HONEY MAGAZINE : LIFESTYLE
【CANVAS ON THE WAVE】HONEYが気になるあの人にQ&A／パームツリーの光と影「Desmond Sweeney」Q&A for those who are interested in HONEY / Light and shadow of palm tree. A new series of Q&A that asks questions to people who are interested in HONEY, such as domestic and foreign attention surfers and up-and-coming artists. Find your favorite surfer here, or find your favorite artist. [translated from japanese]
Desmond Sweeney from Australia will be introduced for the first time. An artist who realistically depicts the beach where palm trees sway beside the perfect waves. It is strange because it is a beautiful landscape painting like utopia, but it also evokes a feeling of loneliness and nostalgia. I was able to take a peek inside his head, which creates unique works that also feel the essence of Asia. WORDS BY Alice Kazama.
Tell us about yourself.
My parents moved from Scotland to Australia in the '60s and I was born in the '70s in the Northern Beaches [of Sydney] I lived near some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but for some reason my family wasn't interested in that kind of environment, and I was the only one who always went to the beach.
I started surfing when I entered high school, so it's been over 30 years now. It's been over 20 years since I started working as an Artist. His wife, Dee, is Australian-Chinese, grew up in Western Australia and we now live in Fremantle in WA. The kids are Rafa Rose, a five and a half year old girl, a two year old boy, Beau Sunray, and another, Kawa Leaf, who crossed the Rainbow Bridge and became an angel. I also have a Labrador and her name is Nami. My wife lived in Japan in her early 20's, as you can see from Kawa [river] and Nami [wave] we like Japanese names.
Please tell us about your daily life.
I wake up at 5 o'clock to feed Nami. Nami is a 6 month old black Lab and is very energetic. I take Nami to the beach in turn with my wife Dee, or walk to the nearby Swan River.
On days when children get up early, it's their daily routine to get in a car, go to the beach, swim, walk, and enjoy coffee. Kids just learned to paddle and ride the waves on a softboard this summer.
After sending Rafa to school, I will take turns working or looking after my two-year-old son. Dee is a creative and stylist. She just published her first photo book "Love is". I have a studio at home, but I go to the Fremantle Art Centre two times a week to teach painting & life drawing and go to various places to paint murals.
You can feel the eco-friendly lifestyle in harmony with nature from the photos.
I agree. A few years ago, when we renovated our home, we made a big decision to introduce a solar system. Western Australia is always sunny, so there's little need to buy additional energy. The garden is also full of native plants that require little water. In a little while, we plan to introduce recycled water and rainwater tanks for the veggie garden.
I sold my VW van two years ago and now we share one car, but in Australia it's extremely rare for a family to have one car [laughs]. Thanks to this, I have more opportunities to walk and ride bicycles with my children. It may be said that such a place is also an eco-friendly life.
What kind of place is your home spot?
Leighton in North Fremantle is a local spot, which has small waves and is perfect for beginners and kids. So sometimes I go to North to Trigg Beach. If you go 3 hours 'Down South' you will find world class surf spots such as Yallingup and Margaret River, and the waves are always the best. The good waves of a powerful reef break. I try to go there on holidays and weekends to surf and stay with friends.
What kind of board are you on?
My favorite for big waves and barrel waves is a Keyo custom 6'6'single fin. If the waves are perfect, I definitely choose this board. If you enjoy surfing at home, Christenson's 5' 10 ”twin fins. It's voluminous and very loose. I'm 6'3 cm tall, so its pretty small. When surfing with kids, we bring out a 5'6 "super wide softboard.
How does surfing affect your art?
Surfing is everything to me and I think it adds depth to my life. I started surfing in the late '80s and was fascinated by the images, photographs, music and magazines of that time. Northern Beaches, where I grew up, is an environment with world champion surfers, famous shapers, and excellent airbrush artists. In the late '90s, I also started airbrushing surfboards, painting murals, and immersing myself in motorcycles and clothes. Compared to those days, the euphoria of culture has decreased, and I have more contact with the sea itself. I look at myself through surfing and cherish my soul experience.
Tell us about your art.
In the fantasy seascape, there are many works that are conscious of Yin and Yang (In Yang = Everything, the Chinese idea that everything can be divided into Yin and Yang). It expresses the truth of light and shadow, and the quiet darkness behind the joy of deception hidden in the palm tree.
Your art is an island vibe, but it also feels like silence, loneliness and nostalgia.
I'm glad to hear you mention about loneliness and nostalgia. I try to infuse this balance of yin and yang into my landscape-themed works. When we moved to the West Coast, we had just lost our 4-year-old daughter, Kawa Leaf, and we were in the depths of our heavy sorrow.
Since she was a baby, she would often look into my studio and ask for more flowers and waves in my paintings. After she passed, painting on bamboo blinds became an important time to heal from deep sorrow. I imposed a project on myself to produce 12 blind series over a year, and overcame such a difficult time.
This nostalgia comes from her memory. When I dream or think of her, it's like a series of photos, and the flashbacks of the fun memories aren't colorful at all, they're somehow faded, timeless, and at the same time very beautiful.
Thank you for your valuable story. Knowing the background will change the way you look at your work, and it will make it feel more beautiful.
Is there a way to buy your art from Japan?
I ship overseas on my website. We often ship to Hawaii, California, New York, New Zealand and the UK, we have collectors in New Caledonia, and we have also sent to Japan. I can predict that it will be so, but most of the collectors in the world seem to live by the sea.
What are your next goals?
For the first big solo exhibition in Western Australia, I would like to work on a collection of canvases of various sizes. I look forward to expanding the wings of my work in the future.