IT TAKES courage during these uncertain times to pack up and travel across the world to settle in a new country. But Wayne Markwort and his wife Fran and their four children Tess, Jordie, Anika and Zach have taken it in their stride. This young family moved to the Blackall Range in August from Huddersfield in the north of England. Perhaps courage is the wrong word for Wayne and Fran who are both professional artists. Because they both exude confidence and determination to establish themselves, coming as they do with an impressive breadth of skills from ceramics to stone carving, painting and digital art.
Wayne was trained at college as a stone carver and on graduation he immediately started pitching for public art commissions. He found it a very competitive area and eventually went on to further study in stone carving in Barcelona where he met Fran 17 years ago. “There’s such massive competition for public art work in the UK,” says Wayne. “I have a sense that the Australian artworld is more accessible and we will be approaching galleries with our portfolios.” Wayne’s portfolio reveals an impressive range of monumental abstract sculptures, delicate bronzes, and bold spray can images in primary colours.
“Narrative is important to what I do,” says Wayne. “I don’t think it’s really art if there is no story behind the composition. Craft and design on their own are OK but without a narrative it is simply a utilitarian object.”
With four young children, Fran is careful to find time for her ceramic sculptures, and as they settle into Range life, Wayne is planning to install a bronze foundry at home to make small bronze pieces, which he sees as more commercially attractive than large stone sculptures.
“Abstract sculpture is such an elite art. You have to work at it and I have gradually developed a style which often relies on religious iconology for its form and theme.”
Like many artists, Wayne is prepared to work at most things to sustain his creative bent, from gardening to building.
“For me, art comes first. Creative ideas tend to build up and then they rush out. For example, I have just finished about 17 spray can paintings – still lifes and very classical in composition.”
Having travelled the world with their art – making their way through America, Africa, Europe and SE Asia – Wayne and Fran have settled on the Blackall Range. That’s partly because Wayne’s father lives here but Wayne also sees things through the eyes of an artist.
“Apart from the weather, there is something about the space and time here – every hour seems to last longer,” he adds with a smile. “There’s a solidity here, and despite the sometimes deafening bird chatter, there is a stillness about this place.”