Drawing inspiration from the patterns that surround him, Michael Langley’s work is unique and vibrant. Focus was invited over for a glass of fine wine to find out more about the artist.
What is your connection to the Coffs Coast?
Early contact with the area was the normal Sydney dweller’s constant surf trips up the North Coast. These surfaris always involved stopping in Coffs Harbour for a few days or weeks, depending on the surf and what else was happening in town. As life became busier in Sydney, those trips became unfortunately less frequent until about 14 years ago. It was at this time that my brother and myself sold up our share in Ozone Glass Design, a business we had established some 15 years before that. Following the sale, I moved to Scotts Head, where I lived for ten years, until moving to Coffs Harbour to live with my now wife, Sharon.
Where does the inspiration for your work come from?
Inspiration comes from the day-to-day patterns and experiences of life. It may be the shape and colour of a rock that gets into your head and swirls around until it comes out as something quite different. I think it varies for everyone; we all see different things and see things differently. By that, I mean we can be standing looking at the same view, but each of us is seeing different details, patterns and colours.
When and why did you start working on these projects?
I spent over 20 years working with glass, much of which was “art” related. I have always drawn. Having been surrounded by glass and the purity of colour that can be achieved with the material, I wanted to try to a degree to replicate that in my new work. I really only started to concentrate on the new work around the time I moved to Scotts Head, when I had about 18 months off after I finished up with Ozone. Time is obviously one of the key factors in any artistic endeavour.
How would you describe your style?
Different comes to mind. For a number of reasons I needed to develop a style that allowed me to travel with my work. I therefore had to move away from the painting that I had been doing and create in a different way. My love of glass and its pure colour led me to printing. By printing my work, I could achieve the perfect flat, solid colour that reminded me of the qualities of colour in glass and was exactly the “look” that I wished to attain. Again, the need to have a transportable medium led me to use the computer to print.
What artists do you admire and draw influence from?
I have varied tastes in art. Favourite painters in brief would be Jeffery Smart, Hundertwasser, Reg Mombassa (his landscapes), Fred Williams, and I could go on and on. At the other end of the spectrum, some of the street artists in Coffs Harbour for the stunning November Reign event works are amazing. If it is good art, no matter what it is I think I draw some inspiration from it. Glass artists such as Dante Marioni, Nick Mount, Ben Edols and Kathy Elliott – again I could go on and on.
We are also surrounded with some amazing artists in the local area, some who would not be out of place on the world stage. I particularly find the work of John Van Der Kolk inspirational on many levels.
What projects are you working on at present?
At the moment I am working on pieces for two exhibitions. One is a piece for a group show at the 1st Avenue Gallery in Sawtell. This opens on the 11th December.
The other body of work is for a solo show at Curve Gallery in Newcastle next year.
If you could live anywhere in the world to experience a specific period of art, which would you choose and why?
I would love to have been around Milan, when the whole Memphis Group was in full swing. The sense of colour and design was so fresh and unique; it would have been a really exciting time and place to be. Another would be during the Art Deco period. Everything from that movement really appeals to my aesthetic. I am not sure about living through that time period, however.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering taking up art either as a profession or a hobby?
I don’t really feel I am qualified to give anybody advice on anything; however, that has probably never stopped me. So the really deep and meaningful advice would be just do it and do it and keep doing it. If it doesn’t feel like something you have to do for your own personal wellbeing and fulfilment, then it is probably not.
What are your plans for the future?
To keep doing it.
Where can people find out more about you and your art?
At the moment I have a Facebook page, Michael Langley Art, where there are some images. I can be contacted through that.
It also includes a plug for any exhibitions, classes, date, place, time.