About Brendon

It is twenty years since Brendon Darby first exhibited his works. Since then he has set a cracking pace exhibiting all over Australia, in Austria, Italy, Hong Kong and London. He has combined his profession as a musician with his profession as an artist and based both on his love of the Australian Bush – and a sense of humour.

Brendon was asked about his early life and influences, and how it affected his decision to become an artist.

Brendon Darby

Photo by Julie Kay-Darby

From the age of eight, I would wake from our house on the fringe of Perth’s suburbia in Doubleview at pre-dawn and walk into an exciting adventure – the bush. Though interested in all the wild life, I became a keen bird watcher. I wondered how the most intelligent creature on earth (man), could have got it so wrong. Birds didn’t have to go to school, they were truly free. It’s a thought that stays with me, as has my interest in ornithology. I would reluctantly return home for breakfast with my three sisters and remarkably calm parents. I say calm, because if our eight year old son was not home when we woke in the morning we would have police search parties out looking for him immediately. Ah! The price of progress. If my parents had known some of the things I did, like walking through Herdsman Lake up to my waist avoiding the Tiger Snakes, they may not have been quite as relaxed about my freedom.

Another byproduct of my nocturnal wanderings was a defence mechanism against my sisters. They would maintain a healthy respect for my space as I often brought home a reptile or two to study. Bearded Dragons were my favorites, because although they were harmless they looked as if they would eat your sister.

It was a stroke of luck my father, a salesman by day, a drummer by night, showed great insight when at the age of nine I started showing an interest in music. He took me to Musgrove’s music store, stood me in front of the window and asked, “Which instrument would you like to play?” I immediately pointed to the beautiful gold trumpet, but was advised to start on a cornet which is smaller, easier for a child to handle and to my father’s relief, much cheaper.

While private tuition was very similar to school, I progressed well despite this, and by the time I was ten joined a band called “The Orbiteers”. We played at several venues and made appearances on TV. One of my earliest memories of the band was playing at a New Year’s Eve party in the hills outside Perth. While we were playing “Blue Moon”, away in the distance a large bushfire was burning across a ridge. I thought what a wonderful painting it would make and how much the image and the music were made for each other. It was to be about thirty years before I would give this connection some serious thought again.

Back in the classroom I had found a certain aptitude for drawing and painting, finding I could appease my teachers by producing pictures. Most of my projects were very heavy on illustration and very very light on text. When I was eleven, I formed a band called “The Young Brass” which did fairly well, with lots of national TV appearances. In hindsight, I am quite sure our success was more to do with our young age rather than our talent.

At this time I started to write music as I now had a vehicle to present it. I had also started painting in oils and won a few local art awards. Everything was going nicely – except school. Greatly relieved and surprised, I managed to pass year 10 and grabbed the opportunity to leave school and study Graphic Design at James St Tech. It was unheard of to consider a career as a painter. Graphic Design represented a “real job”. Wrong! I found Graphic Design very restrictive and responded in much the same way I did at school – badly. After two years of very little progress, a very wise teacher suggested I should in fact pursue my career in music, I’ve never stopped thanking him.

From ’69 to ’77 I played music full time in a variety of bands and spent time in London, song writing. My experience at Tech had left such a bad taste in my mouth, I didn’t pick up a brush in all that time. Tiring of pubs, clubs and touring, I needed a change and decided to paint – after all, it was the only other thing I had done. Playing music part-time enabled me to paint by day. As income was generated through painting I played less and less music and I now no longer perform on stage but prefer to write and record.

After returning from Austria in the mid 1980’s, I took a studio in a beautiful old building in Fitzgerald Street, Northbridge. As it was such a nice building, I decided to hang some work in the front, while I worked at the back. People came rolling in so I invited some of my artist friends to hang some works and so “Gallery Australia” was born. It was quite successful, to the point where it stopped me painting. Though staff were arranged, the Gallery still occupied a major part of my life.

Another major interest entered my life – Julie. We were married in 1988 and I soon built a studio behind our North Perth home. It was about this time I started to consider the “Blue Moon” factor, that is the combination of painting and music. The concept of music and image has been exploited successfully in film for years, but I realised it could be a powerful union even with a static image. I had no idea how to present or market this idea, but the seed was sown and I just had to do it. A planned trip to Kakadu seemed the ideal venue.

With Julie armed with field recorder and me with paints we flew to the Northern Territory to record the ambient sounds of the landscape. These were incorporated in the music I wrote and the end result was an exhibition at “Gallery Australia” in 1990 titled “Listening To Paintings – Kakadu”, since marketed as a CD/Book. This concept continued to occupy my thoughts since to the point where I embarked on another series “Listening To Paintings – Australia”.

Brendon Darby “Listening to Paintings – Australia”

I spent considerable time in 10 locations around Australia painting, drawing, composing and documenting the process on digital video. The ten major paintings and their respective musical compositions were completed in my studio in Perth. The audio-visual component of the project, was managed by Julie.  The exhibition which integrated a live musical performance of the opus “Listening To Paintings- Australia”, the film and the paintings, premiered in New York at the American Museum of Natural History in January 2007, to an invited audience of American and Australian dignitaries. The event was a major part of G’Day USA, sponsored by the Australian Government. The evening raised over A$1million for Australian conservation. The exhibition then travelled to Houston as a part of Australia Day celebrations for the Australian American Chamber of Commerce, where it was exhibited at the JP Morgan Chase Bank.

I tend to become bored very easily. This has advantages and disadvantages. To maintain interest, I’m constantly trying different methods of mark-making in my paintings. The irony here is, I’ve spent most of my life working on developing my technique only to deliberately avoid using predictable brush strokes. I find more and more I’m using mixed media and applying paint with anything but brushes (that is unless it’s an old brush with no hair). It’s exciting to respond to “happy accidents”. This may sound a bit haphazard. But really I’m still trying to loosen up and rid myself of my graphic training.




Brendon Darby

Photo by Julie Kay-Darby

Artist’s Statement

One of my main motivations to paint is a very basic human trait that I think we all possess: the need to share experiences that stimulate us. For example, when we see something that moves us, we can’t wait to show someone else. Living in Australia, I’m surrounded by an infinite variety of landscapes that never cease to amaze me. There is a lot I want to share with you. I consider myself very fortunate, because it appears that there are people out there, that enjoy my interpretations of the landscape enough to want to show their friends. Their support enables me to continue painting. For that I am very grateful.





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