Ever wondered how art and writing interrelates?

Following immense success in Vancouver, Duality is an art experiment that anonymously pairs 25 visual artists with 25 writers from a city to explore individuality and narrative, photographing each individual in their own creative space. Opening at No Vacancy Gallery this Friday, we caught up with creator Shannyn Higgins and had a chat about her inspirations for the experiment, music and of course Duality:

If you were a part of the experiment, what would rather do – write or create?
Words and I aren’t the best of friends. I have a way of jumbling them or saying them incorrectly all the time – a classic term of endearment for my friends as they try not to jest. So definitely create, a much more familiar platform.

What inspired you to bring Duality to Australia?
Having lived in the Northern Hemisphere for well over 10 years I felt it was time to head home for a little bit. So creating Duality in Vancouver was a little thank you to a city and arts community that had been incredible to work in and after having had so much fun with that show, it just seemed to be a logical step to bring it back to my home city.

What does your creative space look like?
The irony of this is that I’m between places at the moment. I still spend half of my time in Canada so having just returned from working the summer there I’m still setting up my Melbourne chapter. I tend to gravitate to lots of light, a touch of organised chaos balanced with negative space, and lots of artwork and notes I’ve been gifted by friends over the years.

What type of music do you listen to when you’re doing your own artwork?
On photo shoots, it’s always the client’s choice. In my editing time though, I’m a sucker for chill tunes – helps to multi task or daydream away.

What have you learnt from the experience?
I’ve learnt so much about how people approach their work, what their routines are and even if they colour code their bookshelves or file them alphabetically. So many great conversations were had sitting on the floor of a studio or asking a writer or artist about their work. One of my favourite parts is the banter when collecting artwork from artists and talking through their process and how they made the words their own. I tend to have a goofy smile as I know the writer and my brain is always playing out how true it rings to their sentiments.

Do you hope to re-create Duality again in a different sense – say video?
Duality comprises five really intricate elements; 25 writers, 25 visual artists, these 50 artists photographed in their creative spaces, a book and an exhibition.
As a photographer the formula is perfect for me as a body of work. I’d be more likely to repeat it in more cities around the world than change it’s formula.

What music are you listening to right now?
Darkside is playing in the background as I type away.

What is your favourite type of photography?
I love working with people whether it be in a conceptual context or just candidly capturing them navigate through their day. There’s always these magic moments for sincerity that you get to record and that just makes it for me.

How does living in both Canada and Australia influence your own creative process?
Each time I come back to either Melbourne or Vancouver I feel like I’ve grown as a human and an artist, so I get to look at a place that is very familiar with fresh eyes. It’s so rewarding and I definitely adapt and bring different style and approach to my clients, which they love.

What can audiences expect of Duality?
Duality is a fun experiment on how people see the world and express their narrative. A tiny insight into a city’s conscious based off 50 incredible emerging and established Melbourne artists. The show is great as it showcases all elements of what has been explored; words, art, photographs and a beautiful coffee table book available for sale at the show.

Last year’s show had such a great energy as the pairings aren’t revealed until opening night. There is a huge buzz as the writers and visual artists find each other. It’s an interactive show as well, there will be typewriters set up, Leigh Irwin will be DJ-ing and the words and artwork is incredible.

Check out Duality at No Vacancy Gallery Melbourne on 23-24th October