Artist Interview. April 8, 2022.
Rachael Archibald is a Meanjin based visual and sound artist. Although primarily digital, Rachael is no stranger to the physical, opting to work in garments and projections, allowing her to wear or be engulfed by her own pieces. Alongside appearances at festivals such as Vivid, her work has been exhibited online and around the world in cities such as Venice, Bristol, Vancouver, New York and more.
Her music forays include solo project Raquel, "a secular spiritual identity composing visceral ambience for disenchanting realities", Raum - a collaboration between herself and Timothy Green, and Lilith, a duo project with Necho Brocchi.
I grew up on the Gold Coast and moved here when I was 17 to study art. My Mum had always pushed me to do something after school, like dance or drama and I hated it! Screamed about having to go. Socially anxious child. Then she put me in an art class where there were 3 other quiet weirdos like me and an amazing teacher who let everyone do whatever they wanted.
He was so knowledgeable; he did Martial Arts and meditated and painted realistic fantasy art. Amazing guy! I studied art in High School, TAFE, Uni and now I'm here.
Over the years I've become more obsessive in my work in a way that I want to wear it, I want to live in it. It's a very curated life I live now. Since the last year of Art College, I've had an obsessive approach to making. Repetition of form. A slow build and minuscule changes that seem insignificant when you compare them to last year. When you compare to the last decade it's changed a lot.
I studied painting and drawing at Queensland College of Art and pretty much avoided making any paintings. I had more of a conceptual drawing style. But I didn't do anything digital until after I graduated. (Now I'm thinking about it, in my last year of High School art I did a digital work actually.) I can't tell you what drew me there in the first place. I grew up with computers so I was comfortable with them I guess.
The ability to undo. And to make multiples so easily. I'm unsure if my indecisiveness is a result of this power, or the medium just facilitates the indecision I already had.
My physical outputs have always been manifest in print media. Mostly fabric. I want to wear it, I want to live in and around it. When I perform, lately I've had a projection over me. I like being engulfed.
I don't think there is a conceptual distinction between my digital and physical work. They're just different ways of viewing the same thing. And they can be blended together.
As much as I'm an artist I don't think I'm imaginative. In the sense of being able to see something in my mind before I make it. The images come as I make them, and I think this means I don't see objects or scenes or landscapes. I can't plan ahead but rather work in realms that I feel are more immediate. Textures are immediate to me. Maybe this also is a thematic fascination with microcosms and detail.
I played the flute from grade 5 - 10; did the exams, was in a music excellence class in High School. It was so boring so I used to skip band and get hot chips instead. Then I moved into art. No one was telling me what notes to play.
When I was 21 I met Tim Green, my boyfriend at that time (turned best friend) who was studying at The Con and he was very influential. I'd say 100% influential in me playing music again. It took me until a few years ago to take it more seriously and find a medium and sound I liked. (Turns out it was computers again)
There are so many more possibilities for sound with DAWS and electronic music equipment. It functions exactly the same as art in terms of having infinite possibilities, the ability to undo, the ability to make multiples, taking your time, using the most expansive of sources.
Most of my artistic and musical output has been made public because of the fact that people ask me to do things. I rarely organise anything myself. That is a product of introversion. I greatly appreciate my friends and supporters who put on shows and ask me to make things or else I may never have done anything.
I'm a very nervous performer and am quite bad at it (I hide in front of my videos), however much I want to be more confident. And I can't say I enjoy it but it does push me to make things, I need deadlines and projects. That aspect I enjoy. There's always an idea of wanting to be better, wanting to be more interactive, when it comes to doing it the shy girl wants to hide in the corner. If I keep doing it, maybe I'll be confident on stage by 50.