition…the next exhibition will be

called Dead Galaxy also.

DS: How long have you been working on the pieces within Dead Galaxy, and did you create many other works that didn’t make the final cut for the show?

PT: Half the pieces were done in a period of the past 5 years, the other half I did in the past 6 months. I have a few that didn’t show in the exhibition

DS: Was this due to them not sitting right within the exhibition, or because you weren’t ready to let go of them?

PT: I thought that there was more than enough already. I had 26 pieces on display which is quite a lot. With all the pieces I felt odd and scared to put them up for sale but then with advice from a couple of friends it really did need to happen. I do feel that it was time to set them free.

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DS: The Annandale seemed the perfect site for your collection. What attracted you to this space as opposed to other Sydney galleries?

PT: The Annandale Hotel is a venue where I have played at for years now; it was also my local for a good 3 years. When I decided to have the exhibition it was originally going to be at a shop but due to the too many cooks theory it had to be somewhere else. I rang Matt from the ‘Dale’ and within 3 minutes the show was booked in and the date slotted. He introduced me to Shona that works there and she told me that she already envisioned putting on exhibitions upstairs, which was great. I was really happy with the night, perfect space! To be honest I’ve only ever been to one exhibition…outside of the major art galleries… in Darlinghurst, It was Rhys Lee from Melbourne, I can’t remember the gallery though.

DS: All of the pieces present in Dead Galaxy are collage works. Do you create other art using different forms and mediums?

PT: Nah, I can’t paint for shit, I can draw stupid little monsters with dumb looks on their faces. All the collage work I’ve done and will do in the future are

all hand done, no computers, no Photoshop. I think that the most special feature of my work is that there will always be a physical version of it, that you can touch.

DS: Collage seems to be a bit of a lost art form today, with new media practices hijacking the contemporary art scene. What made you choose this particular medium?

PT: Yeh I know, a few people on the night said they haven’t seen much collage art since the late 60’s early 70’s. To me that’s kinda cool because most of the images are from that era too. I chose to work with this medium because it seemed natural to me, I feel I know exactly where to place an image, or how to cut and attach something over something completely random. My house is full of books and magazines, cut outs and pieces of books everywhere. It’s messy but who cares, it’s just me here.

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DS: Where are the images within the collages derived from?

PT: All kinds of books and magazines, from science books, National Geographic, monster mags… you name it, sources from all sorts and years.

DS: Have you always had an interest in creating art, or is this a relatively new discovery for you?

PT: I’ve been doing this for 15 years give or take. Darren (Cross, lead vocalist and guitarist of Gerling) and myself did all the Gerling CD and poster art. We called ourselves the Deli Brothers at one stage as a bogus company to try and get work without people knowing that it was us doing it. Brisbane Uni contacted the Deli Brothers yahoo address and commissioned us to do a cover of their uni mag. It was rather funny…well for us.

DS: What artists do you admire, and what are your thoughts on the current Sydney art scene?

PT: I’m so out of touch with modern artists, not to be rude but I consider what I do as bedroom art, so until last week I never even thought of myself as an artist. Two artists I really like are Tretchikoff and Dali.

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DS: As this is only your first exhibition, do you hope to continue with your art practice, possibly one day displaying your work on an international scale?

PT: That would be amazing; I don’t know what the future will plan for me.

I do know what I’d really like to another exhibition. And at the Annandale Hotel again, and then branch off to other galleries/pubs.

DS: The Annandale Hotel is looking for other artists to exhibit their work. If you live in the Sydney area and would be interested in this opportunity please email Shona at shona_is(at)hotmail(dot)com for more information.

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