Born 1958 in Harringay, London, England Steve moved to Australia with his family in 1967. He studied art at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne and was awarded a travelling scholarship in the early 1980’s and spent approximately eighteen months overseas exploring different methods and varieties of art. He was particularly interested in the hillside sculptures in Dorset and the cultural imagery of maleness through history.
With the use of a video slide show we were introduced to Steve’s artworks based around the Moors Murders in England and criminality centring around child murderers. I found these very confronting and difficult to look at.
During the nineteen eighties a series of works were produced with the central theme of the Rave culture. Around the year 200 large format portraits were based on the gay nightclub scene. Many watercolours using some experimental techniques were produced to give the faces a new expression and life.
Steve seems very keen to strongly get his message through via his art. He is more recently producing artworks, mostly portraits, from photos. These have included reflections on the effects of ageing on the human body and themes he experimented with in the past but has decided to revisit such as witches through history, prejudice and what he called “impossible animals”.
My impression of Steve as an artist was of a man who wants to be as honest with himself and the viewers of his art as possible. He believes in the integrity of his subject and not being “precious” about how he portrays it. He is willing to push and pull at any medium or subject he believes in to create a unique artwork that reflects his view of the world or internal dialogue.
Steve’s artworks, style and methods in comparison to and possibly as an inspiration for my own journey as an emerging professional artist confirmed that I can appreciate the dedication he has and how hard he applies himself to achieving the output that he is happy with. I like his use of watercolours and the portraits he showed of faces were quite moving albeit sometimes very sad.
At this stage in my life and considering my own personal history I can not go to too many violent or negative themes without consequences for my own health. It is an area that at this stage in my life my art is not going to be reflective of. Social or political issues especially where hate, violence or bigotry are involved, whilst appreciating the technical aspects of the artworks do not “connect” with me. I want to take viewers of my art in another direction – on another journey rather than Steve’s. His view of the hillside sculptures led him on a completely different direction than I have taken after learning about them as have my personal studies of archeology, ancient and more recent history which shows how two or more people can look at exactly the same thing and come away with a totally different slant on it or direction to pursue.
My two main lessons from Steve’s presentation were:
1. Be honest with yourself and have integrity in your art.
2. Don’t be precious with your work. It’s OK to experiment and stretch yourself.