I grew up in a large family in the New England area (Armidale and Tamworth) mostly on farms, but have spent a good part of my life in Sydney, and 2 years in London.
At the end of high school in Tamworth I moved to Sydney to attend art school at Alexander Mackie CAE (now UNSW Art and Design) where I spent 4 years completing a Diploma in Art. It was a great experience as it allowed me to devote all my time to pursuing art in a stimulating environment.
Following art school I worked in the animation industry for many years in Sydney and London, whilst continuing with an art practice, and had various studios in Sydney. After years of living in the inner city I opted to move back to Armidale. This was prompted by the desire to be in a more natural setting, closer to nature, and away from the stresses of city life. Living near a good gallery was also a prerequisite and the New England Regional Art Gallery fitted the bill, and more, as it houses the Howard Hinton and Chandler Coventry Collections. I now live on a beautiful bush block on the outskirts of Armidale, where I have been for 18 years, and have a great studio space which looks out on four sides to the landscape.
The Australian bush is so evocative, with its many moods and rhythms, and changing light. I am principally a landscape painter, with some of my work bordering on the sculptural. One can’t help but be inspired by this vast land, which is constantly changing and evolving. I would hope my work reflects something of its geological and biological history, or at least gives some inkling of the existence of those forces that are at work shaping our continent. The multi layering effect in my work is an attempt to capture some of these complexities.
Through patterning and stylisation of natural forms, which often border on the geometric, I aim to create an element of ambiguity. I feel that the power of suggestion is more potent; as it can stimulate an inner reaction in the viewer, compelling them to bring something of their own experience to the work. I aim to re-create the sensation of being in the landscape, being a part of it rather than a separate observer. I feel many people have a strong desire to reconnect to the landscape, perhaps to fulfil some sort of spiritual need. Some of the artists that have influenced me are John Glover, Fred Williams, Ginger Riley, Idris Murphy, William Turner, Joan Miro, Paul Klee, Henri Rousseau and Kasimir Malevich.
I usually work on multiple pieces simultaneously, as it is too easy to lose ones keenness of eye if looking at the one image for too long. Some of my works have semi-relief details, which I build up with layers of felt, pumice, sand and acrylic paint. These works tend to be more monochromatic to give the impression of being carved from stone, while other works are highly coloured and more two dimensional, sometimes with an element of collage. I work on canvas and board, but prefer board as it is easier to scrape back and it allows me to gouge into the various paint layers.
I teach art to various groups and get a lot of satisfaction from that. And of course I visit as many galleries as I can and will travel to a city to see an exhibition of an artist that I especially like, such as the Fred Williams Retrospective ‘Infinite Horizons’ in Canberra in 2011 which was sensational. I find gardening very therapeutic and have planted a lot of trees on my block. However I see the natural bush as my main garden. It needs no attention and I can observe how it changes with the different weather patterns. I have one daughter, Evie, who lives in Wollongong, along with a large supportive family who mostly live at the coast, and who I regularly visit. The lushness of the coastal settings provide a beautiful contrast to the New England.