‘A few years ago I completely stopped watching TV and stuffing my brain with all this stuff I don’t need to worry about and stuff the media throws at you. After I completely stopped watching TV, reading newspapers and everything, just every day I’ll go home and it will be quiet. I’ll maybe put on a bit of music and I’ll pick up a pencil or some clay and start doing something rather than being brain dead in front of a TV. I’ve found in the last few years I’ve really opened creatively. I made a glass bridge last week with a mirror underneath it so it looks like you’re standing on infinity. It’s crazy. I like playing with stuff and illusions and things sort of optically – brain fuckery! A little bit of brain fuckery never goes astray!’

‘My friend took his own life about 3½ years ago. That was really sad – it was a hard thing to go through. We were really close. We were supposed to actually hang out the day he did it but our plans got cancelled.

‘I was completely shocked. I didn’t think he’d actually ever do it. He talked to me about it. I was trying to help him through it a bit so I felt a bit responsible and a bit guilty but that passes. Things happen and people have talked to me about it so I feel a lot better now but yeah, just completely shocked.’

If you could go back in time, what would you say to him?

‘I would probably go over there and hang out with him that day and tell him how many people cared about him and that we miss him and that it would be different without him there because it’s definitely different.’

What would be your message to other people who may have friends in a similar situation?

‘Make sure you’re there for them and don’t take it lightly. Even if you don’t think they’re serious, just talk to them about it. They’re obviously doing it for a reason. They need someone to be there for them. Either way you have to make sure you’re there.’

‘I’m a visual artist who’s not doing a lot at the moment because the art scene is a bit dead.’

‘I’m a lawyer working in tax law.’

What do you like most about him?

‘His art and he’s got style.’

What’s the nicest thing she’s ever done for you?

‘Looked after me – we’ve been together over 30 years.’

What’s been your biggest challenge as a couple?

‘Oh, we’ve had a few problems over the years. I guess dealing with me – it’s not easy being an artist. It’s a very hard profession. In your twenties, it’s kind of exciting but as you get older and if you haven’t become famous, it gets harder and harder to keep carrying on. Everyone I know has problems. Everyone in their twenties thinks they’re going to be famous and have this fabulous lifestyle but it doesn’t work out that way for 99% of people.’

What would be your message to young artists starting out?

‘Study law!’

‘I work on an international project in the HIV sector.’

If you could communicate one point that would make people more aware about the issues associated with living with HIV, what would that be?

‘In Australia, having HIV is not a crime and it’s a stigma about HIV that’s the biggest issue that we have.’

‘I play the Oud. It’s a Middle Eastern lute. There’s a new album out on ABC called “Permission to Evaporate” which is a recent one I did in New York with two great jazz players. One is Mike Stern who was in Miles Davis’ band and Christian McBride – the biggest double bass player at the moment on the jazz scene in the world actually. So I was very lucky to get the chance to record with them.’

If you could describe the Oud as a human, how would you describe it?

‘It’s pretty much like me – short necked, half pear shaped. It’s perfect. I’m exactly like the instrument!

‘I’m playing next Thursday (26th) at Camelot Lounge Marrickville in a repertoire called Angel. We only play that repertoire twice a year to commemorate my parents’ passing. It’s nice to commemorate them through music. This one is to commemorate my mother’s passing two years ago.

‘She was quite sick towards the end. I think there were quite beautiful moments within the short space of time you spend with them in the end. It doesn’t get easy not having your parents around. I think it really gives you fuel for your music. It helps you as a human being and helps you grow. We’re constantly healing and that’s the beautiful thing about music. I guess you’ve just got to take these things as a lesson and grow from them.’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rhp-IpRPxIs