Saturday, 15 February - Sunday, 23 February
THE SACRED AND THE PROFANE
Andrew Hyde - a retrospective
“My love of painting was initially sparked by visiting museums in the Netherlands as a child. The relentless passion of Van Gogh in particular. I dabbled with my own painting in my twenties but it was not until after I moved to Esperance that I began to work regularly.
The forms and light here are of continuous fascination to me. Space, the hum of atmosphere, the affirmation and negation of shoreline and horizon pose questions that prod the artist towards investigation and meditation.”
(Andrew Hyde, from Artist’s Statement for group ex’n Bush to Beach Bohemians with Dewi Hyde and Larry Youngson, Esperance, January 2008.)
“wake up, the rest will settle, the day will be the poem” (Andrew Hyde, 30 April, 2008.)
Visual artist, intellectual, writer, philosopher, poet and fisherman - Andy was a brilliant, highly original thinker whose insight and imagination transcended dogma and limitations.
It is easy to understand his great love for children, sharing the curiosity and playful creativity typical of the emerging child, less straightforward to understand his complicated life and death. These are inextricably linked to being the youngest in a family of nine children and himself ‘losing’ a daughter when he was just 18 years old and still at school. It was a rarely mentioned trauma that affected him deeply for the rest of his life.
Andrew was always a very funny person, hilarious when in good form, and this was obvious in much of his writing and visual expression as well as social relations. He wrote a poem for Anthony, a close Melbourne friend, when he heard he had died that illustrates the persistence of this humour, even in such sadness.
“there’s some doubt as to the truth of this
but the rumour is a piano fell right on top of his head
what a melbourne tram‘s rail and steel
couldn’t manage a needle could. and so he’s dead.
is he gone he was always playing these tricks?
This is a little how I felt first arriving at Andy’s house in response to a message that he was dead on the morning after it was sent. This poem was in his old typewriter on his desk in ‘the blue room’, his study. Was he gone? His humour remains in many works, especially sketches and cartoons he enjoyed making with and for children, notably the Charlie’s Alphabet series, Mr Bolo and many of his short stories.
His was a restless spirit that blazed like a meteor through the many passions and experiences he lived, mostly marginalised for various reasons yet enduring with breathtaking intensity, integrity and acuity.
His restlessness fuelled his curiosity and although well schooled in Australia and Holland Andrew never seriously pursued tertiary education. He was an autodidact who preferred to read, research, develop and practise his skills as interest directed and alongside chosen peers. He was a prolific and perspicacious reader both for pleasure and learning and this was foundational in his remarkable critical thinking, perceptions, and self expression.
These shone brightly in his paintings and poems. Poetry and visual art were lifelong obsessions and Andrew developed unique languages in these forms. Diverse in style, media, technique and subject matter, his oeuvre taken as a whole is an incredibly articulate, powerful and elegant expression, a valuable life’s work. Only in gathering the material for this exhibition am I fully able to appreciate this, until now much of it was scattered work and incomplete memories.
The complicated nexus of addiction and self doubt also prevented Andrew from realising this and ‘success’ as a writer and artist - the kind of success that may have allowed him a more comfortable life and unrestricted access to tools and materials to produce work. His outsider status did however suit his identity and allowed him to maintain his fierce independence of thought and expression. Towards the end of his life anxiety, poverty and self doubt tormented him but not even these extinguished his creative and intellectual spirit. An accidental overdose early in the evening of February 14, 2010 did.
“One thought recurs: death has brought Andrew the dignity that was his due in life too - a dignity he sometimes denied himself, other times radiated.” (Stephen Hyde, delivered at Andrew’s funeral service, Esperance, 2010.)
His work however persists, his gift to us. A poem Andrew wrote on January 18, 2001 could be about this gift, about Andy, although entitled “D.H. (for 3 brothers)”.
he accesses beauty
with the compass of his passions;
the sharp blue sky
might irradiate the (his) day,
deflecting some disappointments,
& anointing plans,
that in the fading light
like silence a sound slowly revealed
like the murmur of a distant ship
or the voices in a photograph
these dreams outline
precise maps of possibility.