August 20th, 2023Artists of the Central Highlands … with Eve Lamb
An enduring love affair with the Australian landscape, its power and diversity, underscores the work of much-collected Daylesford painter and printmaker Greg Mallyon. Greg’s abstract topographical images are inspired by an aerial perspective and his life story includes constant study, travel and rich exposure to European, Asian, Middle Eastern and our own Indigenous cultures. The many arts awards that this talented local creative has collected along the way include the 2021 National Capital Art Prize for Landscape and the Digital Art Award for the 2023 Queenscliff Art Prize.
Eve: Hi Greg. How should we best describe your artistic style? Does it fit into a particular arts genre?
Greg: My paintings and prints are abstract landscapes inspired by an aerial perspective, however they fall within the long Australian tradition of depicting our unique continent.
Eve: How did you come to art?
Greg: I won a fellowship to the Queensland College of Art when I was 17 so my fate was sealed at a very young age!
Eve: How did you nurture your innate arts talent? Further studies?
Greg: Since graduating from art school I have continued to study both formally, for example, studying fine arts in Italy and a Masters degree at UNSW, or through many informal workshops and courses over the years. This constant exposure to new techniques and ideas means my work continues to evolve and change.
Eve: Where do you do most of your art work? Where is your home studio?
Greg: My humble studio is a former school demountable and is located in my garden in Daylesford. Kangaroos, magpies and kookaburras are regular visitors.
Eve: Which artists have influenced your work?
Greg: My work is inspired by a variety of sources including satellite photographs but also other Australian and international artists who have explored the landscape from above. John Olsen and Fred Williams are two of the most important Australian artists who have changed the way we look at landscape but our own Indigenous artists also have an instinctive view of country from above.
Eve: Are there any other particular factors that influence your creative practice?
Greg: My training in printmaking and computer technology has strongly influenced my style as a painter and vice versa. I often incorporate digital imaging, etching, stencil and other print methods in to my paintings.
Eve: What is your media of choice?
Greg: I am very experimental so I paint or print on surfaces including aluminium, Japanese rice paper, wood, canvas and European papers. I love incorporating marble dust, ground pumice and raw pigments into traditional acrylic paints and varnishes.
Eve: What are your subject matter of choice? Why so?
Greg: The Australian landscape remains my major preoccupation as the diversity of the desert, coastal and alpine scenery is an endless source of inspiration. Other destinations such as India, The Middle East and Europe have also been the subject of past exhibitions.
Eve: Have you ever worked in any other areas besides working as an artist? If so, what did that work entail?
Greg: My working life has always been involved in either art education or arts management and so that has enriched my experience and knowledge and impacted on my career as an artist in a positive way. I have spent 10 years working with Indigenous artists in remote communities and this too was very inspirational.
Eve: What are you working on at the moment?
Greg: I have deadlines up until late 2024 so it is meeting one commitment after another, a mix of private and corporate commissions, art fairs and solo exhibitions both interstate and overseas. One important aspect of such a schedule is to stay fresh and inspired and not just churn out predictable works for the art market.
Eve: What work, goals or projects do you have in mind for the future?
Greg: My goal is always to keep refining my work so it gets better. I have no shortage of new ideas to explore if, and when, I get a break in deadlines.
Eve: When you work in the studio do you like to play music and if so what is your music of choice?
Greg: I am a big fan of Triple J so I am constantly downloading new artists and music. Before the pandemic I discovered a great Ballarat band called ‘Goldfields’ and as I was working on a series of goldfields landscapes they kept my spirits up during gloomy lockdowns .
Eve: To date, what have been your career highlights as an artist?
Greg: I have been fortunate to enjoy many highs over a long career. These include the usual barometers of winning art awards and artist residencies and having sell-out exhibitions… Sometimes the best highlight, however, is simply to see your work hanging in a beautiful space.
Eve: Do you have any exhibitions or special arts events coming up that you would like to let others know about?
Greg: I am working on a solo exhibition for the Horsham Regional Gallery in December. This will explore the landscape of the Wimmera and feature images inspired by drought, flood and bushfires, all of which produce their own unique beauty in amongst the devastation.
Eve: What would you rate as the biggest challenges in being a professional working artist today?
Greg: The Australian economy with its ups and downs always impacts on consumer spending and the art world has suffered from past recessions and downturns. That will always be an ongoing challenge for any creative industry. Professional artists must today be savvy with social media, bookkeeping, marketing, administration and all aspects of running what is essentially a small business. That is a big challenge to those of us who are happiest with just a paint brush in hand.
Eve: And, for you personally, the greatest rewards?
Greg: Being my own boss and doing what I love is a great reward.