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Iain the Artist





I loved Iain's art for it's humility. I couldn't believe how minute
fragile details in his work could be so powerful.  I have always gone for brash and bold that comes out and hits you. Iain's art was the opposite. It sits there quietly and draws you in. A very special quality.     Quentin (a friend)



Right from the start, and all through Iain’s early work, you just knew that he had it, and pretty much the rest of us don’t. Artistic soul is not given to everybody, but it was in Iain right from the start.   Matthew (brother)



His modest and unpretentious manner was often reflected in the materials, application and selection processes in his art practise. Shaped wooden blocks, odd shaped sticks were lovingly sculptured and placed with great care within an assemblage.


          ......... His prints contained soft transparent and opaque combinations of colours that hold the poetry of the calligraphic mark. These works do not scream out. They are quiet, strong, beautiful works (with) a connoisseur’s touch in bringing the fineness of life to our eyes and hearts.


Russell Craig (Senior Lecturer QCA - part of eulogy for Iain)


This work appears abundantly full of the rich contradictions that persist throughout Iain’s practice – a concentrated deliberation to extract what is essential, and an equally matched devotion to
allowing those details to reconfigure into new possibilities, relationships and contiguities. .............


And the form of so much of his work – meandering lines, apparently random pools of colour, deceptively unfocussed scratching at surfaces – are evidence of his dedication to the deferral of final statements.  This denial of exact reference does nothing to deter the viewer from attempting meaning; on the contrary, the teasing quality of its insubstantiality seems to seduce the viewer to make connections.


............... we are left with painted, etched and scrawled clues about journeys made, places entered, thoughts toyed with. The works make it evident the artist has been well aware of the limitations and insubstantiality of the tools he has chosen to suggest his experiences of life, and that he is also as aware that these most humble means of suggesting anything of value are also sufficient. He has left the task of tracking for clues to us.


(Prof.) Pat Hoffie, Queensland College of Art


The remnants of what could be a window is on the right of the image and is made up of number of straight etched lines
running from the top to the bottom of the plate. From this ‘window’ delicately etched lines meander across the space. They may depict fields or tracts leading to a mountain at the top left. Some small more deeply etched areas may indicate habitation. But all this is not clear. What especially is not clear is the
box like form floating above this ‘landscape’. What it is and what its purpose, does not matter, and does not deter us from seeking our own references. ................... 


Influences point to some of this country’s leading printmakers/ artists, from Fred Williams to Ken Whisson. But Iain had his own voice, a voice that, in this body of etchings, shows the maturity
of his quiet reflections.

Noreen Grahame Director, grahame galleries + editions



‘Iain, You taught me to look at the little picture, not just the big picture.’      Fellow artist



Just before he died Iain received a letter from a dear friend, Sydney bookseller Nicholas Pounder, saying he was sending Iain a book of poems – sadly not in time for Iain to read it. One poem in particular he thought Iain would love and, from talking to him since, I know Nicholas also chose it was because he felt it said so much about Iain’s life and work and the task of the artist in making ‘sense’ of the world.  Several quotes from this prose poem – Reflections * by the celebrated American poet Stanley Kunitz – will show why and will resonate strongly with all who knew Iain and loved his art: –


Poems would be easy if our heads weren’t so full of the day’s clatter. The task is to get through to the other side, where we can hear the deep rhythms that connect us with the stars and the tides.

I like to think that it is the poet's love of particulars, the things of this world, that leads him to universals.

I never tire of bird-song and sky and weather. I want to write poems that are natural, luminous, deep, spare. I dream of an art so transparent that you can look through and see the world.


Iain never tired of bird-song, sky and weather and he was constantly listening for those deeper rhythms, while revelling in the detail of the commonplace.  By so doing he was able to make art so transparent and luminous that through it we can see the world and glimpse universal truths.


Gavin Turnbull (Iain's father)


* To see the full text of this poem click here


RETURN >>  Iain the Artist homepage



Banners No. 2 (2003) 2/10
Multi-colour plate etching
25.5cm x 5.3cm




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