Artist Michael Simms joined the Visual Arts Faculty in Week 4 of this term. His time with the College was made possible by the 2019 Learning Grant awarded to the Visual Arts Faculty by the Parents’ and Friends’ Association. Across the week, Mr Simms worked with several Visual Art classes lending his expertise in drawing and painting, offering insights into his practice and working in studio to create a work for the College. On Thursday night he also conducted an adult class for parents and friends of the College. Creating opportunities for cross sectionally interaction in the arts is a key priority of the Visual Arts Faculty.
Mr Simms completed a degree in psychology in his hometown of Adelaide before winning a scholarship to Sydney’s historic Julian Ashton Art School where he completed a Diploma in Fine Arts. Recently, he was in New York completing a residency with the New York Academy of Art and earlier in 2019 he was named as a finalist in the 14th International ARC Salon; a salon competition designed to lead in the revival of realist and representational art. More notably, at home Mr Simms was named winner of the 2018 SBS Portrait Prize, 2018 Finalist in the respected Kilgour Art Prize held by the Newcastle Art Gallery and in 2017 was a finalist in the highly coveted Doug Moran National Portrait Prize.
Primarily a portrait and figurative painter, Mr Simms often captures a dramatic and stoic likeness of his sitters. His training in classical drawing and painting techniques allows his work to traverse the realms of reality and wonder, his figures regularly fade off into nether regions of intense magentas or bottomless blues. His interplay of light, at times engulfing while at others radiating, is a key structural technique. The Italian masters titled this technique chiaroscuro, contrasting light.
Observing his portraits, one is always left wondering
– if the subject is aware of their existence?
– are they conscious of the observing artist?
– or are they suspended permanently in the in-between, neither living a future nor emerging from a past…stasis.
These techniques and visual language are at play in the work Mr Simms has donated to the College. This work will join the growing St. Patrick’s College Art Collection and join the ranks of other notable artists such as Loribelle Spirovski, Joe Frost, Bronwyn Bancroft and Kim Spooner who were previous Artists in Residence.