You’ve probably stopped to appreciate artist Josh Foley’s work a number of times as you’ve walked through Launceston.
From the vibrant mural outside the Animal Medical Centre to the homage to Pulp Fiction within the walls of Burger Junkie.
The best thing is you don’t even have to be a lover of art to stand and appreciate the detail, colour and the time spent working on these creations.
For Josh, these public works were the result of more than a decade of hard work, getting his name out their, reaping the rewards with the pitfalls and gathering some pretty impressive accolades along the way.
“Art was always something I was doing growing up, but I didn’t start painting until I was 15,” Josh said.
“My friend's parents had a book on Australian artist Brett Whiteley, which I found interesting and drew a lot of inspiration from early on.
“It was a natural progression for me to attend art school after college, I never really questioned that, it was the logical thing to do.
“I’ve pretty much been working ever since.”
Josh holds a Bachelor of Contemporary Art (honours) from the University of Tasmania and has been exhibiting since 2002.
His works have featured in galleries throughout Australia, as well as in major collections, including the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Monash University and State Library of Victoria.
Not only has he won the Glover Prize, but Foley also took home the Tasmanian Art Award in 2014, and was a finalist in the 2010 RACT Portrait Prize.
“The Glover Prize was a big one for me, that was almost eight years ago, and things just took off,” Josh said.
“I started to get some public art commissions, and they were a great experience, once you have done one it is a great example of what you can do.
“I did a couple around Launceston, and then that cumulated with being offered a large scale project at Taroona high school.”
Josh completed the International Orange mural on the walls of Taroona High School in 2015. The school is located on the banks of the Derwent River with the theme of the mural inspired by the rivers movement, fluidity and reflection.
“Taroona stands out in my mind as a big achievement both artistically and logistically,” Josh said.
“It was art on a grand scale, working with scaffolding around a four storey building stretched my abilities, but I always put 100 per cent into all of my work.”
Speaking of other public works that he has completed Josh said:
“I’m interested in exploring that type of work as it is completely different to being in a studio,” he said.
“It is great to get different responses from people passing by, and they really get something out of it.”
Josh said much of his work was about letting his audience make up their minds about what they are seeing.
“I like people to have their interpretation, at the base level I just want them to be stimulated in some way,” he said.
“They don’t necessarily have to like what I do, but it's nice to have some effect or impact on them with my art.”
Currently, Josh is spending some time in the studio, getting back to basics and simplifying how he works.
“I’m working on a landscape that takes in the view from my back door, its something pretty simple and something of a revelation as I had planned to do this complicated image and realised it's not what I should be doing so I’m trying to simplify things somewhat in the studio,” Josh said.
Taking time to reflect in the studio has given Josh a new inspiration to draw from and some words of advice for others looking to simplify things, whether in their art, work or life.
“I’ve always been interested in the depiction of relief space and my perception, but I’ve gone from the subject matter being abstract or even contrived to realise that I want to paint what’s around me.
“I’m starting to draw on my emotions more rather than being overly intellectual.
“I think taking a step back is important and I would encourage everyone to take time to reflect and focus on what they want to do in their heart, and if it doesn’t seem or feel simple, then it’s probably not worth it.
“That can apply for artwork, other work and for life, a little cliche but sometimes a good reminder to have.”
You can see Josh’s current exhibition at Stillwater until October.
For more information about Josh Foley and his upcoming exhibitions, go to joshfoley.com.au.
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