The Press: ‘Written in Friendship’

The Press, Diana McCurdy and Cate Brett.  Poet Owen Marshall speaks about Grahame Sydney.
Do awards matter to Grahame?  I think awards do matter to Grahame. Public recognition reinforces your sense of confidence in your craft. Having said that, not getting an award wouldn’t stop Grahame from doing exactly what he wanted to do because he’s a very focused, self-sufficient artist.

What aspect of winning a Montana will bring Grahame greatest satisfaction?  He is a very generous person and even in the short time since the award was announced, I know a lot of his enjoyment has been in seeing the talents of others recognised through his book: Longacre, Jenny Cooper, and the people who contributed the articles – Brian Turner (poet), Reg Graham (photographer), my daughter Belinda Jones (art curator). His enormous satisfaction in their shared recognition is typical of Grahame.

Is it ironical that the accolades for Grahame have come from the book world rather than the art world?   Maybe. I’m not sufficiently into the art world to know how they regard him. I presume he is seen as a very large figure in traditional landscape painting. But certainly Timeless Land and now this book have brought him a whole public outside the art world. Having said that, his recent exhibition at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery was extremely well received by art commentators. This sense of Grahame being an isolated regionalist and not being mentioned by Auckland magazines, I think he is past that. He is too big to ignore now.

What do you admire most in Grahame? I admire his single-mindedness and his generosity. I admire his dedication to his art, which at times can come across almost as a selfish arrogance, and I say that as a close friend. Grahame will do it his way: he is not particularly interested in other people’s opinions of his work.”