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 .
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.
Inspired by Cornelia Selover, the Rite of Spring exhibition in November provided great impetus to the development of the Events Room Gallery. The new gallery adds an art filled ambience to meetings, workshops, games nights and celebrations held in the events room.. It was pleasing to see red dots gradually appearing during the exhibition. In early December Tim Bowtell's 'Rite of Spring' poster artwork and Deb Dodd's beautiful mosaic'd 'Fiesta for my Feathered Friends' bird bath (pictured) were both happily purchased and farewelled .
Music has reemerged at NEA over the past month or so, with the Bow N Tell Brothers playing in the Foyer Gallery at the Rite of Spring opening; Cobblestone, Kat and Rat, Michaela, and Erin featuring at NEA's Christmas Party and Carla and Tim Gardner's 25th wedding anniversary party recently, with Russell responding to an 'Open Mic' call up at the Christmas party singing lively sea shanties. Michaela has offered to become involved in planning future music events at NEA. Thanks, Michaela.
New digital speakers which can be tethered to phone play lists have led to enhanced music quality in NEA's gallery spaces.. And, of course, if you listen very carefully when he's about, Seamus can be heard quietly singing Irish, English and Scottish folk music..
The foyer gallery, a salon in which NEA members meet up and share ideas and plans, is being transformed again. A rather sculptural new coffee machine on a hand crafted mobile counter is now in place and an even more cafe like environment envisaged.
A perk of being at a meeting at NEA on Thursday was being able to taste the first coffees made with Tim and Kylie's new coffee machine !
NEA members who enjoy writing and contribute to publicity, Facebook, the website and submissions play an important role at NEA. Ruth Eisemann is now actively looking at the placement of NEA marketing in relation to the tourist industry and was recently involved with Tim Bowtell in resourcing a very readable and informative front page article about NEA in a tourism insert in the Wangaratta Chronicle. NEA artisans, Beechworth glass maker Leisa Clarke and Glenrowan felter Lise Darcy, who live and work in NEA's northern catchment area, are featured. If you haven't seen it, it's on the table in the Foyer Gallery.
Sustainability Team member Annalies describes enjoying the Water Kefir workshop held recently, with five participants providing the opportunity for her to pilot this workshop which will be repeated in 2017. Tim held his final Oil Painting workshop for 2016 on Sunday, while last week a 'Train the Trainer' program was run at NEA by Sally Wallace from Waminda. Waminda is offering this course to NEA artisans who may be anxious about conducting workshops at a reduced rate conditional upon agreement to offer a workshop through Waminda, Short notice meant that only one artisan was able to join the group and take up the reduced fee offer this time, however another Train the Train workshop is likely in 2017.
Planning for the Door of Hope Project is now well underway. Subject/Object/I - Self Mapping Through Art' with Edie Black and 'From Fibre to Felt' with Annie Longmuir are being offered from mid February to March through the Door of Hope project to people with a long term interest in arts and crafts who haven't had the opportunity, for various reasons, to have this realized. Fliers and other information will be available soon.
So much is happening .... but it soon will be time to slow down and focus on family and the festive season for a few days at least.
Then it will be January - and another burst of activity at NEA during the World Gliding Championships. Margaret Zaal has been working with great enthusasiasm on designing new workshop formats to be offered during January, including workshops with groups of three NEA artisans and new toy workshops with Tim Schloss, It seems that the gliding championships have inspired a new Schloss range to join Tim's Swords, Shields, Axes and Kelly Guns.
Evidence that Merv Beamish, whose Pop Up Art Show continues to the end of December at Chocolate Lane, has also been inspired by the upcoming gliding championships. is evident in these photos of a 'work in progress' in his upstairs studio.
Photos: Merv Beamish
**'The Occasional Blogger' is open for submissions by NEA members who may, from time to time, have a strong urge to write about their work or about NEA!. Send copy to email@example.com.
Merv's Pop-Up Arts Show at Chocolate Lane continues to the end of December.
The Chocolate Lane exhibition coincides with an exhibition including Merv and Irina's work at the New York gallery of their friend and 'curator extraordinaire', Basha Maryanska.
Irina described being 'beyond excited' that her work was in the window of Jadite Galleries in Times Square, 'A big thrill'.
Apparently this is the first time Merv and Irina haven't been in New York when their work is being exhibited. However they seem to be enjoying their 'Pop Up' involvement with Chocolate Lane, Benalla.
A new workshop with Mervyn Beamish on Sunday 15th January, 2.30 pm. Bookings essential.
Festival time at North East Artisans is here - with the Rite of Spring exhibition and the East End Street Party happening later today. There will be lots of activity in the events room, now a dual purpose second gallery space, with the opening of the Rite of Spring exhibition at NEA at 5 pm on Friday and the East End Street Party on outside. More news to come! Click on the poster image for a slide show of the Rite of Spring's poster collection.
Art shows are on in abundance, with the 2016 Benalla Festival Regional Art Show at Tatong organised by NEA member De Sales Turner and supported well by NEA artisans. This year Tim Bowtell won the acquisitional 'Best in Show' prize with his painting 'Chinese New Era' and Julie Guppy. 'Best Local Artist' with her painting.'Tall Trees'. Judges were Tony Flint and Shanlee Cleeland.. Speaking to de Sales, it seems Tim's painting will hang at different times in community locations. The Art Show at Tatong is open until Sunday 6th November.
Merv Beamish recently donated a painting as a fundraiser for the Benalla Shorts Film Festival. Merv's painting was won by Laurie Watters, pictured here with Tim Bowtell at the Cup Eve Picnic Party when her horse in the phantom cup call won the race. (I bought lots of tickets - hoping I'd take Merv's painiting home with me!)
While workshops have quietened down a little, the last week has seen a healthy lift in sales at NEA's Gift Shop and Gallery, including larger sales by artists who have been supporting NEA by exhibiting and taking studios. Good things can come to those who wait! At least one of our artisans in wood has received a commission which was also exciting to hear. We have very much enjoyed having Colin Robson's sculptures and bird nesting boxes in the gallery over the past year - Colin is taking a break for a while, but we are hopeful he will return soon.
It's interesting following up on activities of past and present NEA artisans. Karthika and Beth have taken their passions a step further recently - opening shops in picturesque Nunn Street - Karthika 'Good Vibes Store - Organic and Eco Products' and Beth 'Beth's doll house- toys for girls and boys'.
Many artisans are on facebook - with a link to their Facebook page through the Artisans Index. This came through Margaret Zaal's this week. Isn't it beautiful!
**'The Occasional Blogger' is open for submissions by NEA members who may, from time to time, have a strong urge to write about NEA for this column!.
Merv has posted this YouTube video for people interested in finding out more about his work and workshops.
Merv's Workshop, Make your own oil pastels and learn how to use them will be held at NEA,at a date to be advised - keep an eye on the workshops page.
The term "Artists' Residency" is a cacophony of meanings and interpretations. Like the word 'environment' it can be used in many ways. I've just attended a residency with fellow NEA artist Irina Korotkow which included a month or so free accommodation, an exhibition area and a studio space in return for running a couple of workshops, manning a gallery (same location as studio space). Sometimes the term 'residency' is used as an alternative for workshop, often with travel, a cruise and particular artist teacher.
This artists' residency was a gathering of international artists to work together, exchange ideas and techniques, and visit some of the worlds greatest artworks. The residency was by invitation and limited to a small number of artists, sculptors and a musician from Europe, USA, Africa and we represented Australia.
The residency, partially funded by the EU and other sponsors, was curated by artist and curator Basha Maryanska and held at the Goluchow castle estate in Poland (side note, one of the castles featured in the Harry Potter films, which has given me great status with the grandkids). We stayed in the castle grounds, hotel Mulzeany, not 5 minutes walk. There was a large purpose built studio space and ample grounds to wander and work in. One hit was The Hunting Lodge which serve the most wonderful and intoxicating ice cream, and of course Polish beer.
What did it cost us? I know some of you want to know. All art materials (Canvases, basic paints, brushes etc.) were supplied also three nice meals a day. The hotel room was humungus and furnished in the period style of the castle with the portrait of the original owner (a shady character) pompously, and some what disapprovingly peering down at the bed, but stuff him artists are artists! The accommodation as a whole package was heavily discounted, primarily covered by sponsorship and came to around $700 for the fortnight, that included transport during the residency. Air tickets were our own responsibility, however, I managed to get a good deal through STA which turned out quite a lot less than expected
At the end of the residency there was an exhibition in the castle which then lead onto a travelling exhibition to move around Poland. While one could arrange the return of works after this exhibition. I left mine in Poland to be sold or otherwise disposed of. I did sell a larger canvas while staying at the Hotel, so now am represented in a private collection in Poland.
All in all, a wonderful and educational trip. I've been invited again next year, not sure where at this stage, the possibilities include USA, France, Italy or Qatar.
Both Irina and I have been asked to organise a similar residency in Benalla in 2018 or 2019 and several international artists are eager to come and paint with Australian artists, also a top Belgian sculptor Luc de Man and New York ceramicist Elizabeth Frischauf. We're a bit of a mystery to them.
**Thanks, Merv for responding to our invitation to write an 'Occasional Blog' about your experiences in Poland.
**'The Occasional Blogger' is open for submissions by NEA members who may, from time to time, have a strong urge to write for this column (or can be cajoled into doing so)!
It's still very wintery, though Spring isn't far away and the camellias and daffodils have begun to brighten up our gardens.
NEA artisans who headed north during winter are gradually reappearing on roster duty.. Artisans who headed furthest north and are still travelling in Europe are Merv Beamish and Irena Korotkow. Merv's Facebook page includes a post about the exhibition which culminated the Artists' Residency he and Irena have just completed in in Poland.
A new workshop series commenced at NEA in August, with Annie Longmuir offering Knitting and Crochet workshops on Tuesday evenings from 6 to 7.30 pm, school holiday weeks excluded. Participants bring individual projects, receiving help from Annie and support from other participants.
Cornelia Selover is currently in the midst of presenting Life Drawing Workshops at the Benalla Art Gallery, with Margaret Zaal's botanical drawing workshops starting late in September. Tim Bowtell describes enjoying his oil painting classes and is offering another one on August 28th.
'Buttons to Go's Carole Grenfell visited NEA from Shepparton recently to replenish stocks.
It was interesting chatting to Carole about 'The Mill' at Castlemaine, an artisans' precinct which sounds well worth visiting. Carole explained that she exhibits with them both onsite and online.
Two reminders - the first for artisans who do not yet have a web page on this site and would like to do so, please contact Tim Bowtell. The second - if you are interested in becoming involved with a soon to be established Friends of NEA', please contact Bev Lee firstname.lastname@example.org.
On a final note, the 23rd Bald Archy's Exhibition has just opened in Swanpool. Might see you there!
**'The Occasional Blogger' is open for submissions by NEA members who may, from time to time, have a strong urge to write about NEA (or are cajoled into doing so by the Web team)!.
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