Frank Howard has been an enthusiastic admirer of art from a young age. Since picking up the brush, he has sought to convey his impressions of reality through his paintings. We find out about his latest exhibition.
> How did you first become interested in painting?
Visiting the Art Gallery of NSW as a 10 year old, being for some reason struck by Tom Roberts’ ‘Bailed Up’ … I’m not sure whether it was the bushranger thing, the composition of the painting, the grasp of Australian landscape or what, but I was hooked.
For many years after that I was a gallery junkie – always looking and occasionally buying – and it was only later in life that the opportunity for painting presented itself, beginning at Julia Hardman’s in Arding and continuing through evening classes at TAFE.
This opportunity sadly no longer exists, as TAFE Armidale has made the short sighted decision to withdraw art evening classes from the curriculum in Armidale from this year – which is ironic, considering that Armidale sees itself as a city of the Arts.
> What materials do you prefer to work with?
Generally I begin to work with a series of charcoal drawings and sketches, which lead into water colour sketches ‘on site’. In the process that follows back in the studio. I work in soft pastels on paper, water colours and oils.
> Why did you choose to exhibit at Gallery 126?
Anne and Stuart Boggs have long sought to support artists in the district. Their Gallery 126 is one area of support, and this has given numerous artists the opportunity to exhibit. I had my first solo exhibition in late 2007, and I feel privileged to again be given the opportunity to showcase my works.
> What can we expect to see at your exhibition?
This exhibition is my impression of Metz Gorge.
Artists search for truth in themselves in reflecting what they see – some accuse me of dark and gloomy work, although I would argue that not all my work is dark!
The reality is, that in spite of so much inherent beauty in the created world, there is underlying menace, gloom, destruction and death – a reality which is always present, always confronting us and which we might like to brush (pardon the pun!) aside.
How do I deal with that reality? Do I pretend that all is beautiful and paint something that reflects that? Or do I pursue what lies lurking beneath?
I am not seeking to provide new answers – the Creator does that – I just want the question to be put out there.
> Which artists inspire you?
To single out any artists is not easy, as many (if not all) you come into contact with have an influence, be it positive or negative. Subconsciously I may not even be aware of a particular influence until I can see it on the canvas I’m working on.
Recently I have been looking at Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Sean Skully and John Virtue.
Of Australian artists, the Heidelberg School – in particular Arthur Streeton and Tom Roberts – and the continuum through Lloyd Rees, Fred Williams and Ian Fairweather among others have been a wonderful source of inspiration, as are the collections at NERAM.
Local Artist Ross Laurie is an encouraging, honest mentor, to whom I am, and always will be deeply indebted to.
> Exhibition dates?
The exhibition opens on Friday, the 29th of January from 5pm – 7pm and continues during business hours, Tuesday – Friday 8.30am – 5.30pm and Saturday 9am – 1pm until the 27th of February.
> Thank you Frank.