Dwelling deep in the sub-tropical paradise of Byron Bay is a painter at work in his studio. He is covered head to toe in paint and pollen, has sea salt in his hair and a paintbrush in his hand. This magnetic and super talented man is artist, Brian Connolly. From inside his creative sanctuary you can hear the waves kissing the shore of the beach nearby. Brian moved to Byron from Melbourne two years ago and spoke about how this lifestyle change has filtered into his painting practice. Read on to learn more about what inspires this artist and his creative journey. “As you are driving into the town there is a sign that reads ‘Welcome to Byron Bay. Cheer Up, Slow Down, Chill Out’. They were all a part of my intentions for moving to Byron from the craziness of city life in Melbourne. I felt I needed to take a deeper dive inwards and get closer to finding out more about myself and let that translate into my artworks. You can hear the sound of the roaring ocean from my bedroom window, it really is quite the dream and I feel this new-found lightness and inspiration of colour has naturally flowed through my latest works." Brian’s paintings embody the town’s nurturing message. The electric blue vessels, contemplative faces and tropical orchids draw us into his warm, relaxing world. Brian’s earliest artist mentor was his Nana. She inspired him greatly, not only with her artistic prowess but also with her passion for gardening. He describes her garden as “abundant and immaculate.” Her garden has proven to be a limitless source of inspiration for the artist. Some of the main themes we see running through Brian’s paintings are a celebration of the natural world and an inquiry into the human psyche. “I am forever intrigued by the spiritual self and personal growth and my artworks are forever shaped around a diarist approach. The flowers in my work represent that bridging link between nature and human life. I tend to depict bold, whimsical distorted figures, with elements of naivety which reinforces the idea of finding the true beauty in the imperfect.” When Brian speaks about why he paints it's apparent that making art is his vocation. His creative expression allows him time to process and work through life's challenges. He suffered from severe bullying due to his sexuality which led him to question his self-worth and to feel isolated. "I learnt to rewrite the story and embrace my differences. I found expressing myself through art with colour and deep rooted emotion was one of the most important means of communication and feelings of wholeness. Every time I create, any struggle or worry I have instantly dissipates. For me, art has been my saving grace."
In 2007, Brian completed a Bachelor of Creative Industries, majoring in Visual Arts at QUT Brisbane. He now works as an artist full time, exhibiting frequently, completing commissions and painting murals for both private and commercial clients. He has now completed 20 murals, countless commissions, and exhibited throughout Australia. His work has been featured in Vogue Living, The Collective Hub and Instyle Hair magazine.
We welcome Brian with arms wide open!