If there is a better way to spend a morning besides having a chat and a cup of tea with artist Gary Collins then you had best keep it to yourself. I wasn't offering much in return but the bonus for Gary was that it kept him from his beloved housework. Still, it beats working for a living.
Gary lives beneath the undergrowth of suburbia with his wife, Jeanette, and two dogs of which one is fostered (and may well become croc fodder if Gary had his way). For the most part Gary spends his time painting landscapes and loading palm fronds onto the trailer. His landscapes have a touch of the surreal about them. Mystical creatures (female mostly, I am lead to believe) dance in and out of the canvas with such subtlty that it's hard to distinguish where the trees and rivers start and the kianpraty-like damsels end.
The studio is unusually poorly lit for what I would have expected. There is little room to move and there is a sense that this man's 'shed' is his own domain. He moves though the thicket of paintings and brushes without effort as he willingly shares his craft with me. You don't need a close inspection to realise the detail Gary includes in his work. His brushes are fine and delicate which is reflected in the brushstrokes that make up his art work.
He works close to his canvas. He knows where everything is. He is well versed in navigating his visual world.
One might be inspired by his abilities as I certainly am. There is also considerable admiration for a person who has had Macular Degeneration since his teens. What inspires me most from my observations is not so much the fact that Gary can produce such beautiful art with or without such restricted vision but his dogged determination to do so. This is clearly a person driven by his own resolve to achieve the extra-ordinary under extra-ordinary conditions. It seems what us mere mortals might consider impossible is simply a task worth conquering.
He's a bit camera shy so we joke through a few frames. He seems pained by the idea of having his photograph taken so I remind him of the times when he painted portraits. He smiles knowingly and for an instant there is the essence of what I want. CLICK!
We throw around some ideas on solving the problems of the world and I leave him to his house cleaning. I've got what I came for. I have a feeling I got a bit more than I bargained for; an old maxim about a man with no shoes comes to mind.