Mervyn Beamish - 'Artisan in oils and oil pastels, with a side genre of ‘steam punk’'.
“Described by others as a ‘Reluctant Eccentric’, my trademark is a badge studded kangaroo skin hat more commonly referred to as ‘me ‘at’ as in ‘Where’s me bloody ‘at?’.
My life is reflected in my art as a series of ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’ experiments, thus art is, to me, a celebration of life. Each completed piece is the fruition of a challenge.
Primary mediums are oils and oil pastels often moving beyond traditional colours to use roadside dust, genuine ochres etc. I seldom use a brush preferring more rudimentary tools such as window cleaners squeegees, cooking implements etc and am a constant rummager of hardware, cooking and bric-a-brac stores for mark makers.
Computer, sketchbook and camera are the instruments within my art reference laboratory”.
Quick Facts on Merv:
Home: Benalla, Victoria
Where would you most want to live and create/write etc? Benalla!
Comfort food: ‘I love frozen yoghurt icy poles’
Artistic Influences: Tom Roberts; Dennis Hopper; Geoffrey Smart; Cornelia Selover
Current reads/films/exhibitions attended: ‘I watched ‘Frida’, on the artist Frida Kahlo, last night’.
What are you working on at the moment? ‘A portrait of a family member’
What was the first work you exhibited publicaly or sold as an artist? ‘It was a long time ago. My mother was quite a well known artist, I think it was bought on the off chance I might follow in my mother’s footsteps. It was an oil painting of a New Guinea native looking through greenery…it was pretty awful really.’
How has your background/ background influenced your artwork/creativity ? ‘My background includes growing up on a farm; working as a builder and labourer; compiling the Canberra/Goulburn Telephone directory. I returned to school, then worked for the Post Office and in public service jobs including a stint as a draughtsman in PNG. After this I went to art school, then worked in industrial design and as a freelance writer and editor. I inherited my creativity from my mum, who was a prolific artist. I’m not really an urban painter. The fact that I like painting country, bush scenes comes from my farm background. The colour and openness gave me an astute feeling for colour. Colour mixing has always been intuitive for me. I love teaching art – I really do. I like community teaching, I’ve done lots of this in Sydney.’
What’s the best part of being an artist? ‘The meditation. When I get depressed it takes me to another world. It takes me to my daydream world. It’s meditative. Most paintings I do as a challenge, to prove I can do them, to experiment.’
What’s the worst part of being an artist? ‘It can be a challenge to my self esteem. I have needed to get out of the habit of comparing myself to other artists. Like swimmers who swim against their own times, I have to watch that my self esteem doesn’t go down by comparing myself to other artists. I’m fortunate that I don’t have to sell to live…’
What’s the best (or worst) advice you’ve received about your work? ‘Hard to say… I think the main thing has been the encouragement to keep going and keep experimenting’
What’s been the most significant moment in your artistic/creative career so far? ‘An invitation to exhibit and show my work in New York and since then a number of other overseas destinations. When I sell something, it’s a boost to my ego, if nothing else. When a workshop is going well, that really is a thrill…when a workshop sells out and people keep coming’’
What do you find most challenging about (your field of work) ….. ? ‘A fair question. Myself, I think. I find if I have a break it’s hard to get back into the flow of things. I’m renovating a house at the moment and have to force myself to go back to painting’.
When you’re struggling with a painting, where do you look for inspiration? ‘Often I’ll change the medium I’m using – change from oil to oil pastels. I’m always searching the internet for inspiration. I do a lot of digital art, most paintings are planned digitally, not photographically’.
Who do you picture as the ideal viewer/audience of your work? ‘I love teaching…my ideal audience is someone who is managing to get inspired to paint’
Whether creativity in different areas can be taught is often debated – what’s your view? ‘Anybody can be encouraged to be creative – some fall in to place more easily than others. We can’t all be Rembrandt. If the motivation is there, creativity can be brought out, as the human mind has a creative factor to it’.
Where and when do you prefer to work on your art? ‘I prefer to paint in a studio, but I also like plein air painting… Lately I’m all over the place. When I have access to a studio, I’ll work all night. Lately I work in the morning; snooze in the afternoon, go to work at night’
What do you listen to when you work? ‘These days, nothing. The deafer I get, the less noise I want. If I do listen to something, I play it over and over. One of my paintings was painted to the sounds of Meatloaf’s ‘Midnight at the Lost and Found’.
Do you buy your art supplies online, in an arts store, or both? ‘Both. I buy online, but the value of going to an art store is in the advice and range of art supplies. Most art stores have online stores.’
What’s your advice for someone wanting to be an artist in your field? ‘If you want to make a living as an artist, do a marketing degree! Experiment by yourself, go to community workshops, or if you have the opportunity, go to art school. This teaches you to be an artist, not just skills. Troll YouTube – it’s a universe in itself’.
When not painting , what do you like to do? ‘I read a lot; use computers; work on websites and watch television. I’m a gardener, too!’
If you weren’t making or supplementing your living by being an artist, what would you be doing instead? ‘I’d still be writing. I started writing as therapy as I’m dyslexic, but I just took off. I’d be writing, or a grey nomad, maybe.’
If you could go out to dinner with any artist, who would it be and why? ‘Dennis Hopper. His paintings feature a lot of people in situations – he has way of marrying people, emotions and locations in a wonderful way. The other is James Gurney, He teaches so much information in his blog and in his books.’
What’s the art work that’s had the most significant impact on your life and work or an artist– and why? ‘Artists like Tom Roberts. I like the Australian bush artists. I’ve always been interested in and affected by Geoffrey Smart. My side genres include steam punk.’
Do you have a philosophy for how and why you create? ‘No – not that I know of. It’s up to the beholder to decide’
At the beginning of the interview you said you are currently working on a portrait of a family member. What do you hope viewers will take away from this? ‘It’s in the eye of the beholder. I want to create an emotion, for them to see something that’s relevant to them, not to me’.
Merv was interviewed at Rambling Rose Café, Benalla on Tuesday January 9, 2018 by Bev Lee.
Merv has an open studio at NEA , exhibits at NEA and runs workshops including 'Make your own Oil Pastels' and 'Realistic Abstract'. . His work is currently featuring on the NEA website home page and on NEA's FB page., Merv is working towards an exhibition in Violet Town later this year.
You can check out Merv's recent work on his website www.mervynbeamishartist.com .
NEA;s Tim Bowtell is currently exhibiting work at Chocolate Lane
Pamella Francis from Chocolate Lane cafe in the lane near the Bridge in Bridge Street loves art. An active member of the Hay arts community before coming to Benalla, Pamella has created a unique 'chocoholics heaven' in a little lane next to the Commercial Hotel.
Late last year Pamella and NEA's Tim Bowtell developed the concept of a partnership between Choolate Lane and NEA which has resulted in an occasional program of exhibitions featuring NEA artists or artists recommended by NEA members.
Merv Beamish's Pop Up Exhibition commenced the exhibition program in mid December 2016, with Merv's warm, impressionistic oil pastels and acrylics perfect for a cafe environment and adding to the welcoming atmosphere at Chocolate Lane.
To add to the atmosphere during the Wall to Wall Festival, Adam Knapper was suggested to Pamela. Adam, who has strong links to the Molyullah area and NEA through his family, exhibited at Chocolate Lane from March 31st to May 13th.. Adam's engaging collection of quirky, affordable café art clearly drew upon his involvement in the graffiti art movement of the eighties. You can read Adam's bio here.
NEA's Tim Bowtell. is currently exhibiting work at Chocolate Lane. Check out Tim's paintings during Chocolate Lane's winter opening hours - Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday mornings.
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A 'go to whoa' slide show of Merv's intriguing and practical 'Make your own oil pastels' demonstration and oil pastels workshop.
There is so much happening at NEA currently! Some happenings have warranted their own posts, so this post is a miscellany of snippets...
Kylie and Tim's 'Coffee is where the art is'... pop up cafe in the foyer gallery is a wonderful place to meet people Sam Bowtell (of the Bow N Tell Brothers and Killer Pig Productions') called by on Saturday morning. The Centre in Wangaratta, is continuing to publicise and distribute Killer Pigs' movie 'Slope' and is likely to rescreen it in Wangaratta at end of January, Sam and Jake are also planning to screen 'Slope' at rural cinemas across the north east over the coming months and looking towards crowd funding a DVD to be distributed to schools - a key audience. They are busy on a number of projects, including a feature film - already two and a half years in the making,
Sam and Lauren
The atmospheric courtyard outside the foyer gallery/cafe is now providing a terrific home for the colourful mosaic table which community members contributed to under Deb Dodd's guidance at the Maker's Mart festival during Wall to Wall Art last year.
Seamus, Tim Schloss and Hudson.
It seems it's the season for our artisans and members to immerse themselves in their own creative development, with Margaret Zaal 'excited beyond belief' to be going to a four day workshop in Geelong; Merilyn at a lifedrawing camp in Queensland and Seamus having just returned from an Irish folk music week near Coroit. Seamus came away from the week having written a poem, a song and having been the narrator for a documentary oriented slide show on the Irish Rebellion which engaged other Irish musicians in the camp in song. There must have been some wonderful jamming sessions.
Merv posted this portrait by his friend CJHaumann on our timeline recently - prefaced by 'See what NEA is doing to me!"
Lots has been happening in Merv's life this week, a birthday, buying a house in Benalla, becoming engaged to Irina and taking an oil pastels workshop at NEA at the weekend.
Cornelia's posted a Facebook entry in a similar vein, prefacing it with something to the effect that it's lucky her studio is not at home...
To finish... - 'Caught' - a photo of the Friday morning to afternoon handover - with Annie Longmuir and Janet Leith caught arriving to replace Lise Darcy and Elaine Murphy recenlty.
Annie, Janet, Lise and Elaine.
First, a reminder that the Rite of Spring exhibition in the Events Gallery officially ends on November 30. People will be able to pick up art work they have purchased then, however remaining works will continue to hang until after late night shopping on Thursday 6th November. It has been wonderful having an exhibition of new work by NEA's artisans in this space. Visitors to Benalla who come to NEA seem to truly value the opportunity to visit what is becoming the NEA complex - with Gift Shop & Gallery; Foyer Gallery; the Events Room Gallery and seven artisan's studios upstairs.
It will soon be Christmas. NEA's Christmas party last weekend was a happy and relaxing event and artisans and volunteers are now gearing up for Benalla's pre-Christmas shopping experience on Thursday 1st December between 6pm and 8.30pm, NEA is an active participant in the event and will be remain until 8.30 pm. Buy tickets and some unique Christmas gifts at NEA before heading out to shop until you drop for two and a half hours!
Also on at 6 pm Thursday 1st December is the opening of 'A Month of Art Works by Merv Beamish' pop up arts show at Chocolate Lane.
Caught in action restocking at NEA for Christmas, artisan Sue Lamour of Sacred Stones.
While the workshop program is slowing down, the 'implementation stage' of the Door of Hope project is ramping up. The project's teachers have been appointed and the next stage of marketing the project is about to begin.
I love checking out gallery spaces! A few days ago I came across a new gift shop with exhibition space in the store next to The Whitty Cafe at Whitfield A past work colleague Anton co-owns and works at the cafe and gallery and is particularly keen to hang and sell paintings in addition to jewellery , wood work and ethical products.. The Whitty Cafe is in a 'niche' market, located near King Valley wineries and places where people come for weekend stays.
On a trip to Sydney a month ago I visited one of my favourite gallery spaces at Sturt Workshops in Mittagong. Worth a detour when travelling to Sydney!
Back to NEA - the other day Cornelia said it would be a good time to take a photo of her studio. Here goes!
**'The Occasional Blogger' is open for submissions by NEA members who may, from time to time like me, have a strong urge to write about NEA!. Send copy to email@example.com.
Regular updates on news of interest to NEA artisans, friends and community members and on key events in the NEA calendar. This blog complements NEA on Facebook - check this out too!
Bald Archy Exhibition
Benalla Street Art Wall to Wall Festival
Benalla Street Art Map
Benalla Youth Action Committee
Juddy Roller Wall to Wall
Benalla Art Gallery
Shepparton Art Museum
GANEAA (Goulburn and North East Arts Alliance)
Wangaratta Art Gallery
Table Top Games at NEA