Mar 21, 2011 12:00AM

Welcome Stranger

Finally an exhibition we can all relate to: t-shirts (and some other stuff).

Everything gains a certain gravitas when printed on a t-shirt. From the perennial hilarity of the classic 'I'm With Stupid' to the eerie foreboding of the 'Kevin '07' shirts that now lie abandoned at the bottom of so many lefty laundry hampers, what can't be said on a t-shirt pretty much isn't worth saying. The folk behind art project Welcome Stranger (a reference, of course, to the largest gold nugget in the world) are well aware of this fact. Looking to explore ideas and themes through very tangible mediums, the collective are currently focusing on a catalogue of limited edition t-shirts, but also lend their artsy hands to zines, photography and art installations.

All of these will be on show at project WS010, the project's latest exhibition on 25 March. Touted as both a retrospective and remix of past works, WS010 will show and shake-up new and old works that look at history, aesthetics and people. The exhibition is held at the fantastic Lo-Fi Collective, which is both a studio and a gallery for Australia's best "low brow" creatives. With exhibitions on each week, resident artists like Welcome Stranger are given space at Lo-Fi to produce and exhibit sans rent. Providing a fitting sonic backdrop to the evening will be Siberia Records.

We caught up with Welcome Stranger about their philosophy and what's next.

Oyster: How would you describe Welcome Stranger to someone who is completely unfamiliar with it?
Welcome Stranger: WS is a proposition. It's a catalogue of ideas and objects by various artists published by WS.

Welcome Stranger explores ideas through very varied output - zines, t-shirts etc. Why did you choose these particular forms?
We like the idea of being a fan of something. As with the ideas we handle, we become 'fans' of the subject we happen to be concerning ourselves with. Zines and t-shirts are both a personal and public way of expressing those obsessions. In the show we will be working with images, objects and performance.

Are there any links between the ideas and themes in WS's work? Does WS have a signature?
Apart from the name, not particularly. Anything goes.

Do you have a favourite Welcome Stranger work to date?
We consider all ideas like children, and like all good parents can't pick favourites.

Are there any themes that you really want Welcome Stranger to explore in the future?
WS will be an ongoing output. This is just the beginning.

Welcome Stranger is named after a gold nugget. What are your favourite 'things-named-after-things'?
Siberia - Siberia Records
Cyclone - Cyclone (ice cream)
Kraftwerk (powerstation in German) - Kraftwerk
Maree, Australia - Maree Man
Mary - Bloody Mary

Words: Lillian McKnight