Brendan Garrett. Photo credit: Ashley Sroka
The artistic genre, ‘contemporary monotremal whimsy’, was coined by Brendan Garrett to describe his unique ink, pencil and watercolour artworks that celebrate nature and his love of traveling. In our latest spotlight, we learn about Brendan’s favourite galleries and what inspires him.
Q: Hello Brendan! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
A: Certainly! I’m essentially a French duke. I lay around on hammocks all day eating soft cheese. I’m also studying a Master of Environment at the University of Melbourne, while creating art when I can. I’m from Adelaide originally and love the place, but have also lived abroad in Canada and the UK for a few years. I’ve been selling my artwork for about 5 years now and have been involved in a number of exhibitions. I love to draw and paint and spent most of my high school years doodling all over my maths and social studies papers. I’m also passionate about social and ecological equality and have spent time co-convening the Oxfam Adelaide University group and the Environment Collective of Students.
With the Mountains Behind and the Soil Beneath, In Our Little Food Forest We’ve Got All That We Need (ink and watercolour)
Q: Who inspires you? What inspires your art?
A: As cliché as it might sound, I’m inspired by the world. I love watching nature do its thing. I have a definite fascination with moss in particular. I love what it’s about, it grows where it wants, has incredible colour and is like a mini forest. I should draw some moss. My partner is a great inspiration, she’s also a wonderful artist, and is very encouraging. Every time I visit a gallery, I’m inspired by the work that resonates with me, which I want to match, as well as the work I don’t enjoy, which pushes me to make something better.
Q: Do you have a preferred medium?
A: I’m a big fan of the watercolour and pen and ink combo. I usually use watercolour paper as well and often add pencil and sometimes pastel to pieces for an interesting combination of texture.
Through the Fields of Mushroom Blue, I Brave the Cold and Snow and Think of You (ink and watercolour)
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I’d say it’s a reflection of my concerns for environmental sustainability, the values we place on ‘nature’, my fascination with the animal world and the inspiration I have gained from travel and living abroad. I find that I draw platypus a lot, maybe my style is ‘contemporary monotremal whimsy’.
Q: Can you please describe your artistic and creative process i.e.: from lingering idea to putting it into practice?
A: It’s always different. Sometimes it’s erratic and limited to a moment and other times I develop an idea over a long period of time. I’m not one for creating elaborate plans or sketches beforehand, rather, I like to jump straight in, not overthink and just let things happen. I find much more enjoyment that way.
Figure 2. Ornithorhunchus Anatinus (Indian ink, watercolour and pencil)
Q: Where do you see your art practice taking you in the next five years?
A: Hopefully to the bank! Am I right?! No, seriously, I’m finding that my art is becoming more and more of a reflection of my personal values and my ethical concerns. I want my art to continue to evolve its message alongside my evolution of global environmental and social concerns. Hopefully, this will take me towards a career that I can be proud of.
Q: If you could recommend one artist, who would it be?
A: Marcel Dzama, a Canadian artist who I came across in an exhibition whilst living in Montreal. His style is just …. I don’t know, it’s got a great simplicity to it, with a touch of wackiness and a dash of politics. Some of his stuff is a little obscene though. I really dig the portraits of Egon Schiele too.
Our Nordic Island (ink, pencil, watercolour)
Q: What is your favourite gallery?
A: Local, Urban Cow Studio of course. Beyond, that’s tough, but I’d go with the MONA in Hobart. I went there a few years ago and it blew my mind. Such a great diversity of pieces presented in a really engaging manner. Everyone should go there.
Q: Where can we find more of your work?
Babushka Bowie (ink and watercolour)
Q: If you could make any day a public holiday, what would it be?
A: I’d try and use such powers for good. I’d change the date of ‘Australia day’ to a less insensitive day that celebrates diversity and better recognises Indigenous Australians. Then I’d make ‘Earth Hour’ into an entire day where no non-essential electricity should be used and everyone gathers for a night-time picnic because we can all finally see the stars in the city. That’d be nice.
– Masya Zabidi