|WISH YOU WERE HERE!
TRAVELS WITH A BRUSH
"For me painting has always been a form of meditation; a joyous contemplation of the world." Barry Humphries.
Forward to the Savill Galleries - Barry Humphries catalogue
"I have been painting and drawing all my life. When I was only small my father, who was a good architectural draughtsman, used to draw comic profiles of men and women on sheets of paper, and then I drew the bodies. I soon managed without his assistance. Thereafter most of my punishments at Junior School were the result of being caught sketching scurrilous caricatures of school masters under the desk.
By the time I was 12 or 13 a set of Windsor and Newton Students Oil Paints and I went on painting expeditions around Melbourne with a school friend; but my favourite subjects were the cliffs and coves at Mornington, on Port Philip Bay where our family had a beach house. By then I had fallen under the Post Impressionist Influence, and I secretly desired to become an artist. My only problem was plucking up the necessary courage to tell my parents of this appalling decision. I then belonged to the Argonaut's Club, a hugely popular ABC Children's programme, and I sent all my best paintings off to Sydney to earn myself purple certificates. No doubt these early masterpieces ended up in the furnaces of the Broadcasting Commission, though a few that survived are now in the archives of the Victorian Performing Arts Museum.
In my mid to late teens, I became a junior pupil of George Bell in Melbourne, and every Saturday morning attended a life class at his studio in Malvern. It was exciting, not merely to be a school boy drawing nude ladies, but also to be the student of a man who had taught such famous artists as Constance Stokes and Russell Drysdale. However, the academic modernism of Bell was at odds with my new interest in the Dada movement which had startled Europe in the second decade of the twentieth century.
In his history of Australian art, Robert Hughes mentions that I seemed to understand the 'ferocity' of the original Dadaists, and I thin he was right. I certainly shocked a few people in Melbourne and have gone on shocking people ever since in another branch of creative endeavour. However, whenever I travel on m,y theatrical tours, I paint whenever I can, and occasionally do portraits of friends and colleagues. My best friends in the arts have rarely been actors, and were mostly painters like Arthur Boyd, Charles Blackman and Lawrence Daws. As John Betjeman used to say: 'Art never lets you down'.
For me painting has always been a form of meditation; a joyous contemplation of the world. Over the years I have even exhibited my work, notably at a big retrospective show at the Bonython Galley in Sydney in 1968, in Melbourne in 1989, and at Philip Bacon in Brisbane in 2002.
Once, when taking some of my unsigned landscapes to a new picture framer, I rather coyly asked him what he thought of them. 'Well', he replied thoughtfully, 'whoever painted these certainly had a good time!'
This exhibition was shown in our Melbourne gallery, please also see our News Web Page for newspaper clippings about the exhibition.