Fuck Yeah! With Dion Horstmans
Dion Horstmans likes making shit. The explosion of energy upwards, smashing things together in a blaze of heat and flame. A sculptor, he works with steel and fire, the physical act of creation pushing him into a meditative state. We caught up with him after a long night on the highway, driving south to hang his latest show at the Flinders Lane Gallery in Melbourne.
First things first, what's for breakfast?
Eggs at Cumulus. Have you been? It's the best.
Where did fuck yeah start?
Fuck yeah! I'll do that, I'll give it a go. It's a positive affirmation that reflects my general excitement for life.
Your new show, Particle Fever, goes up today. Can you tell me about it?
Have you seen the movie The Square? It's about the bullshit of art talk. I just like making cool shit. The name of the show though comes from a film about a bunch of physicists mapping the trajectory of an atom. The pieces are all based on energy moving upwards from a horizontal line, the sunset at Bondi. The colours are what happens when you smash things together. I had a vision but it’s the first time I’ve seen the individual works together as a collective. It's fucking awesome, I'm stoked.
Do you have an end point in mind when you work?
If I have a show coming up I work towards that, trying to find continuity. I can't make an orange and then make a fork, there has to be a story. It takes hours and hours of putting yourself out there, but the ideas are on. Commissions are usually a version of something I've already done, still original but I can turn them out quickly. They're money in the bank that pays for me to have studio time.
Is the process of making important for you?
100%. I love the physical part of creation, that’s the meditative part for me. When I’m in the zone, thinking ten pieces ahead, working intuitively. Fuck yeah! It’s a winter sport though. It’s hot. I wear a full leather apron, gloves and a helmet and constantly smell of burning hair, flesh and leather. It's great.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Get up at 4.45am, run six soft sand laps, drink two coffees. Cut, grind, weld. When it's hot I swim but in the winter I work 10 hours a day, then train in the arvo. Gracie, my wife, has tried to get me to yoga but I'm on my own all day, in my head, and it’s a very lonely existence. When I finish I want to talk to people, shoot the shit. I train with my mates and we debrief or have a swinging dick competition – see how much we can lift.
Is is true that you once ran soft sand laps for 24 hours?
No. I ran 4 hours straight in one session. But in that week I probably ran 10 hours, 100 laps. I was heartbroken. Emotional pain is not tangible, the physical pain of running is. Your body hurts, it's cathartic.
You don't really do gentle, do you?
I come with an on and off switch, not a dial. I try to be gentle with Grace and my daughters but I'm pretty gung-ho. My youngest is living with us at the moment and my mantra with her is softly, softly – but I am not a gentle man.
How does it feel when you’re in your flow?
Present and peaceful. Completely absorbed. I have a burn at the moment from where I backed into a piece I'd just welded. When it happened I squealed like a pig and it hurts to sit, sleep and swim, and it keeps getting infected but it's part and parcel with what I do.
What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
Falling out of an aeroplane, freeflying – I like endorphins but not that kind of adrenalin. Shark diving. I've worked on fishing boats, I've seen what sharks do to other animals. Having a kid. The most terrified I've ever been was falling out of a window I was cleaning when I was 25. My body was shattered, and I was alone and vulnerable.
And a few quick ones to finish us off:
1. What’s the best meal you've had with friends?
I live with a really creative cook so I have the best meals every day, but last week I had a poké bowl down on the grass at Bondi with three of my best mates. We lay down to eat because we felt like it. My mate had a cigarette because he felt like it. You can't do that in a restaurant.
2. Something you make for yourself?
Every couple of weeks I have a 45 day-old dry aged ribeye steak. I don't like to eat meat at night so I barbecue it at work and eat it with hot English mustard.
3. Something you’ve cooked for a lover? Your tuning meal.
Ha! I don't think I have one. I love to make Polynesian raw fish salad. Slicing the fish, scraping and wringing out the coconut, squeezing the lime – it's a visceral experience.
4. What’s your dream project?
That changes constantly. On the drive to Melbourne there’s a bunch of large scale public art on the freeway. I'd love to have a go at that.
5. Favourite place to travel? What do you eat when you get there?
Hawaii is my new favourite place on earth, and I'd eat tuna poké. I grew up in the Pacific and it has all that natural beauty plus the infrastructure of America. Big fuck-off truck, huge roads. It blew my mind. And I’d eat tuna poké.