Best Buddies: Ralph Brown and Richard Orjis

By Dan Ahwa
Artists and friends, Ralph Brown and Richard Orjis. Picture / Babiche Martens


How did you two become friends?
Ralph Brown: Richard asked if I would collaborate on a video project when we met a few years back. He assumed I knew what I was doing, and I've managed to fake it ever since.
Richard Orjis: We were both working at the same art school and had a common interest in photography. From there we just started hanging out and working on creative projects together.

What are some of your most memorable moments together?
RB: An intended photography road trip that morphed into a series of motel TV marathons. The right company will heighten any experience, and Million Dollar Listing now holds a special place in my heart.

RO: Ralph is referred to as 'The Rev’ by the Faf Swag crew because of his ongoing involvement and support of the creative powerhouse that they are. I’d have to say attending some of the Faf Balls with him have been spellbinding and memorable. Also working together on the Jahra Rager video with Gui Taccetti, and the Miss Crabb projects have been rewarding collaborations.

What about each other do you admire the most?
RB: Richard invariably maintains a positive and engaging presence. He's my aspirational benchmark in how to treat others, as well as oneself.

RO: I admire the way he carries himself, I feel that he’ll leave the world better off for existing. He’s constantly open to people and ideas and he’s not one for casting shade.

Where's your favourite place to hang out or catch up?
RB: Cafes, eateries, etc. We're both on the same page when it comes to appetite, and we're often thinking about travel – going out is a substitute.

RO: The Golden Dawn – Tavern of Power.

Describe each other in three words.
RB: Perceptive, charming, uplifting.

RO: Kind, talented and enthusiastic.

How important is creating and being creative to you?
RB: Professionally, creating is a risk-taking exercise that requires a fair bit of self-belief and can turn vulnerability into strength. The learning curve is steep, challenging and rewarding. In other environments, creativity facilitates all kinds of valuable processes.

RO: As an artist, being creative is a fundamental part of my life. I don’t think I would be very satisfied if I wasn’t creating something. The creative process is a roller-coaster: lots high and lows spent thinking and making. I don’t believe in divine inspiration, so the more time I spend working on it the more rewarding it is. I see creativity as a sort of sieve. All the things I see and experience get absorbed and when it comes to thinking up an idea, it’s all those things combined, reordered and presented. So, it’s important for me to be exposed to as much as possible which seems like a good recipe for an interesting life.

How do you unwind or de-stress?
RB: I often deal with a lot of people during work hours, and I've learned the value of claiming solitude wherever I can get away with it. It's an opportunity to find focus and prep for challenges. Failing that, a poor day can be salvaged with some favourite Peep Show episodes.

RO: For me, it’s hanging out with the boyfriend having dinner, and catching up on a television show on the couch.

What advice do you have for men when it comes to taking care of themselves when it comes to their mental wellbeing and who might find it hard to ask for help?
RB: To repeat the adage: we're like machines; we need maintenance. Respect and look after yourself, and those around you will benefit. Also know that there are always people who understand your struggle – don't to be afraid to look for them.

RO: I like the Headspace app for some smartphone Zen downtime, and recommend finding a good therapist for the emotional troughs.

Why is your friendship between each other important to you personally?
RB: Richard's a colleague, friend and big bro. He lifts my game, he serves validation, and he's hilarious.

RO: My friendship with Ralph reminds me that friends are people that you actively choose to spend your time with. I always leave hanging out with Ralph feeling inspired for the next project or better about a problem, and am reminded that there are cool, open-minded and nice people in the world.

Richard, tell me about your new exhibition coming up and the concept behind it.
RO: I have an exhibition at Melanie Roger Gallery from September 13 to October 7. It will be a collection of sculptures, photographs and textiles exploring the idea of connectivity. I've just been chewing over how identity politics sit within the idea that everyone and everything is intrinsically intertwined. Fragmenting everything into easy-to-understand classifications seems to clarify the world, but may be problematic when it comes to working together across perceived divides.

• See Richard's new exhibition Salt Felix, a collection of sculptures, photographs and textiles exploring the idea of connectivity, from Sep 13-Oct 7 at Melanie Roger Gallery. Visit

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