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John Sullivan

Artist, sailor, traveller, and environmentalist 

New exhibition: Invisible becoming visible

I'm holding my next exhibition in Yarram Courthouse Gallery and it's set to run from 4 to 30 April and will be open daily between 10am and 3pm. I'm also holding an opening event on 6 April between 3pm and 4.30pm and everyone is welcome. I hope to see you there! 


Contemporary abstract




Representational work


Early work


My story

I was born in 1951 at Yallourn Hospital in the Latrobe Valley after which my family moved to South Gippsland where I spent my early childhood amidst the rural and coastal landscapes around Toora. Eventually my family moved to the western suburbs of Melbourne where the maritime environment of Williamstown and the industrial precincts around Spotswood, Newport and Footscray became a fascination for me. In my early working life I was involved in the building industry mostly on high-rise buildings. The themes of coastal and industrial landscapes often emerged in my work. From 1976 to 1981 I studied art formally at both Caulfield Institute of Technology (Diploma of Art & Design) and the Victorian College of the Arts (Post Graduate Diploma majoring in sculpture and illustration). During this time I worked as an artist on various commissions related to community art, religious institutions and numerous group exhibitions alongside farm and labouring work.

Whilst nurturing my work as an artist, I also worked fulltime in various organisations involved in environmental, conservation and cultural heritage management. In 2017, I retired and finally returned to being a fulltime artist once more. Since then, I have exhibited in-group exhibitions with The Victorian Artists Society (VAS) and Australian Society of Maritime Artists (ASMA). Whilst some of my work is representational and reflects the landscapes of my early life, much of my more recent work is abstract in nature and reflects both unconscious and emerging thoughts and impulses. My inspiration comes from a variety of sources, places and experiences. At times I will reflect on childhood and young adult memories and draw upon significant events from that era of baby boomers, sex, drugs and rock and roll. I am still very much inspired by the environment of my youth which has now become even more enhanced by my current life travelling with our caravan across this magnificent island continent of Australia.

Currently, nothing gives me more creative satisfaction and pleasure than the sheer transcendent joy of just drawing and painting the serendipitous abstract manifestations that appear on a two-dimensional surface. It’s taken me a long few decades to come to the realisation that I mostly find my artistic centre in the moment when the ‘invisible becomes visible’, where my own peculiar imagination is free to play and dance across a space of infinite possibilities. My most recent works are a source of both nurture and joy to me. I hope you can enjoy them also.

Over my lifetime my work has been represented in numerous private collections but also in the sculptural collection of the Victorian College of the Arts and the National Gallery of Victoria. I have sold my work locally through exhibiting in the many cafes and creative art outlets around the Mount Dandenong Ranges as well as exhibiting in group exhibitions at VAS and ASMA. I have also sold work through my Instagram account, @jackart_2022.

My public art experience involved working for the Artist in Schools Program for the Education Department in schools around the Mount Dandenong Ranges and creating promotional material for the Health Education Centre. In the early 1980s I initiated and created mural projects for the Dandenong City Council Community Arts Program, as well as landscape sculpture for Brick Makers Park, Oakleigh. Working and facilitating community projects has given me great pleasure and inspiration. I have loved the process of transforming community values and creativity into tangible representations of their cultural values.

Aboard the Enterprize South Cape Tasmani
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