From living a quiet life as a monk for seven years, adhering to the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, to a high-powered career as a mortgage broker and property developer, Ken Sealey has now turned full circle back to full-time art.
At 52, Sealey is considered an exciting emerging artist, one to watch with a very different visual language.
A winner of last year's Castaways Sculpture Awards, included in Sculpture by the Sea Cottesloe this year and now represented in the Holmes a Court and Bunbury Regional Art Galleries collections, his first solo exhibition seems more than a little overdue.
"Life got in the way," says Sealey, who first studied at Claremont School of Art back in 1975, and more recently completed additional study at Central TAFE.
In between poverty and comfort, stalling his transition into full-time art were stints as a taxi driver, delving into 3-D animation and special effects, but never losing sight of a strong desire to create art. He wrote plays and became involved in set design, and in the late 1980s created fashion videos for designers such as Sunseeker and Ruth Tarvydas.
Several years later his computer animation was shown at the International Video Festival in Miami. The successful outcome of his last incarnation in property development has allowed him to devote himself more fully to art, while keeping a careful eye on financial spreadsheets and a growing young family.
"I felt I couldn't leave it much longer," he says, although his wife was nervous about the transition. "It's something I had to do."
Sealey's exhibition explores human selection as opposed to natural selection in the unusual sculptural medium of Alucobond, a lightweight aluminium composite cladding used in the construction of high-rise buildings. Think of any silver high-rise building in Perth, such as the BankWest Tower and Central Park, and more often than not it will be clad in Alucobond, virtually two thin layers of aluminium sandwiched over a low density black polyethylene layer.
Sealey first came across this light, but strong material in the early 1990s on advice from artist Brian McKay and sought it out at trade shows and auctions. In this unlikely medium Sealey cuts, etches, distresses and layers sheets with amazing accuracy.
He creates his ideas on computer, a tool he likens to a virtual extension of his arm, and then cuts the sheets using a computer design file which guides a router. The end result is a perfect foil to investigate the notion of human selection.
"Generally the planet has been controlled by natural selection," Sealey says. "There is a general opinion people are making the decisions now, or the selecting. It concerns me what the end result will be of separating ourselves from the natural order of things."
Works such as The Priest pare down the human form to a boxed architectural efficiency, the fluidity of limbs no longer required in a perceived future world. The Last Human at the very end of the exhibition is a work of resignation, of discovering we were wrong all along. A selection of wooden totem forms,
in contrast, represent the unknown organic possibilities, a bug perhaps, which could
wipe out the entire population of the world.
"It's really about whether we have separated ourselves from nature or not. Whether everything we do is because nature made us this way, or not."
Beyond this exhibition, Sealey continues to develop his work through submissions to public art projects such as the Melville Aquatic Centre, a result of his inclusion in Sculpture by the Sea, and private commissions.
"Because I've been in property development, dealing with planning and local government I can visualise the big picture. It's something I really enjoy."
Human Selection is at Elements Art Gallery, Dalkeith, until August 1.