UniSA is the bees-knees when it comes to tertiary education. The institution is all about being in the moment – recognising the often chaotic/overwhelming world in which we live and giving y’all the skills needed to whip it into shape. If you’re a youngling sussing out your next move, check out the great range of industry ready courses UniSA offers right here. They also have a heap of pathway options for non-school leavers if you, like most of us, didn’t unreasonably figure out your life’s direction at 15.
Everyone, meet Steven Cybulka.
The 33 year-old had a bit of a rough run not too long ago (we’ve all been there, mate). But, like a shredded phoenix from the ashes, he’s picked himself up off the ground and is officially killing it.
Steve’s about to finish his Honours studies in sculpture and installations at UniSA. Considering he’s shown his bang-up work a couple of times over the past few years, we’re expecting huge things from this legend.
We’re hoping you guys can take away a bit of advice from old mate, but before you do, we strongly recommended getting around the man on his various ~social channels~ (so you can, you know, keep up to date with his art/stare at his face for hours and plan your imaginary future together).
PEZ: What career path did you follow when you left school and was following this path a pre-planned decision?
STEVE: Not knowing what I really wanted to do, I undertook a pre-vocational carpentry course at TAFE. From that I got some work experience with a builder who specialised in second story extensions. He ended up taking me on full time, so I completed my four year apprenticeship and ended up working there for a little over ten years.
It definitely wasn’t a pre-planned decision or path, but the skills I learnt through that experience have been invaluable both personally and professionally as I’ve shifted towards a different career.
PEZ: What were the issues that lead you to changing careers?
STEVE: I started to have back problems, and they continued to get worse and worse.
After about a two month stint of shuffling around or just being flat on my back, a neurosurgeon diagnosed me with having three torn and degenerated discs in my lower back. She suggested, fairly firmly, that I need to change what I did for work because the constant manual labour was only going to make it worse.
My boss at the time was retiring and offered me the opportunity to take over the business, which may have meant less time on the tools, but would have also meant I would basically be locking myself into working in the building industry, and I wasn’t sure I wanted that.
At the same time I broke up with a long term partner I was living with which was terrible, and trying to renovate/put a second storey on the house.
I decided to go overseas for a few months (Morocco, Israel, Egypt then back to Morocco). When I got back I enrolled in art school (Bachelor of Visual Arts and Applied Design at Adelaide College of the Arts).
PEZ: Why and how did you take up sculpture?
STEVE: For as long as I remember I had always been drawing or painting. Even while working as a builder, I was involved in a couple small exhibitions so I thought I would go to art school and do that. During the first year of the course you take a class in all the different mediums: photography, printmaking, ceramics, etc. When it came to sculpture the first couple lessons were basically “This is how you use a drill, this is a saw, etc” so I felt that I basically had that stuff already covered, and if I could probably get a good mark if I chose sculpture as one of my majors.
But then I fell in love with it.
I was able to translate all the building skills into my creative process, and I had a great lecturer who pushed me, so my main focus became sculpture and installation works.
PEZ: What prompted the decision to take on further study at UniSA?
STEVE: After completing my Bachelor Degree, I identified certain weaknesses in my art practice. I was confident in the more practical aspects but needed to improve the way I wrote about, and articulated, my ideas and processes.
I made the move to UniSA in order to expand the conceptual and academic side of my art practice, undertaking an Honours degree, focusing on sculpture and installation. The facilities, accessibility and professionalism within the teaching staff were what drew me to select UniSA to continue my study.
PEZ: How has UniSA helped further your career?
STEVE: My Honours degree has been challenging, but has helped me develop a better understanding of my own practice – both creatively and professionally.
Upon undertaking study at UniSA, I immediately tapped into a new network of people within the creative arts community – from students like myself, through to professional artists, academics and galleries. You’re constantly being presented with information about what is happening within the arts scene and any opportunities that are available.
PEZ: Can you walk us through some of your past and present projects?
STEVE: In 2014 I was appointed as the inaugural SALA Festival Artist in Residence at Adelaide Festival Centre. This was a six months residency that culminated in the exhibition Changing Spaces, which featured sculptural installation works that respond to the architecture and logo of Adelaide Festival Centre. The work is now on permanent display within the Dustan Playhouse.
My solo exhibition at FELT Space Gallery in April 2015 titled Like I’m Apart is closely linked to my honours research at uni, and some of the pieces will be included within my final assessment.
The recently opened Transition… 109. at Ergo Apartments in Adelaide’s CBD is my first major public work.
Also, the residency with Artist Corbett Moran in Indonesia was a personal highlight.
PEZ: What advice would you give to someone confused about the career direction they should take?
PEZ: What does the future hold for Steve Cybulka?
STEVE: I’m currently competing my Honours exegesis and body of work for the UniSA Graduation Exhibition. I have an installation at the Majestic Minima Hotel in North Adelaide coming up as well. Aside from that, I’ve been applying for residencies and exhibition opportunities nationally and internationally, so hopefully I will spend a reasonable amount of 2016 travelling. But at this stage I’m just continuing to work as hard as I can and and keep developing. Hopefully this results in making better work.
There’s been a fair few people along the way who have told me I’m crazy for trying to do this. So I’ll probably keep on trying to embrace the madness, and see what happens.
The University of South Australia helped guide Steve, both in terms of his art and future, into who he is now. If you’re weighing up your options, having a bit of a rough run or thinking about changing direction, look into the fantastic options UniSA offer. They’ll have you geared up for glory in a jiffy.
All images via Adelaide City Council.