Australian writer, poet and musician Mel Irvine living between the Philippine Western Visayas and my home country. Blogging my writing journey through haiku poems and artistic photography.
Richard A. Ward: artist and uncle
I have been back in the Philippines exactly one week now and I simply could not have returned if it weren’t for my Uncle Richard A. Ward.
For many years uncle Richard existed only as a name at the bottom of letters and a faded little girl memory. It seemed very exciting to have an uncle who lived in England and had been to university, but the disdain of youth somehow turned to decades of silence and sadly it took the death of his brother for us to really start to know one another.
Uncle Richard is primarily a musician but he is also an accomplished painter, pipe organist, bell toller and published author. I had no idea of the range of his talents until one afternoon last year, alone in his eclectic house, I began to notice walls of beautiful water colours, crayon drawings and mosaics. Later he would show me through his art works including the materials he uses to teach water colour classes at a local gallery.
This blog has been sitting in draft for months, originally I just wanted to capture these wonderful paintings to share with you. It is more than that now. To read a description of each piece, hover over the image or click inside the gallery to open individual pictures. Also my apologies for somehow deleting my favourite piece: Roman Honeyeater.
‘Tree of Life.’ This is a linoprint (3 colour) done as an exercise for TAFE course. We were supposed to base a work on our ‘tribe.’ I thought Celtic fitted best!
‘The Artist’s Wife,’ after a painting by William Fraser, 1915. I was attracted to this picture because of the light and did it conte pastel on dark paper. I was pleased with delicate light effects achieved with a minimal amount of pigment.
‘Jean Sibelius aged 84,’ based on the 1959 black and white photo by Yousof Karsh, using conte in burnt and raw umber. I have always loved the music of Sibelius and the deep feelings of wintry landscapes portrayed. What a great face for drawing!
‘Sean O’Casey,’ based on the 1964 photo by Gjon Mili. I was attracted to the light in this photo and the intensity of colour which I tried to emulate using many layers of oil pastel. Sean O’Casey was an Irish playwright.
‘Sandy’, or ‘Il pensiero.’ Sandy had been our model at life drawing class and I enjoyed drawing him. Used one of the sketches to do this portrait in oils, using very thick paint, applied with a credit card!
Signature of the artist
Art supplies gathered for teaching watercolour technique
Esther is an Aboriginal woman who was one of my first TAFE students back in 1987. She is also a poet and has had some of her poems printed. I used thick acrylic paint applied with a card to get a feeling for her character.
Esther overlaid onto art.
Angus is the grandson of Lesley the teacher for Saturday life drawing class. I thought he looked a bit like a street urchin in this pose!
Destruction of the Environment. We had to do a silk screen print for TAFE using at least three colour stages. The print did not turn out as intended because the masking fluid didn’t work properly. However, I thought the result was quite interesting and perhaps does reflect what is happening to the environment!
Pumpkins print. This was done for TAFE class overprinting soft ‘lino’ cuts and different colours to create a design.
‘Linda’ was our model for life drawing class, dressed in her swimming costume. As she lay on the banana chair she became so relaxed that she fell asleep. Her face has a lot of character which I tried to portray.
For many years Richard Ward was the head teacher at the Inverell TAFE (check out this old clipping I found amongst mum’s stuff). I also found out from another clipping that he was the recipient of a commonwealth scholarship while in high school. I was a bit impressed actually.
This post is only an introduction to an extremely talented individual and I don’t think in any way represents the full range of his achievements. Perhaps one day he’ll exhibit some of his art in a gallery and start that blog on all those historic characters he has been researching. And that truly is another story.