More from the Artist …

For several years now I’ve wanted to create a body of work that would combine my fine art practise of traditional painting, and my love of digital illustration and print design. I felt there must be a way of merging and blending these art forms together to create something new and exciting, something intriguing and maybe even transformational. My training as an artist started in my home town of Perth (Western Australia), where particular methods of print making and creative drawing allowed my work to flourish into a unique aesthetic and style that developed over the years. Beautiful androgynous men with larger than life eyes and vibrant energy chakras became part of my signature style, that would then develop into large scale paintings adorned with hundreds of flowers and reclining avatars bathed in luxuriant colours. My devotion to detail and colour would enhance the spiritual atmosphere of the paintings, and this dedication to my craft would attempt to convey a kind of divinity in the works. Drawing inspiration from Indian mythologies and Symbolist painters, I would create a universe of my very own that was full of possibilities and exotica. There was always this duality forming in my creative mind that loved to draw and paint freehand, yet also embrace and explore the principles of design, so I was able to move easily from one discipline to another and back again.

After completing several large scale commissioned oil paintings for clients, I soon found myself undertaking projects designing artwork for boutique hotels in the UK, and this was a very enriching experience for me at that particular point in my artistic journey of discovery. I always remained true to my vision, and was fortunate that my clients embraced and respected that vision throughout the creative ventures I was involved in.

Designing print for fashion and textiles followed soon after the interior design exploration, and this opened up a whole new world of creative beauty and exciting collaborations in those realms. It lead me to relocate to New Delhi (India), to fully submerge myself in the traditional and contemporary Indian design and textile creations, and this time in India was so pivotal to my artistic world view, that I still use many of the techniques learnt there in my works today. Intricate pattern making, bold colour formations and poetic figurative poses are the core ingredients to my creations. Returning full circle to Australia after many years living in the UK and India was the most natural of all progressions, and I soon started to paint again whilst being submerged in the great Australian landscape. It was this seemingly new beginning that facilitated a crucial time of self reflection in my work, and gave me the opportunity to formulate a means to finally combine all these different artistic worlds together. At the heart of every piece I create is ‘Love’, that radiant emotive response to the world that surrounds and pervades me. To nurture, uphold, and beautify the central avatar is key to the success of the works I create, as they are unashamedly beautiful in a way that is unifying, elegant and mysterious. The aim of the works is to draw you into the image, engaging your imagination with colour and content that enhances and enriches the viewing experience.

These otherworldly beings are envisioned and made manifest to be our own reflections, an apparition of the very best qualities in each of us, a reminder of the divinity within that is so often neglected and forgotten. To expose ourselves as resilient and vibrant beings, yet to embrace that beautiful vulnerability within us is what makes them somehow more accessible and relatable. Of course they are not literal however and don’t exist in some binary world. They are in fact ethereal dreams made manifest, a vivid display of eternal love for our fragile human experience and the natural world that surrounds us.

Stemming from the core belief that we are ancient, sublime, and ripe with the potential to do exceptional things in life, I strive to create a visual world that addresses themes of sexuality and gender as something incredible and extraordinary. Our lived life experience of having to explain and justify ourselves to those that police our minds and physical forms can be exhausting, and uses up much of our precious time in the moment. My work aims to allow the viewer to enter the creation with an open heart and spirit, free of judgement and restraint from the world around us. This new collection of artworks has been fashioned from digital crafting, using hundreds of free to use photographs and images I’ve collected over many years. Textures and patterns from around the world, combined and entwined with glimpses of antique textiles, vintage botanical studies and Persian carpets, these are just a few of the many elements that make up the rich visual language I use to create the narrative for each piece of art. I often take my own photos of the models I use for the central characters in my works, but lately I’ve also been working with multi-angle anatomy poses used for computer gaming. They are fun to work with as the poses are often dynamic, dramatic, and traditionally used in hyper masculine portrayals for the gaming world. I enjoy playing with and subverting those masculine forms, by transforming them into beings of love and light, and luxuriating them beyond all recognition. Sometimes my characters are assembled from several different figures and portraits, there’s a weaving of limbs and facial features required to achieve the desired effects I’m seeking for that personality or persona. Each image is conjured and crafted using multiple layers and individual elements, then worked with in different software packages such as Pixlr, Affinity Photo, and Photoshop amongst others. I always listen to music as I’m working as it opens up the heart and mind to be more courageous, creating the required vibration that can be infused into the works before me.

As the collection grows and the pieces become more sophisticated in their inherent natures, I have been printing them on large canvases and embellishing them with glazes of oil pigments to give them depth and luminosity. A final application provides the unified surface to that glimpse into each realm, and seals in the magic that each realm exists in. There is an ongoing spiritual element running through the whole collection, which is more of an exploration of spirit rather than depicting or conforming to any one religion or ideology. I believe that we are all made of stardust and connected to every living thing made manifest, and that’s enough for me to contemplate and philosophise over. My work can be viewed as a touchstone, a means of travelling to celestial worlds where we can heal wounds using imagination and the power of thought. I invite you to view my work during a five week artist residency and exhibition to be held at Gallery Central (Perth, Western Australia) in April 2022. I will be holding workshops and discussions with the college design and fashion student departments, as well as having an opening night to showcase the curated collection to the public.

Hope to see you there!

With very best wishes,

Philip Shadbolt

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