Local Artist: Geoff Taylor from Clovelly
Clovelly artist Geoff Taylor enjoys painting and drawing and has done several works featuring our local area. Geoff was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease (MND) in October 2018 and has since lost the use of his right hand and arm, but has somehow managed to teach himself to paint and draw with his left hand. Geoff actually painted this month’s beautiful cover image with his left hand, and we are grateful for the opportunity to showcase his work.
How long have you lived here? My wife Barb and I moved to our semi in Clifton Road, Clovelly in 1985 and have been here ever since.
Why do you live here? I like to be near the ocean. Clovelly is a relatively quiet place, but still close to everything.
What’s your favourite beach? Probably Coogee, for the swim across the bay or out to Wedding Cake Island. I swam with Randwick & Coogee Amateur Swimming Club at Wylies Baths since the early 1990s and with Coogee Penguins Winter Swimming Club for many years. I used to love bodyboarding at Bronte, and Gordons Bay is a great place for a swim.
What’s your favourite eatery? I have Motor Neurone Disease and cannot swallow, so I am fed via a tube directly into my stomach, but before I got sick we enjoyed going to Pizzavelly and Wet Paint. Pinto Thai was my favourite for takeaway.
Where do you like to have a drink? Again, MND means I can’t swallow, but before COVID-19 we loved going to Starfish Club at the Clovelly Bowling Club each month for great live music. When I could drink I enjoyed their Reschs on tap.
Best and worst thing about the Eastern Suburbs? It’s a shame there are so many cars, but I support the idea of the pop-up pedal park in the Clovelly Beach car park, and widening the footpath on Coogee Bay Road was an improvement. It’d be better if it was just pedestrianised.
How would you describe your art? My art is quite varied. The main groups are Jackson Pollock style, with paint splashed onto the canvas; wood cut outs – as far as I know, no one else does this kind of thing – where I get a sheet of particle board and jigsaw out pieces so the overall shape is understandable, then I varnish the timber; dot paintings, inspired by Australian aboriginal dot painting techniques; watercolours; and pencil and ink sketches.
Where can people see your work? I had an exhibition at Clovelly Bowling Club where most of my works were sold and a further eleven commissioned. I’m putting the finishing touches on the eleventh commission. All money raised went to the Motor Neuron Disease Association of NSW (www.mndnsw.asn.au).
Who are your artistic inspirations? There are many, but the more famous include Paul Cezanne, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Jackson Pollock.
What are you working on at the moment? I’m working on my last commission from the exhibition. It’s an acrylic painting of an ocean swimmer’s view. One of the swimmer’s eyes is in the water so it sees water, and the other sees another swimmer, cliff faces, and ocean surface.
Do you have any exhibitions coming up? Unfortunately, my health is deteriorating fast so I am not up to producing many further works once the commissioned work is complete.
When did you discover you had a gift for your craft? I never thought of it as a gift, it was just something I enjoyed doing. When I was at school I would do sculptures or carve pieces of wood while watching TV. After I left school I’d often have a sketch pad with me. I did my first wood cut in my early teens.
Any other local artists to look out for? A very good friend, Melissa Becker, is a talented Coogee-based professional artist, painter and printmaker. She has taught me a lot about drawing and painting. Nick Hollo is well-known for his distinctive oil pastels of the local coast.
Did you study art? I never studied art formally and I don’t regret it. Art is something I do for my own enjoyment; I do what I want when I want. Over the years I’ve been to a number of evening classes for drawing, painting and sculpture, and I started going to a weekly painting class in The Rocks.
Any words of wisdom for young aspiring artists? Do it because you enjoy it; the more you do the better you will get. If you see something you like, try to sketch it, emphasising the things you like. The sketch is only for you so it can be rough, it just needs to remind you of something you liked. You may never look at it again, but sketching forces you to look at the work in detail and helps you learn a lot from it.