Friday, May 08, 2009

Art Space Talk: Bronwen Hyde (Part 3)

Institutionalized: Untitled #10 by Bronwen Hyde
This is part 3 of my interview with Bronwen Hyde. To return to part 2 click, HERE
Brian Sherwin: Bronwen, do you have any concerns about the art world at this time?

Bronwen Hyde: At the moment I have a couple of concerns in regard to art and photography in particular.

The first is the increasing harassment of photographers in regard to photographing in public places, especially in cities like London. Although this seems to be a lesser issue in Australia, obviously precedents are set for Australia by countries like the UK and US, so it is still something that concerns me.

The second is the double standard I often see in regard to the censorship of and lack of acceptance of nudity in fine art photography versus nudity in other art mediums like painting and sculpture. The recent furore over Bill Henson's work with underage models is an example. No doubt if the models, irrespective of age, had been depicted in paintings the police would not have been so quick to sweep in and remove the works from the gallery, even if the paintings had been more graphic and disturbing.

I see similar issues in online photo-sharing sites where art nudes or art incorporating nudity are lumped together as “restricted” with images of penetration and other images that are clearly pornography, when the same people viewing the work on the site can walk into a gallery and see larger-than-life nude statues. The art world seem to be able to differentiate clearly between art and pornography, but those outside it often seem unable to.
Simulacrum: pin-up by Bronwen Hyde

BS: There has been several stories involving copyright infringement in the mainstream press as of late. What is your stance on copyright? Do you see strong copyright as a reflection of artist rights in general? Or do you feel that copyright restricts creativity? Do you have a stance on this issue?

BH: I feel quite strongly about copyright, though I respect the right of other artists to opt for Creative Commons licenses in respect to their own work. In terms of artists referencing existing artworks, I feel there is room for tributes / homages to and commentary on other artworks / films / etc., however, crediting the inspiration in some way, even simply in the titling of the work is basic etiquette.

Creating derivative works, especially where the derivative work doesn't clearly reference or acknowledge the original work or artist, is something I believe should only be done with the permission of the artist, whether through their assigning of a Creative Commons license that allows the creation of derivative works, or with direct permission from the artist.

I've had other artists approach me at various times in regard to creating new interpretations of my work and I'm not adverse to the idea. Where permission has been given the final piece is akin to a collaboration in many instances. It is something that I feel is very personal though, and where you may be agreeable to one image being reinterpreted, you may not be agreeable to others.

In regard to copyright of concepts and ideas in art, it can be very difficult to prove and defend, and many argue there are no new ideas / everything's been done before. However, that doesn't mean you can't make an idea your own, or that you can never photograph the same subject or concept if someone else has already shot it (painted it, drawn it, etc). If that were the case we should all put our cameras, brushes, etc., down and move on with our lives without art.

In my view copyright doesn't stop you putting your own spin on an idea, subject matter, etc., but hopefully prevents artists copying something directly from the source. I have seen a number of instances recently where artists have copied quite specific concepts and compositions from other artists, and I believe that is only acceptable from a learning perspective and with full credit provided to the original artist, and in respect to online publication, with clear links to the original work.

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but passing off someone else's highly original concept as your own is something I find reprehensible. I do feel strong copyright is a reflection of artists' rights in general, in that especially with the visual arts, artists should receive the same level of credit and right to royalties as musicians, authors and such are entitled to.
Interiors: Untitled #3 by Bronwen Hyde

BS: As you know, the economy has been hard. Have you had to change-- or should I say adapt-- your practice due to the economy?

BH: As your stereotypical starving artist, I'm not sure I'm noticing a difference so far! But seriously, despite deciding in high school that I wanted to be a photographer, it's only been in the past 12 months or so that I've been pursuing my art full-time, and I only really threw myself back into photography in 2005 after being distracted by earning a living in office jobs and a 2 year photographer's block. So I'm still very much learning my way around at the moment in terms of developing, marketing and selling my art.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art?

BH: More of my photography can be viewed and purchased at and I am available for commissions.

This is the conclusion of my interview with Bronwen Hyde. To return to Part 1 of the interview click, HERE . You can read more of my interviews at Feel free to discuss Hyde’s work on the myartspace forum at,

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
Myartspace Blog on Twitter

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