Elven - French

Elven – French – 22 years old – 310 days in Australia

I met Elven in Melbourne. This artist arrived in Australia with an art idea and will then travel the world. Here is his story.

‘Back in France, I had in mind a World Tour Project. I could have decided to continue my studies in graphism but I wanted to learn something from and with people around the world. So I decided to leave.

I choose Australia because it seemed to be an easy country to meet people and backpackers. As the majority of the people, I first thought about going to Sydney, but after few research on the internet I discovered that in terms of culture, art, painting, street art, … THE best city was definitely Melbourne. And there was apparently nowhere else better in Australia.

My project is focused on participative art. The idea is pretty simple, I’m working on a painting on a wall as a street artist and then I’m inviting people to take part of it, to involve them and create something together. Melbourne is my first city to start and I have in mind to do that for the next ten years maybe. My goal is to stop in every small cities, start to paint and invite people. I started in Melbourne because it is easier and I need time for me to know what could work and what will probably not.

Last time I did it for the aboriginal communities when the government decided to close many communities in Australia and a massive crowd was protesting in Melbourne. All the money I collected that day from people who painted with me went to the aboriginals.

What I find interesting in my project is that the painting on the wall is not mine anymore. This painting become their art. I’m only the conductor, I will help to organize the work to do not have a mess but I’m taking a step back on this whole new art. You can’t even expect completely the result and you will be always surprised. Sometime people have an idea, sometime they don’t so it’s your responsibility to help them to find what they can do and how they can participate.

So, here is the work of passersby and me, I’m supporting them. Im giving them the basis to start and then they have to do the rest. I’m 20% and they are 80% of the final result.

In France I used to work with children mostly and now I’m working with all generations together, children, parents, grandparents, and people with different nationalities. You have people whom never met before but they are working together on the same wall to create one and unique art.

More I’m seeing that, more I’m thinking about a new idea. We could imagine people who have conflict and make them work on the same place. For example and I’m taking the extreme situation here, Palestinians and Israelians. The first group will paint on the wall and after, the second group will also continue the painting without knowing that the first one was someone they would have never talked with. And this is the purpose of art as well, bringing people together. In the final result, they would have created something together while in their daily life, they wouldn’t have talked or even met each other, but the art could recreate the link. At this point, they will maybe understand that there is no difference anymore.

I have many ideas in my mind but for the moment I’m focusing on a big work for me.

I’m currently building a caravan-pushbike. Basically, in the caravan I will have everything for the comfort and every day I will ride. The speed of the bike will probably be around 25km/hour but I’m not in a rush, I have ten years to complete my world tour so no need to worry about the time. And if this prototype works, I would like to build others to have people with me on the road. So maybe at the end we would be ten people on the road stopping to every little city, a painter, a musician, a doctor, … but this is a BIG idea !

Its maybe unrealistic or utopian but I believe in it. In France, when I was talking about my bike project, people were not confident, they told me ‘it could not work’ and they insist a lot on negative points. Yes it could not work but it could work as well. And here in Australia, people are more supportive, telling you how the idea is great but they will forget to tell you about the negative points. If I don’t do it, I will never know and I will be frustrated. I want to know if that could be possible and I will work hard for that.

For me, my project is all about the people. Without them, my project wouldn’t mean anything and would be empty. I decided to stay for a while in Australia, then going to New Zealand, Asia, Europe, Russia, Canada, US, South America, and I think I will leave Africa for the end because this continent is full of really interesting art and culture.

Painting is also a language and what will be very interesting to see at the end is all different paintings with all influences from countries I visited. The style is different, the meaning is different, colors are different, forms, symbols, … The goal is not to have something similar, is to show differences and that differences could work together and could be brought together to create a unique project with meanings.

For example between France and Australia, I think that Australians are more into the abstract art, they paint for themselves not for others. In France children are more into the abstract art as well because they don’t think much, they don’t mind as long as they do something, they just go and paint. French adults, will first think about what they are gonna paint for fear of being judged by someone else and when they are ready they will take time. At the end, children, parents, australians, french, … created a painting they like and would be proud of it.’

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