Godwin Bradbeer

Term: 1 Year: 2019

This term, Nic Plowman sits down with Godwin Bradbeer, the Melbourne based artist and acclaimed virtuoso draftsman. Godwin’s work reflects an enduring inquiry into depicting the human figure and he has been the recipient of many major drawing awards in Australia. He creates compelling figurative imagery that seeks to establish credible descriptions of human beauty, physical ordinariness and individual and collective tragedy. He is the focus of a new publication by Thames & Hudson.

What did art mean to you as a child/young person?
Godwin: As a child art seemed to be a normal aspect of life, a form of playing. By middle adolescence this had changed and art became to some extent the foundation of my self-esteem and a defence against my failings.

Did art help you with a sense of identity/purpose?
Godwin: Yes, in art I could recreate identity and forge purpose; it became the repository of elevated and abject notions of myself and the world. I believe, if you remain constant in your art for a sustained period, it inevitably begins to manifest something of your deeper convictions and your philosophy of self and circumstance.

What was your experience of art at school?
Godwin: In primary school I had a teacher who drew large and beautiful drawings on the blackboard to accompany stories and poems. I thought they were a kind of magic. Later on, I would identify very quickly with other kids who were good and serious about art. I wanted their friendship and the incredible liberality that art gave to our conversation – and swagger!

What is drawing to you?
Godwin: I try to find meaning through drawing. I sometimes say that drawing presents the artist in naked state, painting presents the artist clothed and in photography the artist is hidden. Drawing usually reveals the search and struggle for some kind of truth, it is usually difficult. I think that this is enabling.

You teach drawing/life drawing. How important is drawing for art students?
Godwin: I have considered drawing and life drawing to be critical aspects of an art education. In my experience art students are intellectually and technically matured by the experience of life drawing and the earnest meditation of the subject of ourselves. The difficulty of the practice is one of the premier benefits of life drawing. It deepens knowledge and perception. It expands the capacity to see, to comprehend and to reimagine and construct anew. It can also be expressively and even conceptually liberating.