On the Couch with Geoff Todd

Geoff Todd AAR On the CouchWho is Geoff Todd?
I am a visual artist who worked mainstream in Melbourne before accepting the position as Artist in Residence at the Victorian College of the Arts in 1980. Following this I headed North to Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, running away from the East Coast gallery scene and into the world of Aboriginal Australia and the tropics for my first culture shock. I continued to travel further north to work and exhibit in Indonesia and other Asian and European countries. After 25 years I have part returned to Australia’s East Coast.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I think either medicine or law would entice me now.

Who inspires you and why?
People are my biggest inspiration. What comes with people, apart from the physical form, which is often an integral part of my work, is emotion, injustice, successes, failures, every manner of mood, cultural differences, pain and expression. It is the feeling evoked by people within my experience that inspires me to work.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I would like to enlighten the community to the fact that we are allowing the ‘object’ to rob us of ‘art’. If we lose art from our society, we will become less and less tolerant of each other by not recognising humanity within things. We are worshipping objects that look good and calling them art works, sometimes calling them great and very valuable artworks. Many of these objects reflect nothing of the person who created them. We can have beautiful things, dramatic symbols and powerful visual communication, but we need the art element as well. Not everything can be art.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Greece. As an art student I was awarded a prize of Colin Simpson’s book, Greece, which inspired me to travel and which caused me to mention in my very first press review that I was dreaming of a Greek island. I was 18 at the time and have since travelled to Greece and its islands. I was commissioned to work on the island of Kastellorizo and was once stranded in Athens which allowed me days to explore and spend time in the city’s museums and experience real antiquity. I love every minute of my time in Greece, whether working, touring or being somewhat lost in that magical land.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I have a studio in Darwin and one in country Victoria. In Darwin I like to take friends to the Northern Territory Museum and Art Gallery to relive my time in Arnhem Land by showing the paintings, sculptures and artefacts made by our old friends from those days. In Victoria our friends seem to be content to be in our big old building. The main attraction often is our wine cellar that nestles under our two Storey, 150-year-old pub. We live upstairs, work downstairs and philosophy and wine flow in the cellar.

What are you currently reading?
Lawrence Durrell’s Endpapers and Inklings 1933 – 1988. This is a new collection of previously unpublished and published ideas, pictures and letters by Durrell. He valued the art within writing, was a bit of a painter and loved Greece! Why would I not love his writing?

What are you currently listening to?
I have taken a trip back in time recently and have been listening to Donovan and considering his lyrics and his guitar technique since reading his autobiography: also early Ry Cooder.

Happiness is?
Happiness is when the art making is going well! I say ‘going’ because it is not the finished product for me that makes me happy. When people ask “which is your most favourite painting that you have done?” I have to answer truthfully – “It’s the one I am working on. It’s not finished yet by the way. So don’t ask to see it!”

What does the future hold for you?
More of the same I hope.

Geoff has just revealed his new collection of work in the poetry book, Too Soon to Be Late – written by human rights lawyer Stewart Levitt. For more information, visit: www.toosoontobelate.com for details.

Image: Geoff Todd (supplied)