Working across painting, collage and sculpture, John Baird has developed a unique aesthetic that explores how slippages between utilitarianism and decoration inhabit everyday objects. With a lingering aura of nostalgia, the sail boat, the dressing table or the floral arrangement are elevated from the commonplace. By consciously conflating foreground and background, Baird forges a surreality that adds a dream-like dimension to his constructed spaces, enkindling our memories and inspiring our imaginations.
The artist’s new series of paintings engages with the iconic setting of Sydney Harbour. Working on linen for the first time in many years, Baird responds to a recent gaff rigged yacht race on the harbour, of which he was invited to record with drawings. ‘I take great delight in gazing at the harbour’ says Baird, a passionate sailor himself. He continues, ‘The harbour is peppered with iconography, and out on the water is a fabulous place to cast a rigorous eye over both the boats and the water, decorated with light houses, the bridge, the opera house and a gingham of apartments’. Baird’s new collection explores how Sydney Harbour has become a symbolic and iconic expression of Australian identity. Serene sailboats, landmarks and still seas rendered in steely indigos, seaweed greens and icy greys conjure a sweeping tranquillity that transports the viewer to a moment of stillness – be it the calm of the ubiquitous Australian coast or a quiet content within their own internal landscape.
Baird has participated in numerous solo and group shows around Australia, and his work is held in major national collections including the National Gallery of Victoria, Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum, Artbank and Bell Potter Group, as well as international and national corporate and private collections.