98-year-old artist no stranger to Bermagui paradise

Artist Owen Foulkes, 98, is exhibiting a selection of his paintings in Bermagui, where his daughter lives.

Artist Owen Foulkes, 98, is exhibiting a selection of his paintings in Bermagui, where his daughter lives.

HAVING a love of art all his life, Owen Foulkes is still painting as he approaches his 99th birthday next month.

He speaks with love and an extensive knowledge of art and painting, stating the importance of pattern, design and colour in his works. 

Bermagui’s Strangers In Paradise currently features an exhibition by Mr Foulkes. 

His style is using mixed media, primarily gouache with pastels and crayons, and his main ideas come from graphic design. 

“I have no desire to produce things in a photographic method,” he said.

“The main thing is to keep the whole thing as flat as possible – without too much painstaking photographic dimension.

“Symbols have a place in painting, but they don’t jump out at you - you have got to make symbols look a little bit different.”

Born in Queensland in 1915, Mr Foulkes was influenced by his artist father in his passion. 

Starting with drawing, in the early 1930s he attended Swinburne Technical College in Melbourne to do graphic design. 

Afterwards he got a job as a process engraver making printing blocks for advertisers and newspapers, before getting a job with a freelance artist who drew for men’s fashion. 

He then decided to try his hand as a freelance artist himself, but in the middle of his career World War 2 broke out.

He was with his wife in Sydney when the Japanese landed in New Guinea and sent submarines to invade Sydney harbour. 

That was when he decided to join the war effort and was sent to New Guinea. 

After a period of leave in Australia, he returned to New Guinea to find his battalion, but was sent to the wrong area, so spent a long time searching for them.

Once he found his battalion he was told they had no more room for him, and so was sent home on leave again. 

Once WW2 was over he changed his outlook on painting. 

“After the war, artists became more interested in the purer side of painting,” he said. 

He got a job as a master of general ordinance and made drawings of weaponry, drawing details of all their workings to make booklets for maintenance reasons. 

In the early 1950s he formed a graphic design exhibition with a few other artists, travelling around the capital cities exhibiting with them a few times and once won the major prize for the best exhibit. 

Mr Foulkes now resides in Palmwoods, Queensland, but visits Bermagui regularly to see his daughter. 

The exhibition is open until June 27 and Mr Foulkes has had “quite a few” sales of his artwork already. 

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