Your artistic career has led you through stages of figurative painting, abstract works, and now found object art. Are their certain benchmark moments which led respective changes in focus?
Yes, there have been certain moments and having the privilege of hindsight they are easier to recognize.
I started out as a figurative painter because I felt attracted to that form of expression as I had a narrative story to tell in those days. There was a ‘spiritual’ message I wanted to convey and, personally, I found it best articulated through abstract and semi-abstract forms of expression. I only discovered this at a later time when I had immersed myself in abstraction.
In truth, during my early years as a painter, I had no real notion of what abstraction really was and only really gained proper insight into the world of abstraction the more I worked with the materials (ie. paint and canvas) and the physicality of painting itself. It became apparent in the work that the abstract language of form became more important than the specifics of place or the rendering of the body.
The change from figurative work to something more abstract resulted in a shedding of identity. It became literally an open field that I could explore. Instead of being confined by structured figurative elements, I was able to begin anew to work the canvas and paper, sometimes with paint stripper.
I was assisted in discarding certain identities by other things taking place in my life, including a serious fire in my Melbourne studio in 1983.
The fire totally destroyed my studio and seven years of work including paintings, drawings and prints. It was a devastating time for me, causing me to turn my attention inwards to a large extent. It was significant enough to cause me to take a sabbatical from art; the fire acting as a catalyst to reassess my life’s priorities.
After completion of a teachers training degree at the Melbourne College of Advanced Education and some extensive travel in the United States, I felt better prepared to return to my career as a professional practicing artist.
This ‘accident’ which had impacted both my personal and professional life had enabled me to mature overall as a person. Artistically, I became able to face truths about my work, changes that needed to be made, and now knew how to go about changing them.
The culmination of this maturing and the aforementioned revelation experience I had while looking for driftwood on a shoreline in Victoria directed me to the medium that I am currently using – found objects.