STORY AND IMAGES BY RICHARD CORNISH
Wife and husband Karan Hayman and Mark Howson are both successful modern artists living on a beautiful property on the edge of Kyneton looking out over the town towards Mount Macedon. They have both been influential in the Melbourne scene of the late 20th century being founding members of ROAR Studios, an artist collective where emerging Melbourne artists could paint and show their work. Well-known painters such as David Larwill and Sarah Faulkner were some of the artists who benefitted from ROAR Studios. It was based in a building owned by Karan’s mother, Eve Hayman, the patron offering an extremely generous 30-year lease. Both Karan and Mark have had work acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria and both paint abstract landscapes. Yet they see the world through very different eyes.
Their studios are in adjacent and identical, sitting side by side. Their boomerang shaped house was once home to spinster sisters. They had equal, but separate wings of the same home and the garages are where the two homes joined. Karan and Mark both love their home, surrounded by paddocks, home to an entourage of horses, alpacas and a few odd sheep. This for them is a bit of a homecoming. In their very earlier days, they lived in this region using shearing sheds as cheap, light-filled studios.
In Karan’s studio hangs a landscape. It depicts three headlands, they are whale blue, the sea underneath marked out by short brushstrokes that border on pointillism. The sky above is teaming with curvaceous vertical lines of perhaps incoming cloud and rain. Underneath are red and yellow strokes that could be the synclines and anticlines of the earth beneath. Karan reveals that she spent a great deal of time on the Great Ocean Road as a child as her grandparents had a place at Point Roadknight. “This was a scene I had seen many times,” she says. “And many times, I imagined what forces made this landscape happen.” I prod her for more words to describe her art. None are forthcoming. She is an artist who lets her work speak for itself. She admits she deplores artists’ statements.
In Mark’s studio next door, there are large canvasses covered in rounded symbolic shapes with sharp delineation between subject and background. To describe Mark’s work as graphic art would be to miss the point of his masterly use of brush and paint to create solid shapes in colours with texture and nuance. Mark paints what he sees around him - trees, dams, sheds, mountains. While there is a nod towards the art of the mid 20th century, Mark’s works are beautifully synthesised versions of the landscape around him that have a sense of playful novelty about them.
Karan and Mark’s studios are open to the public by appointment. Email email@example.com