Student Q&A: Sophia Gawan-Taylor

By Ian Coyukiat (student)

Sophia Gawan-Taylor shares some of her most interesting childhood memories and tells of her love of science, art and houseplants.

Sophia Gawan-Taylor

Where did you grow up?

I was born in a very small rural rubber-tapping kamping (village) in Pagoh, Johor, Malaysia. After a few years there and after learning my first language Bahasa Melayu, I moved every few years to a new city.

From Pagoh I moved to Kuala Lumpur; then to Adelaide, Australia; then to Singapore, then shortly to France, back to Singapore, then Batam, Indonesia. After that it was Perth, Australia; then Cebu, Philippines and now finally Melbourne! I am ethnically half South-East Asian and half Australian.

What hobbies do you enjoy?

I love art and making art – oil, watercolour, acrylic, marker, pencil, sometimes sculpture. I loveeeeeeeee tropical houseplants. I love reproductive health. And I love my friends.

What are some things you enjoy doing?

Making people happy. Caring for my plants and helping other people care for theirs. Making art that people enjoy and connect with.

Any memorable stories from your childhood?

  • Border Force thought I was a victim of human trafficking once.
  • I was accidentally urinated on on a public plane by a grown man.
  • I almost got dragged to court at 13 years old.
  • My pet cat got eaten by a python in Adelaide.

How do you balance both your art and science? Do you find there is a connection between the two?

There’s definitely a connection between the two! For me, my overarching concept for my art practice surrounds the experiences of Gen Z, which involves postmodernism and contemporary issues. But I also enjoy drawing silly things like frogs and listening to a jukebox. Most of my subjects involve anatomical aspects to a degree – like my recent biomechanical heart painting, or human subjects with their skeletons exposed. So it’s handy and interesting to learn about anatomy and physiology in my uni subjects.

Also, learning about human science and the frontiers of science helps on the conceptual side. That being said, I try not to take myself too seriously in art as it’s more fun that way. But art and science are more interconnected than a lot of people think.

What inspires you to create art, and do you have a creative process?

My experiences and weird vivid dreams inspire me to create art. I would say my creative process is pretty simple. I just think of an idea and composition in my head and then sketch it out. If I’m doing a painting I usually sketch a basic design, and design it in Photoshop to use as reference and to get correct composition for the canvas size and shape. Nothing exciting or fancy hee hee.

Have you had to choose between pursuing one or the other?

I think I always knew that I would study human science at a tertiary level, but I will always continue to practice art, and hopefully I can find a career that will allow me to do both. I want to carve out my life in such a way that I won’t have to choose.

Can you list some of your art awards and achievements?

  • Mutualism Melbourne Art Exhibition 2020
  • Herschell Art Prize 2020
  • Sketchbook Project Showcase 2018–19
  • Passports Showcase 2018
  • Crabb Art Prize 2018
  • Nedlands Emerge Showcase 2018
  • Hyperfest – Hypervision Finalist 2017 & 2018 (fine art photography, traditional media, mixed media)
  • A Maze of Story Art Charity Auction 2017
  • YOUTH Artists Exhibition Showcase 2016
  • Over 50+ artworks commissioned and sold

What’s your favourite thing about living at Trinity?

Trinity allows for people to exist outside of common tropes and to explore a wide range of hobbies, as well as to perform, showcase, and share our talents and ideas. I really treasure that. I think that’s why I will always treasure my time at Trinity.

26 Oct 2020