In the Turner-Carroll household anything goes. Abandoned canines are given a last chance at life,
Nepalese peace flags fly from the verandah and sweet macaroons sit alongside pungent cheese for morning tea.
Then there is Shan – a bubbling bundle of energy encased in the body of a young part-Burmese man with more than a love for the creative arts.
“At this stage I’m quite happy to be doing my own thing,” Shan, 25, of Lovedale, said. “And if people enjoy my work then that’s wonderful but I’m not too much into self-promotion at this stage because I still like the freedom of being able to make mistakes.
“I am still young and you never stop learning. And that’s the exciting part, you are constantly discovering and searching and things like that.”
Late last month the young university student was the beneficiary of the 2012 Jennie Thomas Travelling Art Honours Scholarship and, as such, Shan will use his funds to travel to Burma where he will use photography to explore his past including the lives of his grandparents who survived WWII by trekking out of their country.
“My family, my upbringing, and my Australian and ethnic backgrounds, have all inspired me,” Shan said. “So my work is about family, the individual journey and self-discovery which is what people my age tend to explore. And I chose Burma because that’s where my grandparents are from on my father’s side so I wanted to trace that family history a bit.”
Shan’s parents grew up in Papua New Guinea and the young artist is named after his great great grandmother, a Shan person meaning mountain people.
“A lot of my practice takes on aspects of primitive culture or tribalism so I want to travel to Burma to learn about the culture over there. And I have never been to Burma so it seems like a natural progression for me and, also, I think it is the most beneficial for me at this stage,” he
said. “And when my practice is so personal and about family history it just seemed like the right decision to make.”
In his photographic submission for the scholarship, Shan reflected on stories and pieces from childhood including his sister’s mosquito net that hung over her bed when she was a child, his grandmother’s wheelchair and ash from the home fire.
“When my grandparents left Burma they left their house to the church and the house still exists and it’s now run by nuns for orphan girls so I want to go and visit that home and photograph and learn the stories of the girls,” he said.
Shan turned to photography a few years ago after first dabbling in the art of painting.
“I had quite a few concepts and ideas that I just couldn’t get across in painting, I just didn’t have the skill,” he said. “But I’m also interested in film as well and I think that’s possibly a natural progression.
“I think I’m at that age where I am still starting out and learning so I think it’s nice to have the freedom to explore in a few different things. Photography has been a really wonderful medium for me to help me in my life. I feel like I’ve had all these images built up for so long and I’m finally getting them out.”