Art has always been an essential part of my life and my environment. Growing up, I was surrounded by my Father’s paintings and drawings (Peter Benjamin Graham) that were as familiar to me as friends and family. Naturally the making of Art works became an integral and necessary part of everyday life, and by the time of my Father’s passing in 1987, I had resolved to become an artist and began my own creative journey. My pictures have in turn been inspired by the environment, emotions and events that have shaped my life.
When my brother Phillip formed the experimental performance art group ‘Extended Vision’, a vehical to Continue the work of our Father, I was quick to sign on. This group Pioneerd a new concept in visual art called ‘New Epoch Notation painting’, enabling an artist to ‘compose’ a painting using a special language of symbols to form a score. Performers then interpret this score, much as musicians use a score for a performance. With ‘Extended vision’ I participated in public performances in over 100 venues, including the Mornington Peninsula Art Centre, the National Gallery of Victoria and Heide park and gallery, between 1987 – 1993. Audience members were encouraged to participate in the painting process and many ranging from 5 – 75 years of age enjoyed their first exploration into the artistic process.
After finishing formal study at Monash University,(B.A Fine Art) in 1993, my family established a home in the small hamlet of Newstead in central Victoria (close to the thriving arts community of Castlemaine), were we lived for 10 years developing a cottage craft industry to survive. I specialised in machine knitting using the finest quality Australian Marino yarns. This was a time of dedicated painting and exhibiting for me, immersed in the imagery of dry paddocks, sheep remains and the hungry country of the central Victorian goldfields.
My life took another dramatic turn when I met my life’s partner Catherine Jean-Krista in 2002. The pursuing years have been a time of enormous change and discovery bringing my paintings into a more domestic heartland as we have created a family of four children. My aim in these works is to make vivid connections between the way I’m feeling and what I’m seeing. I try to imbue objects with the emotional resonance of the moment, and in this way, it is the richness of life that is my subject. I’ve always been drawn toward small things that may indicate a deeper significance. Many of the paintings are symbolic, although I try to avoid esoteric meaning. It has always been important to me to build a narrative that can help draw people into the life of the picture. In paintings such as ‘The Pram’ and ‘The Umbrella’ postcards or windows are inset containing vignettes or some significant fragment, in order to help the creation of a narrative. At times, the paintings include snippets of poetry or thought. ‘The Rocking Horse’ contains lines from Ride a Cock Horse in the shadow of a moon. Out of nebulous feelings emerge fragments of conscious thought or detail – the most tangible representation of much larger and seemingly incomprehensible emotion – becoming a Father.
Most recently, I have turned to the streets to exhibit my pictures, adopting Canberra’s bus stops as a surface for my paste-ups. This is a direction not only born of my growing frustration with the ‘Gallery Scene”, but also one which reprises my formative experiences performing “New Epoch” paintings in the streets and parks of Melbourne.
Street art is often political and provocative in its nature, and the topic of “boat People” in Australia has become one of the most hotly debated and divisive issues of the last decade. My paste-ups have led me to explore the topic further, producing a large body of work utilising the techniques of the street artist – stencils and spray enamel paint in conjunction with more traditional mediums.
An important aspect that has had a profound impact on what I paint is the correlation between my role as a parent and my work as a disability support officer.
This symmetry in duty of care, has underpinned much of my life, whether painting with a baby on my lap fixated with my mark making; watching a game of Boccia during a humid Brisbane thunderstorm; weaving through scattered toys, the results of explorations on the carpet and the chaotic rhythm of play, or sharing the joys of creation with the clients I work with.
Born Melbourne 1972
Graduate of a Bachelor of Arts (Fine Art) Monash University in 1993, where my principal tutors were Wendy Stavrianos and Andrew Sibley.
Graduate Diploma of Secondary Education 2008 (Studies suspended, 2 units to complete.)
I recieved Classical training in Violin for 10 years under Jean Lehmann and am self taught on guitar. I Continue to write and record my own songs and sound scapes completing over 20 cd’s of original music since 1992. Contributed sound track to short movie ‘Junction’ by Scott Alexander 2000, and a documentary on the development of New Epoch Art in the same year.
Member of experimental performance art group ‘Extended Vision’. 1987 to present.
Artist in residence at the Moorooka Day service in Brisbane for the Cerebral Palsy League of Queensland 2004/ 2005.
Self-employed small business operator in textile design and manufacture, supplying a range of retail outlets from markets to gallery shops such as Craft Victoria, in a range of woollen products including award winning ‘Matilda’ jackets, scarves and beanies, blankets and Poncho’s.
Represented in The Australian National Gallery Print Collection and in Private collections in London, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and the ACT.
Key Achievements and Exhibitions.
“New Epoch Art” Exhibition at the Belconnen Arts Centre 2012
Exhibition and performance with Extended Vision for the Melbourne Fringe Festival at Gas Works Art Park 2010.
Exhibition with Baden Johnson at the Walker St gallery 2010
Exhibition and performance at the Charles Smith gallery, Fitzroy in conjunction with the Melbourne Fringe Festival 2009
“Underconstumbolism” Hands On Gallery, South Bank, Brisbane 2005. Featuring collaborative Paintings with clients of the Moorooka Day Service.
First Prize for the “Unmet Needs” Social Justice Conference 2004 Poster Competition in Brisbane. Poster designed and conceived collaboratively with clients of the Cerebral Palsy League of Queensland. Statements and stories embodied in the work were a direct expression of the clients’ own concerns and needs.
Awarded Honourable Mention for ‘Bird in the Bush’ at the ‘Mumunya festival’, Castlemaine – 2003.
Australian Sheep and Wool Show, Bendigo; Second prize in Machine Knitting for Design & Manufacture of hand made art jacket; Selected for Fashion Parade – 2003.
‘Woodlands and Wastelands’ with Baden Johnson, Charles Smith Gallery, Melbourne, 2000. Exhibition of landscape paintings exploring the sheep paddocks and remnant bush of central Victoria.
‘Hungry Country’ Solo exhibition of Newstead abstracted mythic, poetic landscapes at ‘Art House’ for the Castlemaine State Festival, 1999
Wallace Brothers Gallery, Castlemaine, for the Inaugural ‘Mumunya Festival’ Celebrating the remnant box iron bark forests of Central Victoria, 1999
Australia Felix Easter Arts Festival, Benalla. 1998 also 1997 ‘Newstead Paintings and Drawings’ Large solo showing of Central Victorian Landscapes, a graphic study, reflecting the harshness of the Australian bush.
Invited to contribute monoprints in the ‘Contemporary Printmakers from the Mount Alexander Shire’ exhibition, Castlemaine Art Gallery – 1997.
‘Hideaway’ solo exhibition of paintings as part of ‘Art House’ for the Castlemaine State festival, November 1996
‘The Inside Place’ Solo exhibition at Tog’s Other Place Gallery 1996, Castlemaine., featuring mono prints made at the Australian Print workshop. The series was an exploration into life style and the interior environment, both psychological and physical.
Awarded the Inaugural Preshil School Arts Honorarium. 1996. Contributed work titled The After Hours to a limited edition folio of lithographs with leading Australian artists Mirka Mora, Dale Hickey, Katherine Hattam and Stephen Bram, each artist working with master printer Martin King at the Australian Print Workshop, Fitzroy Melbourne. This folio was exhibited at the Print Workshops gallery in Gertrude St, and at the William Mora gallery in Flinders lane, Melbourne and Preshil printed a limited series edition for sale of the collected folio – The folio is now part of the Print collection in the Australian National gallery.
James Farrell Self Portrait competition, Castlemaine Art Gallery, awarded honourable Mention for ‘Portrait of a Young Man as an Artist’ – 1995.
Inside Place Paintings’ Large solo exhibition of paintings as part of ‘Art House’ for the Castlemaine State festival, November 1996.
‘Neighbourhood Watch’ Tog’s Other Place Gallery, Castlemaine. First major one-man show with paintings and drawings of suburban environments, 1995.
Charles Nodrum Gallery, Richmond ‘19’ Final year students exhibition; Contributing ‘Above the Snow Line,’ 1994
Art Around Town” installation and demonstration of New Epoch Action Painting with ‘Extended Vision’’ featuring the rehearsal of my most recent compositions, ‘Tempest’ and ‘Transitions’. Shop front Collins Street, Melbourne, 1993.
‘Hidden Imagination festival’ with Extended Vision, showcasing performance art in the ‘Great Hall’ of the National Gallery of Victoria. Trio Performance of ‘Life in the Garden,’ 1992.
Mornington Peninsula Art Centre, Performance and exhibition as part of the ‘Street Art/ Gallery Art’ festival, 1992.
‘No Vacancy’ Collins Street shop front with Philip Mitchell Graham showing the ‘Life in the Garden’ series, 1992.
‘New Epoch Experience’ Exhibition and performance held at ‘Hartwell House’ Canterbury, A multi media event featuring the signing of the New Epoch Manifesto. 1992
Extended Vision Performance at the 10th anniversary celebrations at Heide Park and Gallery, featuring a specially composed score ‘A Maypole for Heide’ – December 1991.
Exhibition of New Epoch paintings and collaborative ‘Visual Jazz’ pieces at the Lyttleton Gallery, North Melbourne, with Philip Mitchell Graham and Juan Sanz, 1991.
Melbourne Fringe Arts Festival – Large exhibition of paintings and drawings, and Demonstrations of ‘Visual Jazz’ performance painting at the ‘Peoples Improvisational Theatre’ , Richmond, as part of the ‘Spontaneous Generation’ co-coordinated by Al Wonder and Warren Burt – September 1990.
Mondo Showrooms, First exhibition of drawings and paintings with Phillip Mitchell Graham. 1989
Exhibition and performance at the Hut Gallery, Ferntree Gully, 1988.
Roar 2 Studios 3 weekends of performances in conjunction with a major retrospective of the paintings and drawings by Peter Benjamin Graham, curated by Jan Martin, 1988
Participated in regular council run community arts festivals with Extended Vision, employed by the cities of Camberwell; Malvern; Collingwood; and Heidelberg, 1988-1993.