On painting as a new father, discussions about Mother Earth and the rebirth of artworks though his unique process.
My partner Tim Swallow and I were lucky enough to come and visit your studio pre Covid-19 lockdowns. Your studio is such a joy and feels like a warm creative womb, full of sunlight, well-thumbed art books and paint paraphernalia. Do you think the subsequent intense and extended stay at home had shaped your work? How so?
The work often takes on what’s happening in my surroundings. Sometimes this is a conscious effort to start a conversation or record a period of time through painting. Other times themes just creep in subconsciously through an intuitive approach to building composition. Even though I usually spend most of my time in solitude any way, I think eventually the extended stay at home and lack of visitors crept into the work. The general mood and feeling of lonesome expressed to me by others may have shaped the work further than my own experiences.
A lot of your subjects are often portrayed in some form of isolation in your imagery. Do you feel your new family has or will perhaps change this reoccurring theme?
Family and friends occasionally appear in works. I think this will become more frequent, however while I am working alone in the studio or landscape I can’t see this changing dramatically.
Your painting process is quite an involved and repetitious act of creation and destruction through the layering of oil paints and the dissolution of these through a spray solvent. Do you think this constant ‘rebirth’ of your work has a life all its own, or do you know exactly how your piece will be from the inception?
I generally have a very vague idea of where a work will end up. I have an idea or feeling that I want to portray and the layering of paint is built up through a mediative process of varying paint application techniques. A work may take on hours or months of rebirthing before it finds an end point. Usually this is far from any thoughts at the beginning.
In times of both economic and cultural distress, what role do you think art plays in society and why do you think this is so important?
It’s a natural place for society to turn to when in distress. It can be an escape from what’s going on or a way to portray a feeling or view on the world at a particular time. The work needs to be made as a reflection to look back on and I’m certain that powerful work will further emerge from our current crisis.
Being a new father, what lessons from art would you wish to pass down to your son?
Develop a unique perspective. Only make work for yourself. Only accept criticism from those you respect. Anything can be used to make a mark
Tell us about your most cherished art literature and how this relates to your work today.
I’ve been into ‘The Drunken Buddha’ of late. It’s an English translation of a Chinese novel which follows the exploits and misadventures of the 13th century monk Chi-tien. Ian Fairweather translated the novel and the book is illustrated throughout with his paintings. Fairweather’s life and work is a great influence of mine.
The Australian landscape and topography feature heavily in your work. Our unique native backyard allows for a spatial awareness like no other. You can find yourself out there and you can truly lose yourself in the outback. How do feel connected to Mother Earth? Why does it call to you so strongly?
Like many Australians the landscape has shaped who I am. From growing up in a semi-bushland environment to boyhood ocean exploration to adult journeys into the desert a connectedness has formed. The call to return time and time again involves a longing to further understand the landscape and a desire to create an aesthetic response to the glory and mystery of nature.
Your other project, Instagram handle @australian.artists, has grown significantly, reaching 11.6k followers. What was your desire behind starting this and what do you wish to convey with it?
A few years back I was running a small printing operation which involved featuring my clients work on Instagram. When I wrapped up the printing business the Instagram organically became a space for sharing artists work. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough spare time to dedicate to it and it certainly lacks direction. At the moment it is just sporadic posts of artwork people send to me.
Can you please list 5 of your favourite indigenous artists for us to follow?
Emily Kame Kngwarreye
Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri
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