Burnie Shines Featured Artist 2016
If you’re from the North West Coast, you’d know that feeling you get when you’ve been away for a while and you’re driving home. You hit somewhere around Elizabeth town westward bound and the landscape kind of tugs at you and you know you’ll be home soon. The landscape becomes more and more familiar as you head deeper into home territory. I don’t know if it’s the familiar shapes or the colours that make it feel different, but it does.
I get that same feeling when I look deep into a Patrick Grieve painting; his work tugs at me so strongly that I’m sure I’ll be transported into it. It feels like home. Which is kind of weird, because his paintings are not a direct representation of familiar places, nor are they abstract, they’re somewhere between the two. I don’t know if it’s the familiar shapes or the colours that make them feel different, but they do.
Patrick Grieve is the featured artist for Burnie Shines 2016. Breaking with tradition in this 15th Burnie Shines festival it is not an emerging artist that the spotlight is shining upon, but rather one of the most significant artists to come out of Burnie in the past 20 years.
This exhibition marks 25 years of painting practice for Patrick Grieve and shows the central role the North West Tasmanian landscape has had on his work. Born in 1969, he grew up on a small farm in Ridgley where practical men made and fixed things in their shed, and they worked the land together. Patrick spent his childhood exploring the landscape, wandering the docks with his Dad or making things in his shed.
At 18 Patrick was still undecided about his future when he literally stumbled into art school at UTAS. He just liked the smell marksof the place and, much to his practical Dad’s confusion, Patrick found himself doing a Visual Arts Degree. To this day he credits his Aunty Betty for getting him over the line with his Dad who, soon warmed to the idea as his awards started rolling in. Just to be on the safe side Patrick enrolled in a Diploma of Teaching as well as visual arts. In 1991 he got his first job as a qualified art teacher at Rosebry District High where he met his wife Judy.
Patrick loves teaching and has been teaching art since 1991 apart from a few years when the children were younger. Currently teaching part time at Burnie High School he divides his time between work, family, making stuff with his kids in his shed, exploring the landscape and evenings painting in his studio (a converted stable).
I asked Patrick what he liked most about the North West Coast and he spoke animatedly about the colours “It’s the colours and the patterns of the landscape. I’ve never been afraid of colour. Blue, green and red. Water, sky, grass and soil. That strip from Flowerdale to Sassafras is always changing and constantly surprising me. One day there’ll be beautiful blue-green paddocks of leeks next to vivid green strips of baby carrots set on chocolate red soils. The next time I drive past it’s changed again. I’m very interested in observing changing patterns in the landscape, and then I take them back to my studio where I turn them into works I find pleasure in.”
Patrick thrives in the lovely sense of isolation he finds the NW Coast, where he is free to paint and live the life he chooses. He balances the solitude of painting with the energy and inspiration he gives and receives from his interactions with budding young artists in his classes. From a career perspective there are disadvantages for a professional artist not being located in a major city, because it’s that bit further to go if you want to rub shoulders with organizations that can advance your career prospects. Freight is also an issue, but with good professional partners like the Bett Gallery in Hobart, Patrick is able to find his place in the Australian art scene. “If I lived in a city I think my work would look very different.”
“I’ve always lived amongst farmland and my paintings are worked and labored over just as the soil and crops have been worked and planted. They are scraped back or layered, constantly evolving and never really complete. I’ve spent 25 years observing and painting this landscape and my work has evolved over time but the source of inspiration still fascinates me”.
“I am a simple person. I grew up with farmers who produced spuds all day and they had a very uncomplicated view of the world. Sometimes life can be very complex and we strive to make it simpler. I don’t think most people in our cities really understand how dependent they are on Australia’s regional communities for the simple life sustaining food and natural resources we provide. No matter how smart and sophisticated we get as a nation, we can’t get away from the fact that we only have one planet and we are all reliant on safe food and clean water and fresh air to survive. But I think we do understand that in Tasmania.”
“So for the foreseeable future I’ll continue to explore and paint the Tasmanian landscape, enjoy the calm of living and working on the NW Coast of Tasmania in the vain hope that my paintings will outlive me and still be enjoyed for generations.”
This is Patrick Grieve’s 19th solo exhibition. He has exhibited in over 40 selected group shows and his work is represented in over a dozen significant art collections including Parliament House, Canberra, The Macquarie Group, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Art Bank and the Burnie Regional Art Gallery.
He has been a finalist in one of Australia’s most significant awards for landscape painting; The Glover Prize, which is open to artists from around the world and has a prize of $40,000 for the best contemporary landscape painting of Tasmania. Each year eminent judges select 40 finalists for their annual exhibition and Patrick Grieve has been a finalist seven times. He has a string of other accolades but finds his real motivation in Tasmania’s amazing and ever changing landscape.