Seiz­ing in­spi­ra­tion

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - FRONT PAGE - By KYLIE WIL­SON

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.alan­phillip­

PHOTO: Coral Cook­sley

EX­PLOR­ING ART: Alan Phillips sur­rounded by art­work in his Beech­worth stu­dio.

PHOTO: Kylie Wil­son

◆ 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).

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