True story. A couple weeks back Anton Forde called me – to apologize. It went something like:
Um, sorry I wasn’t exactly sociable the other day, I really am sorry I should have had better manners.
Here’s the thing. A couple days earlier I’d rocked up all bustle + business to an exhibition drop-off, given Anton a quick hug then pushed in (I’d totally missed the fact others were waiting – such an A type sometimes) to the front of the queue. Anton stood politely back. Then he’s the one apologizing to me. Seriously? The guy is a gem.
Truth be known, I don’t know Anton that well, but I do know he’s a hellofva good dude not to mention one seriously sought after artist. I mean, how many artists struggle to meet demand? So few. But then Anton isn’t most artists. And while I can stoop to a dash of envy (hey, I’m a gemini) his laid-back super easy style is so unaffected by his extraordinary success all I want for him is, well, more success.
Don’t know about you, but I love being around people who are effortlessly positive, generous with their compliments + and make everyone around them smile. He’s that guy.
All good guy stuff aside. It’s Anton’s steadfast commitment to his art, that makes his work as engaging, and I’d say as popular, as it is. Which, when you boil it down (or carve it back) it’s about history. Both in the nature of the materials he chooses (woods that have had former lives as railway sleepers, wharfs, fenceposts) and the nature of his people, his family, his country. Yet, and this is the bit I like the most, he is interested in summoning up a sense of personal history in others rather than communicating his own personal experience. Here’s what happens to me when I’m faced with his work: I feel relevant; I feel part of my own history; I feel enlivened and engaged with the world that’s gone before me. That’s worth something. That’s art with true value.
A deep bow to you Anton.
I may have this wrong, but I’m picking his desire to hold up the mirror for others rather than create a statement about himself, comes from his utter content with, and love for, his family. It’s a beautiful thing. In every dealing I’ve had with him, he smiles when they are mentioned, fiercely honers their privacy and I’d bet every dollar I have, they are his heaven on earth. He is testament to my belief that with love under the wings, an artist will only soar.
The photo’s of Anton on this post, taken by Michelle Hepburn, are of him working at his Studio. Seeing him covered with saw dust and grime from his carving made me want to send him off for a hot bath and a vigorous scrub. That’s the mother in me. I got past it. Well, you know, I’d hate to disturb his creative flow.
By the end of the session I had a sense of him morphing into his work. Being literally covered in the stuff of his carving, it must in part seep into his physical being, adding to him, to his history, to his story. Art is like that. When you make it, is sort of starts to make you.
Or, you’re very welcome to contact me and I’ll jack up a meeting for you.
You won’t regret it.