Artist Profile

Artist Profile - Frank Boyle

It is hard to believe it has been 15 years since graduating from the National Art School in Sydney. And it is a pleasure to remain in contact with several people from our time spent in drawing classes, painting classes and campus life. One such friend and fellow artist is Frank Boyle who also resides in Wentworth Falls and shows at Day Fine Art in Blackheath. Frank will be exhibiting at Day Fine Art later in the year (5-21 November). I recently caught up with Frank in his studio where large canvases in various stages of completion lined the walls and floor. He is known for his large scale atmospheric landscapes and also paintings which were inspired from his many trips to India. Frank has the rare talent of capturing the internal states of his solitary figures standing in vast, ethereal fields of colour ... quite incongruous to the hustle bustle reality of India!

How old were you when you felt like you were an artist?

I don't actually consider myself to be an 'artist'. I call myself a visual artist if anyone asks but I prefer to think of myself as a painter. I'd have been in my mid to late 40's, a few years after I felt I'd started to develop my own language that I had the confidence to think of myself as an 'artist'.

What is your background?   

I'm originally from Scotland and worked in the sheet metal industry.                                                                      

What role does the artist have in society?

Artists provide inspiration and pleasure for people inside and outside of the creative industries. Imagine the world with no books, libraries, paintings, art galleries, music, dance, drama etc.

How do you navigate your way through a creative block? 

I see a creative block as being caused by fear. Fear of failure, criticism or any other negative response that may result from any piece of work I may produce or am unable to. I meditate to try to find out what the cause of the block is. I try to feel how the fear effects my physical body. I also use the 'down time' caused by the perceived block to research other artists to recharge my inspiration.

Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

The archetypal artist is generally considered to live a lonely (and poor) existence. I am by nature a bit of a solitary soul so I don't really feel that lonely. I could probably go to more exhibitions, which I do from time to time. I could also stay in touch with more people in the art community but that would probably take a lot of effort and time on my part.

Name 3 artists you'd like to be compared to. 

I'm a bit embarrassed by this question because I don't think I've earned the right to be compared to other artists but if I had to choose 3, off the top of my head, I'd choose Eardley, Manet and Bischoff for no reason other than I love their work and spend a lot of time looking at them; and many others of course!

Whats the best piece of advice you've been given? 

Don't teach unless you've got something to say.

How do you feel receiving criticism? 

Uncomfortable, but I think it's important to hear what others have to say, whether good or bad and be able to use it positively to grow and improve. Using it negatively can really eat you up and do terrible things to your self esteem and leave you feeling quite damaged.

What art do you most identify with? 


Whats the strongest memory of your childhood? 

Time spent on my own. I used to enjoy going for long walks on my own along country roads near where I grew up. I liked to explore, look at nature, catch frogs and let them go, climb trees etc.

Thank you Frank for allowing me into your studio space and giving us an insight into how you work. I look forward to seeing your show later in the year!

Artist Profile - Kay Bazley

To broaden my contact with other artists and their practice, I will be interviewing creative folk over the next few months to see what makes them ‘tick’. Visiting their studio offers insight into their mode of creativity, thoughts on why they do what they do and an opportunity to glean wisdom and inspiration from their practice. Thank you to my first Artist Profile volunteer Kay Bazley for welcoming me into her space and sharing her thoughts on life as an artist.

Why do you do what you do?

Most of my work is sculptural, although I have dabbled in printmaking and photography.  These days I tend to specialise in handbuilt ceramic sculptures and welded steel.  I don’t really know how I ended up doing this sort of work. My art journey has often felt like a haphazard process where I might be inspired by a chance conversation with someone,  courses or workshops I have done, or  an image from an exhibition, the internet or wherever.

I love walking in the blue mountains wilderness where I live- so plant life, the way the light falls through trees, beads of sweat on my skin, even a glimpse of rusted steel by the side of the road  – all these things seem to find their way into the forms I create, the ceramic glazes I make and the materials I use.

Can you talk about some of your recent work?

For the past few years I have been playing around with vertical forms in my sculptural work. I had been doing a lot of bushwalking (mainly to help me recover from some nerve damage and chronic pain I sustained a few years ago).  Anyway, we would walk for hours and hours through the most amazing wilderness.  I would catch glimpses of a waratah, or moss on rock, shadows, running water, bark, whatever. These visual fragments would all seem to stack up on each other, and began to come out in my ceramic work – like the totems on totem poles we associate with indigenous people from North America.

I started to learn how to weld steel so I could make vertical stands for these works, and then fell in love with steel and the danger and drama of welding.  So now I am beginning to make sculptures out of welded steel – sometimes they incorporate ceramic pieces, sometimes not.  I am very excited about this new direction.  And my work seems to be getting bigger and bigger, which is surprising because for many years I worked on a smaller, more intimate scale.

What is your background?

I am a psychologist by trade, and have worked most of my life in community services as a counsellor, community worker or a teacher of those at TAFE.  I have loved this work, although my artwork has been shunted to the side for way too long. I squeezed in courses where I could – at TAFE and National Art School mainly.  But for the past few years I have been allowing my art life to grow and to claim more space in my life. This has been a ‘challenging joy’.

  It is joyous because I love it.  But it is immensely challenging because it is involving a shift in my identity (geez when will I ever be able to call myself an ‘artist’ without feeling a fraud?).  It holds an uncertain future (what will I do for money if I don’t have a ‘real job’). And it endlessly challenges my confidence (what if my work is crap?).  As I write this I can hear the builder outside my window - noisily building me a welding shed.  Its part of my (expensive) commitment to my new life.  Exciting and terrifying in equal measure.

Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

This is such an interesting question!  I’ve found that art has brought me so many people.  I am blessed with some really lovely people I would have only ever met through art. They inspire me.  We do things together.  We build community.

But certainly the artistic life can be an ‘alone’ life.  Its so different to my other job where I go to work in the public domain and am surrounded by people all day. So for many years I welcomed my art life because it gave me respite from all that energy going outwards.  But now the balance is tipping and I am spending more and more time in my art, and my solitary existence.  I am becoming increasingly dishevelled in my appearance (an unexpected freedom).  Sometimes its ‘lonely’, but sometimes it is blissfully ‘alone’.

I remember talking about this to an art friend recently, and she said that in those moments of feeling lonely and isolated she treats her art like it is a friend or companion.  What a beautiful insight, and a great comfort.

Whats the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

To ‘stand by your work’ and not apologise for it (or be ashamed of it).