Artist Profile: Peter Day

PETER DAY IS INTERESTED BY THE WAY HUMANS INTERACT WITH THE AUSTRALIAN LANDSCAPE. HE SPEAKS TO STEPHANIE VIGILANTE ABOUT MAKING MARKS AND FINDING MEANING IN HUMAN-MADE OBJECTS.

“QUIRKY, WEIRD AND WHIMSICAL” is how multifaceted artist Peter Day describes his work. The Sydney-born painter and sculptor says he has been practicing as an artist since he was just four years old. “I still have some of my first drawings – some I have turned into paintings,” he remembers.

Peter’s paintings are an explosion of colour, taking inspiration from landscapes like the beach or the desert. His depictions usually comprise small to large blobs of colour (or “prismatic, crystalline pointillism” as he describes it), using any material that will make a mark, but only if it is appropriate to the cause.

“Spit, blood, fire, grease, a sander or angle grinder … but mostly I use ink, acrylic, oil paints and mineral silicate paint, which will last 100 years outside in any weather conditions,” Peter explains.

As for Peter’s sculptures, he works with objects that have history and meaning – from his grandfather’s chair to a rabbit trap and sticks. “I’m very influenced by the history of useable human-made objects and the alternative meanings that can be ascribed to them,” he says. Each sculpture is usually cast in bronze.

With 40 years’ experience and many achievements –including more than 30 solo shows, inclusions in public and private collections at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Commonwealth Bank, and a number of Australia Council grants and art awards – Peter refuses to be content with his technique. “I would like to paint as well as a skilled vintner who makes good wine or a wheel wright who constructs a wagon wheel – what craft, what magic,” he says.

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