John Maitland • Splash of Colour • Artist’s Statement – Red Hill Exhibition 2019  

Being an artist, I believe I see things and situations rather differently to most. My work is made at my Gold Coast studio, at Korora, Coffs Harbour and sometimes in the UK. Whilst it is not context specific, the context does affect how I work.

Recently, after being awarded an important commission for an historic Brisbane school, I happened to glance at a print of one of my works which was painted some years ago and, which is now in the collection of Brisbane Catholic Education.  I was immediately captivated by the humble old chair which is depicted in the piece. Although an integral part of the painting, it is simply and quite childishly portrayed. But …it is quite powerful.

I became fixated on it, just an old school chair, it had been around the house for a few years. I decided to honour it by painting it into this new small series called Ballerinas. So, why did I decide to paint a series around an old chair, rough around the edges? Well, contrasted with the beauty of the ballerinas, it has an incredible beauty of its own.

In my latest exhibition I’ve drawn inspiration from a few themes, the ballet, youth and, from one of my favourite series which I have revisited, Sunday School. In the Ballerina paintings most are with the young ballerinas resting after their training, a little exhausted, a little exhilarated and their naivety and frailty clearly shown within the harnessed imperfections of each work.

Another  theme, Sunday School is from a series I did quite a few years back,  it’s simply an excuse to have a lot of fun with paint, children either tumbling out of  or into Sunday School with big sisters and brothers or parents in a suggested vast landscape, with the Sunday School itself nowhere to be found!

In the course of the last few months I also embarked on a series of works for which I have a great affection. In general, the paintings depict youthful figures…female but a younger brother in some, they represent the joy of youth when every day is lots of fun, giggling laughing and just being together in a little huddle…. just the way things should be in an idyllic world.… so important now when pressures on our youth from a number of quarters can make that special time extremely difficult to navigate!!!  They are in truth rather story bookish, and they are meant to be.

A little while ago I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Crescent Heads, a coastal town in NSW. It was exhilarating itself just to watch the fun and joy of adults and children hurtling down the Killick Creek on buggy boards towards the ocean, courtesy of the current as the tide goes out. There the idea for the series was hatched, not to depict sea views, but  just children being children in a range of settings.

I am also looking forward to painting  a response to the recent news stories about the historic Travelling Stock Routes and the drovers who have been moving extraordinary  numbers of cattle down these from North Queensland to Dalby and beyond. Amazing!! I can’t promise anything due to time constraints but keep watching this space!

In conclusion, I’d like to share with you that as I work I move from what appears to be chaos to the finished work. I have an almost ritualistic sequence of physical movement and paint application using flicks and dabs and splashes, building them up, leaving them outside in the elements. There is a cerebral interaction between myself, the painting and the canvas which makes no sense to anyone but me. Eventually, when it is sitting on the easel it makes sense. And with the addition or subtraction of strokes of paint and harmonising of colours like a musical score sheet it will make sense as a completed work of art.


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