Like many Australians I live on the easterncoastal edge of the continent. My home in Cairns, bordered by the Great Barrier Reef, is notorious for summer heat rain and tropic greens. In contrast the winter months are dry and balmy with the sea invariably flat and silky.
FNQ beaches are sprinkled with people not the body crush of Noosa or Bondi, yet the natural instinct is to cluster, small bunches group together on the sand and in the water.
The Beach holds human narratives full of ‘Australianness’ and Palm Cove north of Cairns provides the ideal observatory with its long expanse of sand, fishing jetty and Islands lying in close proximity.
These figurative stories are momentary: dogs with balls, joggers, kayaks, tourists with sunburn, tinnies and tinnies, hats and conversations, colour and costumes, sunbathing and water-wallowing, sun worshiping.
Sketchy sketches and often blurry photos provide the studio starting point. Likeness is relinquished; significant is the code of beach deportment and behaviour, and the balancing act of nudging between reality and ambiguity.
Beach Diary is my first journal of visual stories about people and places, mannerisms and faces.
Palm Cove #2 121 x 167 cm mixed media on canvas
The blue bikini 91 x 111 cm oil on canvas
Dogs and beaches #3 83 x 61 cm oil on canvas
Bodies and beaches 83 x 61 cm oil on canvas
Sunbathers #1 83 x 61 cm oil on canvas Private collection Adelaide
The conversation #2 83 x 61 cm oil on canvas
The conversation 83 x 61 cm oil on canvas
Water talk 45 x 61 cm oil on canvas Private collection Byron Bay
Palm Cove #1 167 x 121 cm mixed media on canvas Private Collection Cairns
Girl in green shorts 91 x 111 cm mixed media on canvas Private collection Melbourne
LIFE CLASS maps the sequence of easels and artists, models and poses in my weekly class and life drawing group. This is an ongoing dedication to the observation of the figure – frustration balanced with moments of ah-hah when inspiration strikes.
Blue Sarong 106 x 101cm mixed media on canvas
Drawing for blue sarong 103 x 103cm charcoal and gesso on paper
Life Class #3 83 x 83cm mixed media on canvas
Life Class #2 83 x 83cm mixed media on canvas
Life Class #1 83 x 83cm mixed media on canvas
Focus 85 x 120cm charcoal and gesso on paper
Focus #3 83 x 106cm mixed media on canvas
Focus #2 83x101cm mixed media on canvas
Focus #1 91x101cm mixed media on canvas
Tutu 132 x 202cm charcoal and gesso on 4 sheets of paper
Life class 137 x 137cm mixed media on canvas
Pastel limbs 66 x 66cm mixed media on canvas
Pink limbs #2 25 x 25cm mixed media on canvas
Blue stripes 30 x 41cm mixed media on canvas
Originally these small paintings were part of two large artworks Life class and Cafe conversations. The two large paintings were fragmented, busy and unfocused but once cut up became intimate and delightful excerpts.
This sequence of works Quiet Time are individual moments of contentment, either behind an easel or sitting idly in a cafe.
Quiet time 60 x 50 cm mixed media on canvas Private Collection Sydney
The meeting place 50 x 40 cm mixed media on canvas
Girl with white Hanky 45.5 x 38 cm mixed media on canvas
The Lovers 40 x 35 cm mixed media on canvas
Flight of arms 50 x 56 cm mixed media on canvas
Pastel Limbs 66 x 66 cm mixed media on canvas
The wait 45 x 35 cm mixed media on canvas
Quiet time #2 50 x 66 cm mixed media on canvas
THE CARD GAME
2015-2016 marked an interim transition from exterior and landscape to interior and figurative. This was the year for the study of portraits and figures from life, a return to oils backed up with an intense revision of traditional functions.
In 2017-2018 feeling invigorated with renewed skills I returned to a long established love of mark making, mapping and drawing within the painting. The associated stories are personal and not without humour. They combine a new vibrant palette, a revised painting technique and the introduction of markers and biro drawing. The stories are real; the characters are familiar, sometimes from quick sketches and dodgy photographs or pulled from my life drawing drawer and reinvented.
The card game 144 x 168cm charcoal and gesso on paper
The card game #1 137 x 168cm mixed media on canvas
Cairns Art Gallery biannual curated show 2017 ARTNOW
The card game #2 137 x 168cm mixed media on canvas
Private collection Cairns
Iconoclasts: Group Exhibition
Artists: Nic Plowman, Adam Cusack, Daniel Butterworth, Louisa Ennis-Thomas, Julie Poulsen, Joel Rea
Venues: Umbrella Studios Townsville and KickArts Contemporary Arts Cairns.
An exhibition of work which explores ideas, motifs and images from key Australian figurative artists.
Inimitable, timeless and fearlessly restrained Fairweather sits alone amongst his peers.
His was a compulsive rumination in a life time search for the unique aesthetic sequence. As summed up by Fairweather in 1963:
Painting to me is something of a tightrope act; it is between representation and the other thing – whatever that is. It is difficult to keep one’s balance.
To place Fairweather in the Australian art scene I reflected on his sensibilities and themes rather than re-interpreting individual works. I appraised his diversity of constructs, values and beliefs that form part of our Australianness; most profoundly larrikinism and humility people and places. His are ever so human stories, figurative stories that define Australian-ness.
It is his reflection on people and places in a search for ‘balance’ between the visceral and the real that captivates more insightful consideration and motivates further teasing out of my own personal images.
Alex #3 61 x 43cm gouache on paper DETAIL
Sun Worship 150 x 100cm mixed media on canvas
Collection Kim and David Marsden
Rockpool with Elvis 152 x 122cm mixed media on canvas
Rockpool 152 x 122cm mixed media on canvas
The creek 106 x 91cm mixed media on canvas
Alex #3 61 x 43cm gouache on paper
Alex #1 42 x 29cm gouache on paper Private collection Townsville
Alex #2 61 x 43cm gouache on paper
Rockpool #2 42 x 29cm gouache on paper
Rockpool #3 61 x 43cm gouache on paper
WORKS ON PAPER
STEVIE #1 59 x 42cm gouache on paper
STEVIE #2 59 x 42 cm gouache on paper
LOU #1 59 x 42cm acrylic on paper
LOU #2 55 x 60cm acrylic on paper
LOU #3 65 x 50cm acrylic on paper
TESS #2 59 x 42cm acrylic on paper
TESS #1 59 x 42cm acrylic on paper
ANDREAS #2 76 x 51cm acrylic on paper
ANDREAS #1 76 x 51cm acrylic on paper
SUSIE #1 76 x 51cm acrylic on paper
SUSIE #2 51 x 76cm acrylic on paper
ARI #1 51 x 59cm gouache on paper Private collection Sydney