In the lead up to Of Blue - Paint and Sound on Saturday 12 October, collective member Suzie Wyllie sat down with acclaimed artist David Beaumont to have a chat about the making of this work and more.
Suzie: Kandinsky shared your affinity with the colour blue, “The deeper the blue becomes, the more strongly it calls towards the infinite, awakening a desire for the pure and, finally, for the supernatural”.
What made you turn your attention to this quest to find the purest blue?
David: It was a combination of things really, around the time my mother had died, I was trying to capture the beauty of Swan Bay, obsessed by the ceiling of a fresco in Padua by Giotto and finally, a favourite local spot I would stalk at night and just sit, staring at the ocean.
S: You're in fine company: Picasso, Klein, Miró (just to mention a few) are all known for their blue periods. Why do you think artists over the centuries have sought to use this colour as a means of expression?
D: Blue is the color of the infinite- it’s all around us but elusive. It’s beyond the stars, deep and unknowing, subtle, strong and achingly beautiful. It ties to the world but also ties to something not of this world.
S: Can you describe the experience of creating this work and what it is like to be sharing it with the public eleven years on from its creation?
D: It was a strange process making the work. It started with the feeling of something inside that I could see but couldn’t find in any artist paint supplier. A long process of research and experimentation ensued-quite technical really with many failures but after about ten months something clicked with the materiality of the color I was searching for. Then finding the right marks, composition and surface etc… to carry the paint that I had made was the next challenge.
As for sharing it with the public, I don’t know how I feel-I’ll let you know after the night!
S: This project sees you collaborating with composer Ben Talbot-Dunn. Is collaborating something you have always been drawn to or is it new to your practice?
D: It's relatively new. It interests me to see how someone as talented and intuitive as Ben will respond to the work musically. Obviously, Ben has seen the work and I have discussed it a little-not too much as I don’t want him to influenced by my words. It is my preference for Ben to respond and create independently of me. On the night we come together. That’s exciting!
S: 'Double self-portrait with lipstick, bird and anxiety' (pictured above) was recently announced as a semi-finalist in this year's Doug Moran National Portrait Prize. This work has a fantastic story behind it, can you tell us what inspired the work?
D: Some years ago the local football club won the grand final. One Mad Monday the local OP Shops were busy with the team buying up and dressing in women’s undergarments and clothing then proceeding to the local hotel where it was closed to the public. I also spend a bit of time in St. Kilda-there is a man who I see regularly on the tram into the city. He is quiet and gentle in his early 60’s, grey hair and beard and usually wears a box pleat skirt with matching cardigan, pearls, shoes and stockings. My painting is a response to these varied expressions of gender.
S: What are you working on in the studio at the moment?
D: I’m actually a bit stuck in the studio at the moment-waiting for paintings to come, reading, thinking, looking……
But I need to do something with my hands so I am making some sculpture which I will cast in bronze.