“‘The affinity I felt with the Riverina landscape – both in its early, emergent form, and now, as it has developed and enriched my aesthetic sensibility – was both unexpected and profound, tapping into a deep need in all of us, I think, to live alongside things natural… it is in regional NSW that I have felt most myself, and the landscape is integral in shaping this easeful and freeing sense of ‘coming home’ to a place I’d hitherto never even visited.“
Say you grew up in Sydney and after years of teaching there, the call of the country beckoned with its promises of expansiveness – both of geography and of mind. Say you moved to Wagga in 2014 and the Riverina landscape had an immediate effect – the clearly delineated seasons, from mists to dry heat, the sights and smells of spring giving way to the mellow haze of long, slow autumns, and the river; the river that is the spiritual and economic pulse of the region.
Say you had always drawn and painted as a kid, and later, travelled widely across the US and Europe to absorb as much famous painting as possible, but it wasn’t until arriving in Wagga that you found the right conditions to be able to understand you could be a Painter.
Say you went to Wagga Wagga Art Gallery one day and met Curator, Drew Halyday, without a CV or exhibition to your name, and spoke passionately about an exhibition you imagined, to make something wonderful and show it in the main gallery space. Say that that Curator and the Gallery Director Stephen Payne, called later to say Yes!!
And your first solo exhibition unfurled.
From there to here sought to capture the effect of moving from sprawling city to the Riverina, and depicted its distinctive colours and contours as they gradually came into focus for this new arrival, like a slowly developing photograph.
Say the newly minted artist went on to exhibit across regional NSW, including Griffith Regional Gallery & Western Plains Cultural Centre, and in capital cities such as Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. In 2018 say you were named the Country Arts SA Grindell’s Hut Artist in Residence, and a finalist in the National Emerging Art Prize.
Say, before you, in 2021, a series of artworks commissioned by NSW Health & Infrastructure and Creative Road will be unveiled as part of the Dubbo Hospital Redevelopment Project & Western Cancer Centre.
Such an accomplishment, as though you had waited all your life to burst into bloom, and seize the day with such a powerful and deliberative flourish.
Say the newly minted, long-percolating artist and long-term high school English teacher harboured a longing for theatre. Somewhere deep inside him. Yearning for that next challenge. Not realising it lay just ahead, the landscape, the foothills and the giant sky moving him, a harbinger of joys to come.
Say your partner came across an audition callout – for Henry V, to be staged at The Roxy Theatre in Leeton, and encourage the big leap. Say that she had heard you speculate over the years about being an actor; a fantasy, a ‘nice idea’, and suddenly the timing was right, the gods conspired – and you thought, ‘what have I got to lose?’
And now here you are – facing down the biggest leap of your life – your stage debut as Pistol, the comic masterpiece in Shakespeare’s greatest of the History Plays. With a crew as raw, inspired, magnificent and undiscovered, ready to fly beside you, ready to rise! Risen out of the Riverina landscape like spirits, like apparitions of a magic past, part of an aesthetic, a dreaming, an imagining, a Place that is wild, expansive and fuels an alchemy of energies to makes new things, makes art, tells stories of this place, and draws the heart. The heart.
The little boy from Earlwood, son of an Italian migrant, school boy soccer champion, dreamer, teacher, artist. Shakespeare has come for you.