Paul Ryan, Illawarra Artist

Paul Ryan, Illawarra Artist

I’m Paul Ryan, I live in Thirroul and we are
currently in my studio. I was born in New Zealand I’ve been in Wollongong from about the age of 8
and have lived in other places on and off briefly but I’ve always come back. I think I first
discovered the northern Illawarra when I was about 15 and I went to a new school and I had school
mates who lived here and I would come up every weekend on the train with my surfbaord and go surfing.
And there was just somthing about coming around the corner from Bull into Thirroul and
you just saw this is escarpement and I knew then it was something very special about
this area and I fell in love with it from that moment. Another important area for
me with painting is portrait painting and also painting about the peoples
of the Illawarra, and the early history the colonial history of the Illawarra. Every year I paint for the Archibald and that’s my main sort of
portrait for the year and this year I’ve been painting Noah Taylor who’s a very well known Australian actor.
He’s also a musician and a visual artist so I met Noah through the gallery I show
with in Sydney Olsen Irwin beacuase
he also shows there and that was my point of
connection with him and turns out that he also liked my work which was nice and
so we’ve since swapped paintings and we’ve met and I’ve photographed him and painted him for the Archibald for this year.
Ever since I was young I I loved drawing I’ve always loved making art and I don’t think
from an early age I really thought that that thought about careers or what you do in
the future. at the age of 22 I went to the
Wollongong university and commenced the Bachelor of Creative Arts degree and once I started that
course and realized how much fun it was and how much I loved making artwork that’s
when I realized that this is the career for me. Bert Flugelman was my sculpture teacher
and his idea of teaching was to go into the sculpture studio and just do his own
work. And every now and then if you really pestered him he’d actually say something about what you’re doing but what he was teaching was really just through showing how he worked and so
you looked at his life in an incredible way his work had developed and
he’d become successful with his work and I think he was a mentor in that way Research isn’t something that you
necessarily do separate to your practice strangely it’s the act of making
work daily and being in here daily for hours and hours and working it’s through that, that ideas
and inspiration come. It’s not something you can go and sit down and manufacture
it comes through it comes through daily life it comes true watching the news it
comes to seeing films or reading great literature or listening to amazing music.
All this feeds in and you often have this sort of bank potential ideas
and sometimes you’ll plant that idead and it will grow into something
and sometimes you attempt to plant it and it just won’t work you need to
be looking for new ways to make work new ideas you need to be challenging yourself. If I’m not
interested, if i’m not getting excited then I cannot expect anyone else to. Surfing for
me does a myriad of things. For a start it out in nature,
in frash air, in the ocean exercising and that alone is brilliant. There’s
something about riding waves catching the energy of the
universe which is particularly special feeling and when I surf this coast I’m constantly looking at the landscape as
well and and the different weather systems in the different light you get at
different times of year and in different weathers and so that actually feeds directly into
the way I paint the landscape and for me what’s interesting about it is the first Europeans
to sail up the coast of Australia that’s what they saw and so in a way that feeds into the narrative and the ideas I have about working
about colonisation as well. An artist is a novelist withn paint basiacally.So you know I paint
about the colonisation of the northern beaches here which there’s actually nothing writen about
between Thirroul and Stanwell theres this great void so I can come in as a visual
artist and extrapolate from other historical events around the country and
I can put all those characters and the landscape together ans as a novelist I
can make my own narrative and that’s the fun of being an artist I think

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