WHEREVER he is in the world, artist Alan Phillips lives by the credo of Carpe Diem, or “seizing the day”.
Recording the world around him is one way he does this, and creating art around some of the most recognisable faces and events of our time is another.
A selection of his collage work from the past four decades forms an exhibition opening in September at the Old Beechworth Gaol, and Alan said he chose the medium of collage to explore the Carpe Diem concept because it “seizes the eye and the mind”.
He said collages inspire deeper contemplation in the viewer.
“It is direct and immediate, sometimes shocking and unsettling our perspectives,” Alan said.
“It invites us to shed the casual glance and to take time to observe, to look more deeply at what those words and images together might suggest, might savour, might subvert.
“To make collage, you can use any material; you don’t need expensive art media.
“In many cases, a pair of scissors, a glue pot and a surface are all you need.
“However, the rules of art are still required – balance, shape, texture, line and a sense of design.”
Alan’s bookshelves are full of colourful and jam packed visual diaries that he has worked on throughout his life, with reflections on sights and places spanning the globe.
“It’s just something that I do,” he said, adding that he uses the diaries as reference material and inspiration for collage and other works later on.
“The act of writing a diary is seizing the day.”
Alan said the collages featuring in his upcoming exhibition, entitled Carpe Diem – Collages from the Diaries, are inspired by a number of things, from war in Europe and the tragedy of 9/11 to commentary on various social issues.
He said one of his favourite pieces in the exhibition poses the question of what would have happened if Leonard da Vinci had designed the Vespa.
He said that art has an important role in society.
“Artists can incite action, record experience, explore emotion, mock pomposity, change perceptions, challenge the status quo, make us feel uneasy,” he said.
“I think we need artists to continue to be passionate, fierce and funny in their observations of the slippery world of false news and subverted language.”
But Alan does not limit himself to one form of artistic expression – he specialises in oil painting and particularly loves portraying the Australian outback.
As someone who spent several decades living in the Northern Territory before making the North East his home, Alan also said he is very passionate about Aboriginal rights and the ongoing struggles faced by Indigenous people.
Alan is a dedicated author, having already written two books – one on his great great grandfather John and John’s grandson Arthur, and one written in collaboration with his wife Joy about their time living in Umbria, Italy – and he is planning to write more books in the future.
With the exhibition being held in the Old Beechworth Gaol, Alan said he was excited about the potential of the venue as an exhibition, events and arts space.
“It’s a wonderful, wonderful venue,” he said.
Carpe Diem – Collages from the Diaries opens at 6pm on Friday, September 14 at the Old Beechworth Gaol, closing on September 24.
More information about Alan and his work is available at www.alanphillipsart.com.
EXPLORING ART: Alan Phillips surrounded by artwork in his Beechworth studio.
◆ CREATIVE INSPIRATION: Alan records the world around him in detailed visual diaries, which he often later uses as inspiration for his artwork. ◆ STRIKING: (Inset) One of Alan Phillips’ collage artworks, entitled Princess Di- A Shakespearian tragedy (580x500mm).