I've seen a few artists studios now. My eyes are always busy darting around looking for clues to an artist's work. Rick Amor's studio is typically revealing. Influences of early Renaissance painter Piero della Francesca, Picasso, de Chirico, are all there. Two maquettes for his 2007 McClelland Award winning sculpture "Relic". A photo of his partner Meg at Dunmoochin. A beautiful little nude painted at Montsalvat and a dog eared photo of Rick with artists/drinking mates Clifton Pugh and Andrew Southall. Skittering around our feet was his constant companion, this little white pooch. How Rick's face softened when he picked him up for this photo.
Rick loves the paintings of Piero della Francesca (below) for their composition. Under each picture there's a geometric grid of right angles.
We met primarily to talk about the Rick Amor Print Prize which he sponsors. In the comfort of his living room (that's a work by Paul Boston directly behind him) we had a great chat about all sorts of art related matters and the Rick Amor Print Prize in particular. The criteria for entry reveals Rick's determination to, "...remove the mechanics from art... There's too much emphasis on new media. Just because it's new doesn't make it good. I willfully go back to handmade stuff. If we don't, the golden thread of the skills of painting is broken. You have to get your hands dirty."
He's often defiant in his support of art created in this way. So there is no digital photography or photoshop allowed in the making of the images. A quick glance at the standard of entries supports his belief. Peter Lancaster, Ros Atkins and Tess Edwards-Baldessin were charged with the responsibility of choosing the exhibited work. Of the judge, Kevin Lincoln, Rick says, "a great print maker and great judge of art. He's one of the dinosaurs like me". Rick was mildly amused when he said, "People who paint like me are known as 'heritage painters' ".
His choice to exhibit The Prize at Montsalvat was similarly defiant. "It's an extension of my belief that you have to step away from the government sponsored art world. I'm making a statement."
Next year will see the inaugural Rick Amor Portrait Prize . The exhibition will also be held at Montsalvat. Rick sponsors both prizes. Playing down his generosity he says, "When I was younger people were generous to me. Then in 1988 I won the National Australia Bank Art Prize. It was the first time I had excess money. I've got a bit of cash at the moment, so I'd like to spread it around."
There's such humanity in everything Rick Amor does.
For details of the Rick Amor Portrait Prize contact Montsalvat via their website.