Terry John­son

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

Job ti­tle: artist ANY­ONE in­trigued by the bright paint­ing along Macrossan St en­ti­tled Goin’ Troppo - which de­picts well-known char­ac­ter­is­tics of Port Dou­glas - might like to take the chance to dive a lit­tle bit deeper into its art com­mu­nity.

They’ll walk up an orange-red, brick path to see a few paint­ings on easels un­der an en­closed pa­tio area.

In­side the sim­ple space, to the left of the door, sits Terry John­son on an orange stool with splattered paint on it, fast at work, but happy to take the time to greet his guests.

“The ques­tion I’m most asked is, ’Where are you from’, as soon as I say hi,” Terry said.

Orig­i­nally from Penn­syl­va­nia, USA, the artist first came to Aus­tralia with his wife Nancy, also Amer­i­can, on an as­sisted pas­sage in 1972.

In the ’90s, the ex-pat cou­ple opened Wil­son’s at Robe in South Aus­tralia, a large art gallery fea­tur­ing the works of about 40 artists in the small beach town. It was here John­son was in­flu­enced to share his tal­ent with a beach town up north, Port Dou­glas.

“There was a cus­tomer and she said you should ap­ply for the artist in res­i­dency at Car­ni­vale,” he said.

“I didn’t ap­ply. Then a few months later I got a let­ter say­ing you’ve been short-listed for it.”

Terry’s cus­tomer had en­tered John­son for the po­si­tion. He came to Port Dou­glas for an in­ter­view and won the Car­ni­vale artist in res­i­dence for 2004.

Af­ter one sea­son, Terry was hooked and started spend­ing May to Oc­to­ber in Port Dou­glas and opened the stu­dio gallery off Macrossan St in 2009.

“I think we both loved it as soon as we came,” John­son said. “The art com­mu­nity here, I think is re­ally ex­cit­ing and fun. As far as the en­vi­ron­ment goes, for in­spi­ra­tion, well I don’t think it can get any bet­ter.”

John­son draws in­spi­ra­tion from ev­ery­thing from St Mary’s Church to the Dain­tree to the peo­ple of Port Dou­glas.

Op­er­at­ing on feel­ing rather than re­al­ity, his work is bright, lively and busy, fea­tur­ing im­ages of swinging, red fish, even peo­ple in stinger suits.

Terry said about 40 guests visit the gallery per day. Now he’s con­quered the abil­ity to paint and lis­ten at the same time, he says the ra­tio of paint­ing to talk­ing is about 50/50.

“It’s re­ally the most fun here be­cause the peo­ple who walk up the trail want to,” he said. “On an av­er­age day I meet peo­ple from 14 dif­fer­ent coun­tries, it’s ex­cit­ing.”

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