Radio Inspire

How To Learn Sign Language

[Auslan] Just Sign Here: With Alex Jones & Stefan Kater

– [Voiceover] I’m here with Stefan Kater. Stefan is an artist. I just wanna say thank you
for chatting with me today. Stefan, I believe you were a born artist. Is that right, where are you from? Well, yes. I was born in Switzerland. At the time of my birth, my
mother was rather unhappy, so she decided to move to Australia. I was an eight month old baby when we landed in Melbourne, and when I was around, I don’t know,
four or five years old, my mother wasn’t sure how
to communicate with me. So, she showed me picture
books, and comics, and she saw my face light
up at the visual images. So she got some coloured pencils, and placed one in my hand, and showed me an image of a bird, and then directed me to copy it, which I did. I’m a very visual person, and I learn through images, not
through the written word. Everything that I’ve learned throughout my life, has been through my eyes. Well, recently, I went to the Art Gallery of New South
Wales, and I was really excited to be seeing your painting exhibited in the Sir John Sulman Prize. And I’d almost reached the end of the exhibition when I
stopped in my tracks, at the sight of your painting, titled, “A black diamond,”
depicting an African woman. It’s a painting of extraordinary quality. Photorealistic, like wow. Can you tell me the process that you went through to create this painting? Well, initially, I had no idea
what I was going to create. I started with a white board, which I covered with black paint. Totally black. And I had no idea what
was next, so I left it. Just left it, black. Later, I started to feel unwell, and I went to see the doctor. And whilst I was in the waiting room, I picked up a magazine, and as I was browsing through the images, I was struck by the face of a beautiful black woman. So I stealthily tore the
page from the magazine, folded it up, put it in my
bag, and when I got home, I looked closely at the image
and I was mesmerised by her. So I went to work on
replicating the woman’s face, and then I created the body and the background from my own imagination. When you were working on this
painting, was it actually your intention to enter it
into the Archibald prize? Well, no, it wasn’t my intention. When I painted the “black diamond,” that’s not what I was thinking, but every year, I do go along to the Archibald, the Wynne and the Sulman. I thought what I’d do, is
I’d have a look through, you know, some of my work, thinking about what I might be able to
enter into the Sulman prize, and when I came across my painting of the “black diamond,” I thought, hmm, yeah, that’s
a piece I’d like to enter. So I sent it off to get it framed, and then sent it off to the art gallery. So, is it easy to enter
the art competition? No, no, no. It’s very hard. It’s not easy at all. I think there are about 1,000
people who submit their work. There are so many people. And my work was chosen. Stefan, you’re deaf. The deaf community feels very proud that a deaf artist has
received this recognition. Is it the first time your work’s been accepted into the competition? Well no, no, no. Actually, in 1976, one of my paintings was hung as part of the Archibald prize. That felt really good
to have that exhibited. But, it’s been a journey, over
a number of years, and I do believe I’m the only deaf
person to have achieved this. Okay, 1976. Doing the math, that’s 39 years ago. I can’t remember how
many years ago it was. Well yeah, it is, it’s 39 years ago. So between your first
and most recent entry, have you had other attempts at the prize? Yes, I’ve had seven failed
attempts over the years. It’s very frustrating. I entered portraits of Jack
Thompson twice, and I also entered Martin Sharp’s portrait twice, without any success. So, this year, did you just
enter the Sulman prize? No, actually I entered all three. I entered the Archibald, the Wynne, and the Sulman prize. So I entered three different paintings, and there is an entry
fee for the competition, which is $50 per piece, so I paid my $150 in the hope of success. Unfortunately, I didn’t get
into the Archibald or the Wynne, but I was successful and
attended an interview to have my work hung in the Sulman. I was very excited. So do you have any plans
to enter again next year? Yes, yes, yes, I do. I’m gonna keep working on it. I don’t think I’ll ever give up. Look, thank you for your time, and I really do hope that other artists out there can learn something from you.

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