Artist Profile

JOHN FIRTH-SMITH

“ A welcoming host, he is immensely energetic, discussing people, the art world, his travels, the cottage, the area’s history, the village and local people.

IT’S A LONG DRIVE WEST FROM SYDNEY. THE architecture along the Blue Mountains ridge seems designed to obscure their majesty, there’s no visual pleasure on the route to the outskirts of Bathurst. Of course the distance from the distractions of urban life has enticed many artists to Hill End, most notably Donald Friend and Tas Drysdale, in the 1940s and ’50s. But John Firth-Smith?

Firth-Smith is an abstract painter of expansive meditations in space, shapes reminiscent of boats and shorelines and objects on and around the littoral zone, remembering the edges of waves, their height, wide expanses of canvas: images and abstraction from the sea and sailing; line, edge, curve, balance. They suggest emotion and play with theory. His ambiguous imagery renders a stretch of paint as rope, as foam, as the reflection of the moon; and as a play of texture or an idea about shape, on layered ground.

With critical notice since 1961, commercial success, exhibitions nationally and internationally, he has won many prizes, he’s in every major national collection. And to interview him Artist Profile is travelling to Hill End.

On through marginal sheep country. There are no revelatory broad vistas

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