COMING HOME: Artist Robert Ryan at the Barebones Art Space.
COMING HOME: Artist Robert Ryan at the Barebones Art Space. Cathy Adams

Artist drawn back to Byron

AFTER 18 months living and painting in a shack at Brooms Head painter and printmaker Robert Ryan has returned to Byron Shire.

He arrives back with a new-found respect for locals living with the challenges exerted on the shire by mass tourism.

"I see how tolerant the locals have remained with all that has changed here in such a short space of time," Mr Ryan said.

"It's still so friendly here even with all the pressure on the town.

"The people of Byron Shire should be very proud of themselves."

Mr Ryan is preparing for his next major exhibition, Back to Byron, at Anthea Polsen Art on the Gold Coast in July.

"Sometimes being away can be so refreshing," Mr Ryan said.

"Brooms Head is beautiful in an arid South Australian kind of way whereas Byron's beauty is just so lush and green."

Over the years Mr Ryan has lived and worked in places as diverse as Dublin, Milan, South Africa, Sumatra and the Maldives.

He is a veteran of at least 25 solo shows with his work represented in many galleries including the UK Microsoft Collection, the Bailey's Art Collection in Dublin, the Gold Coast City Art gallery, the Tweed Regional Art gallery and the James Packer Collection.

"I have always painted and drawn, it was the only thing I could do to any great effect," Mr Ryan said.

Originally from South Australia, he only returned to formal study at the North Adelaide School of Art at the age of 25.

"I was working in a demolition job in London at the time and went to an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum," he said.

"I had a kind of epiphany there and high-tailed it back to South Australia to study printmaking and learn how to paint."

Mr Ryan has always maintained a small printmaking studio in Bangalow and his print works are much sought after.

His printmaking skills also shine through in his paintings.

"Printmaking is still a strong part of my practice and I actually do paint like a printmaker with the layering of colours and then editing back into the patterns.

"With printmaking you have to think at least 10 steps ahead because you can't work straight over the top of a layer.

"So when I set out to make a work it isn't until about halfway through that I can tell what is needed to finish the painting."

For more of Robert Ryans work go to: barebonesartspace.com.au



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