Unless you’re one of those people who enjoys the spectacle of their own feet so much that they’ve completely neglected that Sydney is blossoming with street art right now (and given that you’re reading this, I very much doubt that you are), you’ll most probably have seen Ears’ work around town.
Newtown, Marrickville, Ultimo, Surry Hills: he gets about. In fact, Flickr currently boasts pics of around 40 original pieces by the artist, mostly whacked-out bodyless portraits verging from the cartoon-like to the Picasso-esque and thrown up either directly in paint or as paste-ups. Whatever the style employed, the character portrayed is always basically the same. Ears explains, ‘It’s a morbid self portrait I guess. Although, I wouldn’t say it’s one character really. Different personalities seem to come out in each one. I try to keep them changing and put different feelings into them every time.’
Ears insists that his work is primarily emotionally driven rather than being conceptual, an approach in fact which he claims is common to much of the Sydney scene.
‘I have an urge to paint and I just go nuts, you know. It’s not so much about conveying a message or being political, and I think that goes for a lot of Sydney’s artists actually. It’s what sets us apart from Melbourne in a way. It seems that there are a lot more politically driven street artists in Melbourne, or people with a message behind their work. And that ties in really well with all the stenciling that goes on in Melbourne. Me and my friends just have fun drawing strange creatures and characters. We aren’t thinking too much about it. We’re big kids really.’
Big enough, at least, to set up and run what Ears calls ‘a catalogue of street art/illustration/photography/poetry/creativity to inspire people into action.’ Oh Really Magazine, which is currently getting ready to run its fifth issue, is based out of a gallery space on Enmore Road: ‘A place to show emerging street artists, and foster the community. We’re hoping people will come and hang out to do some sketching/painting and get more active.’ An exhibition at the gallery featuring works on cardboard by Ears and fellow Sydneysiders Syke, Max Berry and Kwan just before Christmas was a roaring success. Which is hardly surprising, given that the works were going for a steal at 20 bucks a pop. An original work by Ears on canvas or wood could go for anything upwards of 250 dollars.
What’s next for Ears then, I wonder? ‘Well, I’m working on a collab book with Max Berry…otherwise, more exhibitions, paste-ups, walls etc. Just keep moving, I guess.’ And last but not least, what’s with the name? How did Ears settle on, well, ears? ‘It’s a tribute to the importance of music in my life,’ He cites The Red Eyes, The Black Keys, Flogging Molly and Reverse Polarity amongst his favourite acts. ‘And above all a reminder to myself to keep on listening.’ Now I’ll drink to that.
Check out Ears’ work here: