Tony Woods: Archive

Tony Woods_coverTony Woods: Archive documents the fifty year career of pioneering Melbourne-based contemporary artist and filmmaker Tony Woods.

This 239-page hardback volume presents an illuminating evaluation of Woods’ artistic achievement since he commenced exhibiting   in the early 1960s.

Richly illustrated, it contains 198 reproductions of his artwork dating from 1962 to the present day with the majority from Woods’ private collection. Also featured is previously unseen written correspondence received during the artists’ five decade career.

Born in Hobart in 1940, Anthony (Tony) David Woods developed an interest in the visual at an early age. Initially focusing on landscape watercolours, he soon became interested in figurative work.

In 1968 he was awarded a Harkness Fellowship, spending two years living and working in New York City where he developed an interest in abstraction, inspired by the environment around him. Following the loss of his entire New York studio due to a fire, Woods returned to Australia.

Starting afresh, Woods recommenced painting and in later years developed an interest in super 8, video and sound recording. Since 1962, Woods has staged many solo exhibitions across Australia and has been featured in numerous significant group exhibitions.

Woods is represented in major public, institutional and private collections in Australia and overseas. Since the 1980s, Tony Woods has lived and worked in Fitzroy, Melbourne.

Tony Woods: Archive is edited by the curator Andrew Gaynor, contributors to this volume include : Australian arts critic and fiction writer Lesley Chow; trans-disciplinary artist Phil Edwards; independent curator and art historian Dr Sheridan Palmer; poet and architect Alex Selenitsch; artist Dr Gary Willis; and freelance writer Jake Wilson. Each writer analyses a particular aspect of Woods’ extensive and varied practice.

Tony Woods: Archive restores the reputation of one of Australia’s ‘lost’ contemporary artists. Woods is revealed as a committed observer of life, environment and human encounter over some five decades,” says Andrew Gaynor.

On the release of the book, Gaynor says ”It took one year to make and is a positive journey down memory lane. I am thrilled and proud and am truly thankful to all of those who helped make it a reality.”

The introductory chapter, ‘Work for the Eyes to Do’ is written by Tony Woods in his unique style, providing an overview of his personal and professional life.

The following chapters provide different perspectives and opinion on his life and art: Dr Sheridan Palmer documents Woods’ early life and career in ‘The Structure of Shadows’, concluding as Woods prepares to leave for New York in 1968 to take up the Harkness Fellowship.

Palmer also contributes ‘Tony Woods – bonsai and barn doors’ which documents Woods’ return to Australia in 1969, his friendship with fellow artist Brett Whiteley and his interest in still life, portraiture and a return to shadows and light sources.

Dr Gary Willis offers an overview of Woods’ years in New York in ‘Tony Woods – Harkness Fellow, New York 1968-69’. In ‘Anything that moves: Tony Woods’ light paintings’, Lesley Chow explores Woods’ fascination with light and shadows in both painting and Super 8 film.

In ‘Tony Woods in Abstract’ Alex Selenitsch offers a step-by-step guide to appreciating Woods’ abstract works from the 1990s and suggests a richer understanding of his earlier works. Phil Edwards provides an overview of Woods’ more recent interest in recording the sounds around him in ‘Tony Woods – the Field Recordings’.

The final chapter in the volume is provided by Jake Wilson who discusses Woods’ Super 8 film work in ‘Neighbourhood Watch: Film & Videos by Tony Woods’.

Enclosed within each copy of Tony Woods: Archive is a DVD featuring ‘Work for the Eyes to Do’, a 55 minute documentary on Tony Woods’ life and career compiled by artist/writer/photographer and filmmaker Miriam Johnson and producer Roy Chu including eight of Woods’ Super 8 films.

The documentary features a number of interviews with Woods himself alongside many of those who have contributed to Tony Woods: Archive. Sculptor Stephen Walker, musician Nick Lyon, Australian poet Vivian Smith, art collector Terry Whelan, author Sue Backhouse and artists Jon Cattapan, Godwin Bradbeer, George Davis, Max Angus, Nick Selenitsch and John Aslanidis are also featured.

Superbly produced, Tony Woods: Archive is a fitting tribute to a true and original Australian contemporary artist, one who continues to be inspired by daily life and remains as passionate now as the day he first picked up a paint brush.

Tony Woods: Archive is published by Australian Scholarly Publishing (ASP) and available at all good bookstores.

Image: Tony Woods: Archive cover