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Greedy HensGreedy HensGreedy HensGreedy HensGreedy HensText: Fleur Mitchell Images: Greedy Hen

Greedy Hen is power duo Katherine Brickman and Kate Mitchell. Two insanely creative women who produce everything from video art, tour posters and album cover – and that’s only the beginning. No matter what the medium, their work is distinctive and instantly recognisable. Greedy Hen is defined by a subtle balance of naivety and old world weirdness, coupled with a darkly humorous, witchy vibe. It’s sort of like Victorian decoupage turned upside down and back to front, with a home spun, handmade touch that is present in everything they create.

Greedy Hen took time out to let Fleur Mitchell pick their brains and talk about, amongst other things, super-fiction, dream projects and the power of teamwork.

Fleur Mitchell: First off, how did you guys come to meet and form Greedy Hen?

Greedy Hen: We met years ago studying art. We then, quite organically, started working together kicking ideas around over a game of ping pong to see how far we could push an idea and then see if we could pull it off. Magically we always do!

FM: The creative output of Greedy Hen spans so many different forms from music clips to decoupaging plaster casts. What other creative mediums do you want to explore?

GH: We like exploring new mediums, seeing how ideas can manifest. It’s the most exciting thing, not being restricted or pigeon holed by a particular medium. That’s how we like to roll. Probably more explorations into different types of handmade animation, film techniques, we’d also like to experiment with printing onto fabrics, wearable art, and eventually we really want to look at making an epic Greedy Hen art book. We sometimes get worried that we won’t be able to do all the things we want to do within our lifetime.

FM: Greedy Hen has a really recognisable, yet unique style.  How would you describe your aesthetic? 

GH: Our work is tactile, messy, mixed media. Our backgrounds are in fine arts and so the way we look at things, the way we talk about things conceptually is informed by that. We’re just a couple of artists that happen to do a whole lot of things and get excited about a number of different mediums. we don’t like to limit ourselves with boundaries; we make art, we illustrate, we work in graphic design, we direct music videos, we make gig visuals, we make objects, we collage. Basically we cover so many different areas it seems a little archaic and stuffy to put ourselves into a box. 

But the great thing we’ve discovered about all this kingdom crossing is that for some reason, because we made it with our hands, it will always look like a Greedy Hen work no matter what medium. If we cooked a spaghetti everyone would know it was a Greedy Hen spaghetti just by the feeling it has. Like a very beautiful, slightly sinister, funny bolognaise.

FM: Your work perfectly blends a twee old world innocence with a darker, all knowing and humorous element. Do you enjoy the interplay between the two?

GH: We like when an image has more to it. When things look familiar like an old folk tale, but there’s something else going on that you can’t quite put your finger on. Imagery that you can sit with for a while trying to work out, but never actually come to a conclusion. We also love uncomfortable Andy Kaufman style humour. So our art work in a way blends all these things together and that interplay is what we find forever interesting and challenging. 

FM: Tell me about your recent exhibition at Lamington Drive Gallery Greedy Hen: Debut Album. You guys created a fictional band and all the trappings (except the sounds) that go along with it. What was the creative trigger that led you to create that work?

GH: Well the basic premise of the show is a Super-Fiction:  What would Greedy Hen be like if we were a band? At our studio we make a lot of album artwork, tour posters, and direct music clips for a variety of bands and musicians so we thought we’d see what it would look like if the tables were turned and we were our own heroes.

Visually, the show is predominately art prints. We made an album cover, wrote a track list of 10 songs, then we created an artwork for each of those 10 songs. The album launch is touring so we’ll have two more shows after the Melbourne exhibition, and as we go on the show is evolving.

We’re filming a music film clip of our hit single, pressing vinyl records with no grooves, and all the other visual cues that go along with an album launch, radio interviews, tour posters, etc. But there is no sound or music what so ever. We leave the void to the viewer to fill in. So that’s the general conceptual vibe.

FM: Other than Greedy Hen (of course), what band do you wish you could have been/be a member of?

GH: Kate wants to actually be Johnny Cash. Katherine wants to actually be Jonathan Richman.

FM: How do you go from the seed of an idea to it being fully realised? What’s your creative process like?  

GH: In a behind the scenes way we work like a tag team, Kate is the building blocks and Katherine is the fine details obsessive-compulsive finesse! Kate is the brain and Katherine is the eyes. Kate works best in the mornings and Katherine excels in the evening. You see? team effort wins the race! Kate usually ‘feels’ something and Katherine has a ‘clear vision’ of what it is. Then we bounce ideas around like ping pong, until it’s on it’s way. We work best when a client lets us run loose and we’re free to move in whatever direction we want. Or better still when there’s no client and it’s an art project. 

FM: Is it challenging working as a duo or does it have advantages? ?

GH: It’s like going on a choose your own adventure with someone else. You might end up in quicksand or on the secret level and you’ve got someone else there along for the ride.

FM: What themes, ideas and golden nuggets of goodness are you into at the moment?

GH: We’ve always been quite inspired by quirky nuances in the everyday like fogged up eye glasses, blue ink stains in the pocket of business man’s shirt, 60 cents under the couch, broken glass on the footpath looking like diamonds, dogs looking like their owners….

FM: What would your dream creative project be?

GH: Greedy Hen’s dream projects would be publishing a book and seeing the completion of a Greedy Hen clothing (and objects) range called ‘Adventure Club’.  Kate’s dream project would be looking after an island. Katherine’s dream project would be swinging in a hammock on Kate’s island.

FM: What are you working on at the moment?  

GH: We are working on a ‘live animation’ set with an overhead projector for the Oxford Art Factory Free Fall program, which is curated by John Douglas. We have the show coming up at Chalk Horse Gallery and we’re also chiseling away at putting together our art book opus.

Greedy Hen: Debut Album opens at Chalk Horse Gallery on Thursday September 29

Greedy Hen

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