As part of his painting process, Sydney artist Ian Grant travels to central NSW to absorb the landscape. While he takes photos and makes drawings, it's important to him to experience the environment too. When it comes to creating paintings based on his experience, he doesn't lock himself to representing the exact space. Instead, he is willing to move trees and other objects to create an emotion for those viewing the artwork. Ian has exhibited extensively over the years and been awarded and named a finalist in many prizes too, including the Blake Prize. He was also head of painting at COFA for many years. His is exhibiting at the Tim Olsen Gallery until September 2.
Which five words best describe you? Artist, sensory, focused, reflective and patient.
How have you progressed to a career as an artist? I started in secondary art education, as did many of my generation of artists, and moved to an involvement with painting as an academic and as a practitioner. I was always an artist and an academic with painting as a focus - in a sense I had two parallel careers until I left COFA in 2006.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? An artwork, in my case a painting, is more than its subject matter. I have learnt much from artists who choose to not work with representation.
What was the starting point for this exhibition? My experience with land, silence and distance and my desire to communicate this experience in paintings that go beyond representation of specific sites.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Hopefully, my last painting or the one that I am thinking about or just starting.
What’s been your best decision? In art? To enjoy teaching and to enquire deeply into aspects of painting that interest me. In life? To marry Ruth and to live amongst friends.
Who inspires you? There could be a long list. In painting it would include Johannes Vermeer, Caspar David Friedrich, Piet Mondrian, Mark Rothko, Fred Williams and the Papunya Tula artists. But I am still inspired by many of the students I crossed paths with - they taught me so much.
What are you passionate about? Again, many things - but essentially the striving for poetics and sensory uplift in what I try to do with painting. More broadly, though, I am passionate about the aesthetic environment, good design, 'touching the earth lightly' and being able to give and receive within an open and peaceful society.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Either Jesus Christ or Johannes Vermeer to ask them what they were really about. Neither of them left us any written information.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? The normal one for artists - to experience the best art and to keep making artworks, hopefully good ones. And in a new house with a big studio.