Filthy Luker: The man behind the octopus

Artists Filthy Luker (Luke Egan) and Pedro Estrellas (Peter Hanilton) have been creating bizarre inflatable art since the early 90’s. The puffed-up duo are driven by their love of mischievous public intervention and a megalomaniacal desire to create objects of gargantuan proportion. Oh yeah, and they like sticking eyeballs on things.

Now Surfers Paradise is seeing an aquatic invasion with swarms of enormous inflatable sea creatures engulfing iconic city landmarks as part of the 2017 Sand Safari Arts Festival. Looming large in the artist’s sights this year is 50 Cavill Avenue, where Ethan the octopus is trying to escape.  Meanwhile, a giant squid squad has Surfers Paradise beach in a colourful spin, jubilant jellyfish float carelessly above Cavill Avenue, a school of fabulous fish fly across Cavill Park, and a gigantic spiky urchin slowly emerges from the river.

We fired off a few question to the man behind the octopus, Luke Egan.

Tell us a bit about your Sand Safari installations?

Sand Safari is the perfect gig! Our favourite theme of fantastical illuminated sea creatures mixed with a diverse array of locations to create the installations – from golden beaches, to parks filled with palm trees, towering skyscrapers and even sculptures floating on rivers – and all just a few yards from each other. As artists we’ve been able to have real fun with our new creations and really look forward to seeing them all up together.

What were you like with art as a child? Did you prefer drawing on walls to paper? Did you like sticking eyes on things?

I was always into putting different objects together to create a new thing, such as mixed media assemblages with whatever things that were around me stuck together with tape and glue, or collage or painting on photos and at school my best work was always directly on the wooden desk.  I am also quite a spontaneous person and so sporadic ideas and bursts of energy have led to a lot of art. It wasn’t until I teamed up with Pete Hamilton (aka Pedro Estrellas) that I learnt about design – planning your art before launching into it. However, once you have the sculptures made you can then have fun with them.

Have you ever stopped and looked at a piece that you’ve created and thought “that’s the best one I’ve done?” If so, which one and why?

I think I have been lucky enough to have that feeling a few times – just knowing that you’ve created something fresh and exciting. Eventually the feeling wears off and you have to make a new one!

Is there a building or surface in the world that you dream of installing in / on and haven’t had the opportunity yet?

I would like to put a giant Groucho Marx mask – big nose, moustache and glasses – on the Sphinx. Or maybe paint the heads on Mt. Rushmore to look like Frankenstein monsters.

What do you want audiences to take away from your art? Is the audience reaction a factor in your process or do you create for the sake of creating?

Pete and I really love public art, whether it’s getting a laugh or an ooh and an ahh. We love to surprise people by seemingly random acts of inflation and always have a one-liner ready when we get asked what it’s for. We are creating for the sake of creating but it’s nothing without an audience.

If you were given the moon as a surface, what would you install on it?

I think a big For Sale sign would be quite fitting for the era.

Who or what inspires you?

Sculpture – there’s Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen of course, though they weren’t very site specific which I think is important. Painters – I love the way George Shaw makes the mundane so beautiful in his paintings. Mark Jenkins has got a great interventionist thing going on, and from near me in South West UK, Mudwig who paints really deranged Dr Seuss type objects onto photographs of cities and landscapes.

Sand Safari runs from 10 – 26 February 2017.

IMAGE (c) PBR Images


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