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Done still delights

Posted: 8am 05 Nov 2021
Ken Done image credit: Stuart Spence

Acclaimed artist Ken Done is thrilled the Moreton Bay Region will play host to more of his work, with a travelling exhibition at the Redcliffe Art Gallery.

Done last visited when his iconic ‘Australia’ signs from Expo 88 were unveiled at the Caboolture Historical Village in 2018 to coincide with 30th anniversary celebrations.

The signs were rescued and restored after an eight-month campaign led by Arethusa College student Kurt Jones – the college’s current school captain – who found them rusting on the college’s Deception Bay campus.

“Expo in Brisbane was such a fantastic thing and I was very happy to be involved,” Done recalls.


Kurt Jones with the Australia sign he campaigned to save

He never envisaged the 6m high sculptures would have such a lasting legacy and become synonymous with the Expo.

“I just tried to make the letters symbolise everybody in Australia and its brightness and enthusiasm and optimism.

“There’s lots of places in Australia that use that coloured letter form now – it’s a great compliment.

“It’s a bit of Australian history, so it’s certainly worth preserving.”

Sharing the delight

Violet Coralhead, 2011

Done is delighted the signs are continuing to bring people pleasure and it’s a mission he continues with his paintings.

“I like paintings to give you pleasure over time, to make them beautiful enough so you can keep finding new things in them.”

The exhibition at Redcliffe - Paintings you probably haven’t seen - brings together a collection of works selected by Done and the Ken Done Gallery.

“I am really looking forward to it. It will be a great joy - I’m looking forward to coming up at some stage during the exhibition.”

Done says the exhibition includes earlier works as well as more recent paintings.

“It’s a diversity of work, it’s a travelling exhibition, visiting a variety of regional galleries.

“I love regional galleries – there’s a kind of enthusiasm you get from patrons.”

How’s the serenity?

Yellow beach 2, 2016

His studio and home at Chinaman’s Beach in Mosman overlook Sydney Harbour and are a world away from his former career as an art director and designer in advertising and design agencies around the world – and that’s just how he likes it.

Asked how he’d spent his morning before his chat with Moreton Daily, Done responds with delight in his voice.

“I always start the day with a swim and a walk,” he says.

“I fed the birds, including a couple of butcher birds who come down for an old chop bone or something like that, and fed the fish that come every day.”


Ken Done Me 11

Memories of Brisbane

Spending time doing things he loves is clearly important to Done, who recalls an idyllic childhood growing up in Maclean on the Clarence River, where his father owned a trucking business that would sometimes take them to Brisbane.

“I can remember when Surfers Paradise was an intersection with one traffic light,” he laughs.

“We went fishing every day, there was no homework, just lots of mucking around.

“I think there should be a period each day that’s just called ‘mucking around’ - it’s when your brain can float and create.

“I’m 81 now and I still like mucking around.”

Ken Done: Paintings you probably haven’t seen is at the Redcliffe Art Gallery from November 6-January 22.

The gallery is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-4pm. Entry is free.

Read more local arts news here.

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