Meet Ravi Avasti, Master of Contemporary Art graduate, University of Melbourne
Kyneton based Ravi Avasti completed a Master of Contemporary Art at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne in 2018. He was awarded the Fiona Myer White Story Residency for his work in the Masters exhibition and held a solo exhibition Little Fleas at Grau Projekt, Melbourne, in 2019. Avasti shares how his art practice was influenced by the VCA art community.
Has your understanding of art (and your own practice) changed since being at the VCA?
Prior to my time at the VCA, I was focussed on making and viewing "my kind of art". The Master of Contemporary Art course requires a much broader and more generous approach than that, which really opened my eyes to the practices of others, and my place within the wider community. The input of my peers and teachers through rigorous seminars was absolutely invaluable in helping me begin to crystallise my understanding of, and develop a robust dialogue around, my own practice.
Did you have many opportunities to collaborate?
I am a team player, but not a natural collaborator. We held a number of group shows as part of the MCA though, which required collaboration with the curators and co-exhibitors.
What kind of art do you most respond to as a viewer?
I am most drawn to artworks that offer the opportunity to experience a new perspective. In particular, I enjoy works that surprise me in some way.
Can you tell us about the pathway you took to the VCA?
I spent some years working in the financial services industry before relocating to Australia. I took that opportunity to re-skill as a furniture designer and maker, and eventually found my way to becoming a visual artist.
Describe a typical day for you at the VCA
I would generally arrive at 10 am, after dropping my children at school, and either head straight to a lecture or head to the studio. For me, my VCA studio was a place for discussion and supervision as I have a studio and workshop at my house. It’s great to have the facilities at home, but the opportunity to spend time with the group and staff was one of the most valuable outcomes from the MCA.
What inspires you?
What I see inspires me: reflections, shadows, glimmers and twinkles. Also, anything that makes me go, “ha!...huh?”
What are the challenges?
I have worked by myself for many years, so becoming a member of a community and stepping outside an exclusively autonomous working practice was an interesting process. The benefits of making the change were astonishing though, and the sense of support and community that I found has continued well beyond the completion of the course. It can also be difficult to structure life around the requirements of the course, and then find the discipline to follow that structure!
Why did you decide to study at the VCA?
The VCA was recommended to me by a friend, and after coming to have a look at the campus and meeting the amazing John Meade, I was convinced.
What do you enjoy most about your study?
The opportunity to receive critical responses to my work, and to offer the same. It is a rare privilege to hear 20 artists discussing your work for an hour! Also, the friendships that I found.
Can you tell us about a study highlight?
Our final group seminar was the perfect example of how the cohort would offer critical responses to work in an open, honest, brave and always respectful manner. It was truly moving to experience the group shift from dynamic argument to caring community in a heartbeat.
What are your goals for the next few years?
I will continue to make and exhibit work, and read and write, while being a partner and dad. I also intend to spend the next couple of years questioning my practice, with a view to forming a "question" that warrants exploration through a PhD.
How will your VCA experience help you succeed in your chosen field?
My time at the VCA has given me confidence in my knowledge of my practice, which I feel is a key tool in developing a career as a practising artist.
What advice would you give to prospective students who want to pursue a career in your field?
Approach your chosen course with a very open mind: broadening your knowledge and experience bases early on is invaluable to a focused practice in the future.
How do you relax outside of study?
For the past few years I have been propagating and collecting trees for a Japanese garden. I find caring for these plants very relaxing, particularly the pruning and shaping, which will only show results in many years’ time.