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Raymond Arnold shares his story

This week we welcomed Raymond Arnold and Helena Demczuk from LARQ, Queenstown, Tasmania. This proved to be a real highlight at Arts University Plymouth. These dear friends had hosted my two-month residency in Queenstown in 2014. This was followed by another residency, publication and lecture tour in 2015 as international guest at the 10-Day Festival in Hobart. As a result of my time with them, my life, creativity and thinking were changed forever.

I didn’t want my then students at the University of the West of England to miss out, so I shared my adventures in a VLOG on YouTube here.

I’m so pleased that my current students at Arts University Plymouth have had the benefit of Raymond’s passion as a teacher, artist, and painter-printmaker.

Solid gold

I am blown away by Raymond’s generosity. Each of the 70 people at his lecture received the gift of an etching – each was unique and Raymond at his very best. Such an act of kindness is very much in keeping with our ethos at Arts University Plymouth.

Bound by the natural world and colour from the earth

Equally important, Raymond and Helena are true stewards of the land and friends with their community. With Climart, they have been advocates and activists within their mining town, campaigning for the land they love. Through the arts, they have been able to give the people of Queenstown a sense of belonging and identity. My time in Tasmania was precious, exploring the landscape together, digging up pigments – purples, copper blues, ochres and greens – and then creating paintings from that landscape. It was a real pleasure to talk about all this to local groups. On top of this, I had the space to explore the colour Yellow.

Painting about Queenstown with the pigments from Queenstown was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life.

Bea Maddock

Whilst there, another highlight was meeting Bea Maddock’s sister. Bea Maddock was a great Tasmanian artist who studied at the Slade School of Fine Art. My own grandmother was proud to be her landlady throughout her studies. They kept up regular correspondence until my grandmother’s death at the age of 96 in 1996. Keen to meet a famous printmaker and life-long friend of my grandmother, I made sure to meet Bea Maddock on one of her visits to the UK. At the time, I had no idea that we would eventually share so much in common: colour, pigment, place and identity. It was wonderful when this great Tasmanian artist was mentioned by Raymond in his talk.

Lasting significance

Two of the paintings in my forthcoming show with Benjamin Rhodes Arts are called Destiny and Theophany. Both ideas were birthed as drawings whilst with Raymond and Helena at the LARQ Residency in Tasmania in 2015. They later became part of my response to Paradise Lost. This shows the long-term power that a residency can hold for an artist, writer, or musician.

To hear Raymond share his deep connection with his Australian community and landscape was a joy and a privilege. Finally, huge thanks to Raymond and Helena for their insights and generosity.