Man of Colours
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY RICHARD CORNISH
Artist John Lloyd sits in a stuffed leather chair under one of his landscapes. Wide as his outstretched arms, the oil on the canvas painting portrays a local but imaginary landscape.
It seems like a typical Kyneton or Daylesford farm scene in winter. A green paddock sits under a dark and brooding sky filled with low menacing clouds. A tractor track cuts a dark dual path towards a lone pine sitting in the middle of the paddock. Called Sidetrack, in it John has captured the nature of the winter light that floods central Victoria in winter. Gold and metallic yet soft and ethereal.
“It’s a bit like me,” says John with a cheeky style. “Dark and moody.” He brings out another painting. This is a square landscape of rolling hills covered in a patchwork of different coloured fields. It is bright, happy, fantastical. “The work I do is inspired by the land around us here,” he says. “But it all comes from my imagination.” His studio on Piper Street in Kyneton is also his gallery. Large landscapes hang from the walls while postcard size works are stacked up on the steps of an old ladder. The pleasant smell of fresh artist’s paint and linseed oil hang in the air.
John has been living in Kyneton for a decade now. He was born in Hobart, grew up in Sandy Bay and went to art school on the slopes of Mount Nelson. “I sort of fell into art school,” he says. He shared a house in North Hobart with now renowned Tasmanian bush landscape artist David Keeling and partied hard. “But music was my first love,” says John.
He moved to Melbourne and joined a band called The Highrise Bombers with a young singer / song writer who had just come from Adelaide called Paul Kelly. John continued to drum with Paul in his next band Paul Kelly and the Dots. John left Melbourne for Sydney and joined a band called The Flowers who later renamed themselves Icehouse.
John played and toured with the band for five years leaving them to join the long list of Icehouse alumni. “I was a bit disillusioned,” he admits. “Touring wasn’t for me.”
Moving to Byron Bay he wrote music and played as a session musician in recording studios there. But he found himself lost. One day he picked up a pack of pastel pencils he had been carrying with him for years and started drawing. “It flicked a switch in me,” he says with a smile. A local gallery took some of his moonlit landscapes, all dark Prussian blue and indigo. “I went away to Brisbane for a week and when I came back, they had all sold,” he says.
John’s life changed, moving from music to art. He started working with a gallery in Richmond who represented him. In 2009 he bought an old shop in the Kyneton and moved into town.
John listens to music as he works. He moves between the likes of Pink Floyd’s How I Wish You Were Here and Africa’s answer to James Brown, Fela Kuti. He breaks from painting at his easel when customers walk in the door. You can see the delight on his face when people engage with his paintings. “People connect with a piece and just to have it,” he says. “Which really makes me happy.”
John Lloyd Gallery, 48 Piper Street; johnlloydgallery.com.au