There has always been two sides to my art, that being abstraction and realism. In Art School I happily worked with both and found that I developed a semi-abstract way of looking at things. I felt that my best work was in sculpture, especially using some of Tasmania’s natural timbers such as Huon Pine and Myrtle. I also enjoyed working in metal. But things changed when I commenced my teaching career and when I did finally hit the gallery scene in 1976, it was through painting realistic landscapes, not abstracts.
Since my retirement the urge to paint abstracts has returned. I have conducted art classes on abstraction that realised two exhibitions. One of my two entries for next year’s Glover Prize is an abstract, but like all abstracts that I create, it is derived from the Tasmanian landscape. I like to base my abstracts on something that I ‘know’, rather than ‘make it up as I go’.
Abstract art in Tasmania is not easy to sell. The market here is very conservative. People want to buy art that they understand and easily identify with. So why bother? I am at the stage in my art career where I can create art for myself and not the art market.
I am still enjoying the success of winning art awards from time to time. This year to date, I have won two major awards with artwork that is personal. Whether it’s popular or not doesn’t really concern me. I find that the older I get, the more ‘honest’ my art is. I draw what I want, not what the art market expects.
Lately I have been working on a large abstract drawing (120 x 80 cm), my fifth in a series that features the contents buried in sections of concrete on the wharves of Hobart. I came across a particular section of concrete when visiting Hobart earlier in the year, and was fascinated by what I saw and thought that it would make great subject matter for a series of artworks. Working in coloured pencils featuring subjects in an abstract manner is rarely seen in the commercial art market. This is by no means an easy thing to do, in fact it’s a Herculean challenge. It’s not only a physical and mental challenge because of the size of the work and the medium I am working with, it’s also the fact that no-one may like the work and therefore I won’t be able to sell it. The huge cost of framing such a large drawing is another factor ‘against’ creating this artwork.
Again, I ask the question, ‘why bother?’
Today’s featured drawings are abstracts derived from rock patterns at Launceston’s Cataract Gorge.