I was born into a Sydney family of stained glass artists going back 4 generations. The family home is attached to a large factory workshop where they produced huge windows for churches and public buildings around Australia. It was like living in the restoration and storage area of a museum - stuffed to the brim with antiques, tribal and aboriginal artifacts, huge drawings of window designs, my father's paintings in progress, vintage cars being restored, new pieces of furniture being constructed from damaged antiques, rare and interesting glass objects and artworks, old books, inventions and antique restorations in progress.
The workshop has been used for stained glass production since the late 18oo's and still has many of the old machines from that time such as a large grinding wheel 1m across, a kiln / oven with drawers to bake the painted images (eg. Jesus) onto the glass, a stone cauldron to melt lead to pour into leadlight casing moulds. There are large windows where the finished stained glass panels are displayed so that light streams through in vivid colours. The main influence of my art has been this intencity of coloured glass, the clear strong lines of the lead casing, and the baked on drawings in black.
When the family went on holidays we stayed at dairy farms and bush properties owned by relatives. In Sydney we lived near the airport, so farm life, in the company of plants and animals was a world away. Since leaving home I have lived mostly in small river-front communities that are surrounded by virgin bush, where the day to day sounds are of passing boats and the antics of birds rather than traffic noise - even right in the middle of Sydney. Consequently, I have become a landscape painter with an addiction to painting water. Having imediate access to such raw natural environments means I've had the time to wander slowly and study the intricate details of textures, light, colour, flora and fauna.
Waterfront living is soft of my senses and I've been lucky to live in some delightful river and beachfront homes. On Syney's Georges river, I lived in a boatshed / cottage, built on stilts in the water. The sound of wavelets under the floorboards was soothing. The loungeroom had double garage doors that opened onto a pier which went out 50 metres into the river. On workdays, men in suits and ties, whistling and singing, would row across to the opposite shore to catch a bus into the city. One of the benefits of living there is being able to have a fishing line out from the loungroom while cooking dinner or watching TV.
I also lived on the edge of the Cronulla sandhills in a communty of 17 fishing shacks called Boat Harbour. The shacks were built on the sand around a small semi-protected bay with the open ocean beyond. It is off-the -grid living. There is no electricity or drinking water, although there are landline phones. The villagers use various power sources - wind and petrol generators, solar panels, batteries and gas bottles. To get home, I had to 4-wheel drive through the sandhills, but once there it was surprisingly civilised and comfortable. The shacks have flush toilets which flush into a 44 gallon drum, showers or bath tubs with gas hot water and TV, although I often lost the end of movies due to the generator running out of fuel. The upside of living there was the outdoors lifestyle and the dramatic changes in the envionment due to the weather. The site is exposed to harsh southerly winds that batter and rock the shacks, sending sand whirling in through cracks. Then there are perfectly still nights where the bright silver moon follows you on long walks on the beach. Whales can suddenly pop up 30m offshore, but so too, the occasional drowned dead body washes up from boating accidents. The downside was the amount of home brew and 4-wheel drivers hooning about.
I lived for 18 years in Maianbar and Bundeena, in the middle of the Royal National Park between Sydney and Wollongong and it's had an enduring influence on my art. At my front door - tidal sand flats, an island, bush, beach and the Port Hacking River. At the back door - rainforest and a pristine estuary, mangroves and beaches.
The artists who have influenced me are Miro, Juniper, Picasso and Kitaj. Miro is one of my favorites, in particular his comments about how he chose his subjects - he waited for something to surprise or delight him. I like the uninhibited clean honesty, joyfulness and innocense in his art.
Zen philosophy and meditation have been dominant factors in my art. I use the Zen philosophy of 'no mind' honesty of action. I embrace accidents, I dont concern myself with the finished result, I trust and enjoy the journey. I dont do the painting - the painting does me. Meditation is a lifelong resource for me, and it's influence in my art is clear as my paintings have a calming effect on the viewer. At first glance they appear quite busy, but then the interlocking rhythms entice the viewer to travel through the scene, picking out details, which is a process that slows down and stills the mind.
The practice I use in my paintings is to visit a scenic location, such as a kilometer long stretch of river frontage, where I take up to 80 reference photos and drawings. The painting then evolves as a 'collage' of sense memories and the reference images, so that it describes the experience of being in that place rather than a literal portrayal.
I stopped painting for a period of 7 years due to illness. It was an intense, tough but rewarding experience. I dropped eveything in my life that didn't involve recovery. When my body fell apart, there was only my mind to work with, so I concentrated on meditation as my 'work' for 7 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week, for 5 years. During that time my life shrunk to the barest minimum as I no longer had the energy left for friends, a social life, old ideas and beliefs or my art. My 'identity' as an artist fell away and was replaced with being neutral and anonymous. It was a loss to begin with but then became an enjoyable freedom. Without all the worldly clutter of thought, my mind became clean, spacious and peaceful. Eventually I began painting again and it was a joyful experience.
I have been lucky to have the opportunity to travel through Europe, US, Mexico and numerous trips to asia, especially Japan and India. My travels have set my creativity on fire.
1971 - 1974 St George Technical College Art School - Life drawing from the age of 14.
1972 St George Selective Girls High School - School Certificate.
1974 - 1975 Gymea Technical College and St George Tech. Art Scools - Diploma of Fine Art.
1977 - 1980 Aprenticeship in glass engraving with Anna Dybka in the Argyle Arts Centre, The Rocks.
1986 University of NSW - Bachelor of Fine Arts.
2002 Business Education Centre Newcastle - Small Business Management, cert. 4.
Regional Gallery Solo Exhibitions
1993 Wollongong City Regional Gallery. ( total sellout show)
'You Cant Hide in a Small Town'. A series of 10 paintings about a small town with a population of 400, where there were
14 marriage breakups within an 18 month period.
2013 Manning Regional Gallery.
2014 Cessnock Regional gallery
Regional Gallery Group Exhibitions
1983 Ivan dougherty Gallery, Paddington, Sydney.
B.A. of Fine Arts Graduating Students Exhibition (by invitation)
1989 City of Lake Macquarie Gallery.
Emerging Artists Annual Exhibition, works on paper (by invitation)
1997 Hazelhurst Regional Gallery.
Official opening exhibition (by invitation) to show with Gary shead, George Gittoes, Bob Marchant, Mick Weekes and