Artist Profile-Hobie Porter

Interview by Jadeine Phelan

The earth is our only home and as a society we really could be doing much more to raise awareness on the environmetal issues we face. Hobie Porter is one of the many talented artists who uses his creative skills to create works of art which makes us question the way we treat our environment. His compelling collections often reveal the parasitic relationships we hold with our planet.

Growing up in a childhood with parents who hold non-comformist values has definitely had a positive influence on artist Hobie Porters’s life and career. Moving from Sydney to the Tweed Valley with his parents at a young age to escape the typical systemized conventional lifestyle proved to be just the developmental change that Porter needed.

Hobie’s paintings are both realistic and surreal. His landscaping could easily pass as a photograph and he does this by using extravagant detail loaded with contrast and bright colour, which provokes and surfaces emotion which is then transformed into thought and contemplation. The surrealism is perfectly placed usually in the centre, making it the main subject and giving the painting the sublime impact that Hobie porter excels at.


So tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am an artist, living & painting  in the Tweed Valley. My work focuses on landscape painting in a contemporary age. My work is engaged with environmentalism, the history of Australian landscape painting and connection to place. I studied at Southern Cross University, Lismore,  and The Pratt Institute, New York. I am represented by Arthouse Gallery, Sydney & Mossgreen Gallery, Melbourne.

What where the highlights of your childhood?

Hanging out in the rainforest & the beach with my friends was wonderful.

 What kind of family lifestyle did you come from?

It was an unconventional childhood & I thrived on that. My parents believed in alternative ideals and so moved from Sydney to the Tweed Valley to build a pole house in the rainforest.  The reasoning was to depart  from the system, and design a life that was more connected to the environment. They realised after a few years that it was difficult living outside of the mainstream completely, so they compromised to a certain extent, and soon dropped back into employment in the visual arts. It was a fantastic lifestyle.

 Currently, what is your favourite place to visit?

I am regularly visiting Tower Hill in South Western Victoria at the moment. I was initially inspired to go there to track down the same site that the colonial painter, Eugene von Guerard had painted 150 years previously.  It is such a special place. I have embarked on a whole painting project dedicated to Tower Hill.

 Tell us about the things that inspire you for your artwork

Painting for me is a giant problem. It is my job to try to work out a path through it. I approach my work with a sense of trepidation and responsibility. I complete my work in the hope that I might  experience a momentary respite. It doesn’t last long.

 What kinds of themes do you pursue?

I think my work would be best described as an attempt at evoking the sublime. I am very interested in our relationship with the environment, and how we pursue the sublime in it. I think this is complicated by our tendency to compromise it environmentally.

 What kind of materials do you use to create your works?

I am an oil painter and work on linen or polyester canvas. I prefer the polyester canvas these days because it is more stable, particularly in terms of fluctuating humidity levels in North-Eastern NSW. Museums are using this material to conserve old paintings on linen, so there is an archival dimension to my choice of materials as well. Polytester canvas is more regular, which I enjoy.  I work with oil paint as a way of referencing our heritage of Australian landscape painting.

 How long does it take to create a piece of art?

It varies. I sometimes have to leave a painting until I have worked out how to resolve it technically or conceptually. This can take a year or more in rare instances. The quickest time I’ve ever taken to complete a work is 2 weeks solid. I am working on larger paintings of Tower Hill at the moment and they are taking me 2 months on average.

 What is your favourite collection of artworks you’ve made?

The collection of works that I like is whatever collection that I’m creating. It changes.  I produced a regional exhibition for the Tweed Regional Gallery in 2009 called Dry Rain. It featured withered & brown leaves falling from the sky. I was responding to the prolonged drought we were experiencing. Ironically, it flooded when the show was on! Never stake your career on the weather.

When was your first exhibition?
My first professional solo show was at the then new Tweed River Art Gallery (now Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre) back in 2005, called Urgent Calm. Gary Corbett was the director who oversaw the building of the Gallery’s construction and shortly thereafter gave me my opportunity to exhibit in this truly wonderful venue.

And about how many solo exhibitions have you done since then?

I’ve had 9 solo exhibitions and am preparing for my 10th in November. I have no idea how many group shows I’ve been involved with.

Can you describe to us how you felt when you won your first award as an artist?

An excited sense of endorsement was the main feeling.

Has your work ever been published in a magazine or book?

Artist Profile, issue 28 has a current story on my work at the moment actually.

Have you ever appeared on television or radio?

I was featured on Painting Australia, an ABC television series, which aired in 2007. That was a truly wonderful experience. I was very fortunate to have my career kick-started in this way.

 Do you like to work with other artists?

I don’t work with other artists. I teach painting at TAFE and so help budding artists with their personal direction, but that’s my limit.

 Is there anyone you would really love to collaborate works with in the future?

Collaboration isn’t the way I currently work. I haven’t thought about it.

Is there anywhere local that we can find your art on display?

There is a work of mine in the Tweed Regional Gallery’s collection. I am told that it is on display when the gallery can steal it away from Mayor Barry Longland’s office wall. Maybe make an appointment with the Mayor?

What role do you think the artist has in society?

It varies from artist to artist. Generally speaking, I think an artist has a certain responsibility to reveal. An artist’s intention should be completely free & uncensored.  It may be enriching, provocative or empowering, but I think an artist should reveal a world to their audience in an intentional way. It must have an impact. I think artists enjoy a certain privilege in society and that this privilege should never be abused- they should keep their egos in check!

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