Tuesday, June 21, 2011

We Chat to Rupert Gray...

installation of Landscape 007

installation of Landscape 002

We asked Rupert Gray, one of the artists exhibiting in Journey Through Landscape, Sea & Sky.  If you missed out on the In Conversation program on Saturday, then check out this interview!

Tell us about yourself. Where are you from?
I grew up in Melbourne. As a boy I loved nature and the outdoors so after leaving school I headed off to work as a jackeroo/overseer in various parts of South East Australia.

Even though I had excelled in art as a school boy I never really thought about art until as a 30 year old I travelled to Russia, Scandinavia and Europe and was blown away by all the wonderful art, particularly French Impressionism.

On my return I began painting again and so began the slow learning curve to the present. Before our children arrived I benefited from being a member of Hawthorn Artists Society but later family and business commitments precluded practising my art. Now at the age of 67, I am painting full time to realize a dream.

How would you describe your work? What materials do you work in?
At present I work mostly in oils occasionally incorporating acrylics,enamels and also collage but I am very open to all media and intend to keep experimenting.

As for my work process paintings can be planned or unplanned. If I have an image which takes my eye often once I start to paint I am swept along and frequently the mood of the painting becomes quite transformed and stylised.

I am comfortable with this and quite happy to allow ideas and images stored in my mind to shape the painting. The best part is to take risks, to experiment and let the painting determine its own direction. Occasionally this leads to a new unexpected direction which can be very rewarding.

What attracted you to work in the medium that you do?
I like oils because they are slow drying and allow the paint to be “pushed around”, colours to be blended on the canvas and textured effects to be achieved and they seem to have a certain integrity but I do like to keep an open mind to incorporating other media.

What achievement are you most proud of to date?
My greatest achievement to date is the progress in developing my style and how I seek to interpret subjects plus a better understanding of the various media. Last year’s winning of the Mansfield Hospital and Rotary Acquisitive Award judged by Jason Smith, Director of Heide Gallery was a noteworthy achievement and very encouraging. Also to be granted this shared exhibition by the Town Hall Gallery—a first for me – is very pleasing.

If you could collaborate with another artist who would it be and why? Who inspires you?
There are so many artists whose work I admire but in recent times the works of Picasso have been a stand out for me. I am inspired by his enormous creativity, diverse styles and striking use of colour. Closer to home, I always appreciate Sydney Nolan’s work, his empathy with the Australian landscape and narrative style. Both these artists inspire me greatly.

What’s your work practice like? Do you work in a studio/home? What gets you in the mood to create?
I paint at home (in our garage!) which suits me in that I can make a mess and still be connected to the family. Often household disturbances- i.e chores! force a break from painting and provide the opportunity to review how the painting is shaping.

I am easily stimulated and it doesn’t take much to get me motivated and inspired. Often a painting set aside can provide the trigger to develop it in a new direction.

Is there a sound track to your creativity. Do you have music or silence?
Not really. Usually during the day I listen to a mix of light and classical music interspersed with current affairs commentary to counter working alone.

What do you think people will take away with them from seeing your work.
Its hard to say because I am creating according to my own vision or “wiring” but I would hope the viewer feels a sense of pleasure, excitement and beauty from my paintings.

Where do you want to be in 10 years time? What’s your dream?
I would not dare to say where I want to be in10 years time or express a “dream”.  I just intend to keep painting with an open mind, exploring all possibilities through experimentation and being receptive to new inspiration.  It is sufficiently exciting and challenging to feel that I still have scope for further developments!

Journey Through Landscape, Sea & Sky is open until Saturday 25 June, so you only have a week to check it out!

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