Well-known artist Geoff Harvey looked no further than the flooded city of Lismore as inspiration for his entry to this year’s prestigious Wynne Prize, awarded to the best landscape painting of Australian scenery, or figure sculpture.
The dramatic work made the final cut – 34 selected from 601 submissions - but in the end was not judged the winner.
Geoff said, ‘I painted this image of the recent floods to help me come to terms with what had just happened to Lismore. My own house was washed away in the surging floodwaters and completely destroyed. Fortunately, no one was hurt as it was vacant at the time.
‘Doing this painting has been a cathartic experience. My heart goes out to all the thousands of people affected by these unprecedented floods throughout Australia, and the hardship they are enduring because of this global warming disaster.’
The work, watercolour pigment with acrylic binder on canvas, measures 90.2 cm x 145.2 cm
As an artist, I enjoy experimenting with different styles,’ Geoff added, ‘one of which is found object sculpture. This came fairly naturally to me, because I come from a family of collectors, who find inspiration in discarded things.
‘In 1985, I held my first exhibition of my found object Dog sculpture and I felt I had developed an artistic expression which was truly me.
‘I later taught myself to work with steel and developed the oxy cut steel silhouette dog that I first exhibiting in Sydney’s annual Sculpture by the Sea at Bondi Beach. This style of sculpture was ideal for the coastal panoramas because it visually reads like strong line drawing in the landscape.
‘I am very fond of all animals and I have sculpted a variety of them, but dogs are my favourite. Perhaps it’s because there are so many shapes, sizes, temperaments and characteristics that I have become so obsessed by them.
‘Or perhaps because I do not have a real dog I am creating surrogate best friends for myself…The dog symbolises unconditional love and companionship which are two characteristics I very much admire. And they are also a symbol of my happy childhood.’
Now Sydney based, Geoff has exhibited widely in Australia, including fifty solo shows. He has won numerous art prizes including 2012 Gallipoli Art Award. His work appears in collections in Australia and internationally, including Art Gallery of NSW, National Gallery of Australia and Parliament House and Lismore Regional Gallery.