The Downtime Agenda

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  • Words — Julie Haslam
  • Images — Monique Easton

Dion Horstmans is a highly sought after artist, sculptor and creator based in Bondi Beach. With a disciplined training regime, weekly counsellor meetings, and a commitment to watching about 250 movies a year, this gentle giant knows how to keep stress at bay.

Dion Horstmans, gentle giant.

How do you unwind?
As an artist my days are pretty much solo….me and a grinder, it’s noisy and the dialogue is internal. I unwind at the gym, daily. I train with a couple of mates. We shoot the shit. Then I hang out with Gracie (my wife / partner / girlfriend) and cook dinner. Afterwards we might watch a movie on a laptop or read in bed. Ultimately, I live a block from the ocean, it’s wild and free and endless. When I jump in it’s like being instantly recharged, reset, and ready to go again.

How important is downtime to you and what happens when you don’t get enough of it?
On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say 10 – so pretty important. I can turn into a grouchy, impatient monster without it.

How does stress impact the creative process for you?
Funnily enough I work really well under pressure, nothing like a deadline. I’d take a couple of days a week to explore but the other four days I’m working on upcoming shows and commissions. Throw a couple of EOI’s in there and I’m ‘ON’’.

What strategies do you have in place to manage stress?
Training. I also like to talk through things. Whatever is on my mind, whether it be with the relationships I have with my daughters or my partner, or a project I’m working on. I have a counsellor that I see weekly.

Do you have any daily rituals?
The gym, a swim and I read – which flips between fiction and non-fiction (mostly history).

What are you reading right now?
‘Sapiens’ a brief history of humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. I’m totally engaged, I’d even say excited.

Tell us what’s on your downtime playlist.
I buy vinyl from a store called Northside Records in Melbourne on a weekly basis, so I’m pretty much listening to new music each week. It’s totally eclectic. Right now I’m listening to ‘Black Voices’ by Tony Allen. This time last week I was listening to ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ by Laraaji…really random. I listen to FBI @94.5fm while I’m driving.

What’s your favourite movie of all time?
I’d watch 250 movies a year. To pick one would be like asking me to pick my favourite artist. We don’t own a TV, so I mostly watch on my laptop. Wages of Fear, The Incredibles, Diva, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, The Pink Panther, Night Crawler, Splash, Starship Troopers…

Where is your ultimate travel destination for downtime?
Having just returned from Spain I’d like to say Spain or Portugal or Viz, but I only get to go there once every few years. On a yearly basis, for the ultimate downtime, I travel three hours south of Sydney to a sleepy little fishing village east of Nowra. A big night there is rubbish night, you wheel your bin out and you might see someone, other wise it’s very quiet.

Who is your downtime partner in crime and why?
Gracie is. Why? Cause she rocks, she makes me laugh, she looks after me, she challenges me, she keeps me young, and she keeps me on my toes… I’m totally captivated.