‘Ken Done; A Life Coloured In’ by Ken Done (Harper Collins) I really enjoyed reading this book – all about colour, the light in Sydney, family, travel and art. What’s not to love? I am nothing if not enthusiastic about a good new book.
Done writes in a wonderfully conversational style peppered with his expressions; ‘Whacko’, great sense of humour and his hand-written and illustrated chapter titles are an unexpected bonus.
A self confessed lover of colour and admirer of Van Gogh, Matisse and Bonnard’s works, it’s no surprise that colour and the light in Sydney are strong themes in the book. However Done’s evocative colour pictures that he nonchalantly describes throughout the book (think ‘emerald-green’), his recall of the blue of Sydney skies (returning from overseas; ‘the sky was a blue we’d not seen for ages’) and the effect of light on the water are just delicious.
Home and family are obviously treasured. Done’s wife, children and many members of the family tree are crucial parts of his thriving company. Done fell in love with a dwelling, The Cabin, when he was 14 years old. Over the years he longed for it, rented it and eventually bought the beloved place. True story. (Much like Charles Dickens who first saw Gads Hill Place when he was 9 years old, pined for it and eventually bought it as his treasured home). This oasis is both inspiration and a haven to Done.
At 14 and a half, Done started East Sydney Tech, Darlinghurst. He was the youngest student they had ever accepted. Progressing to an art director – who can forget the Band-Aid ad with a sad looking boy walking home to the sounds of ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home’ and his mum puts a band-aid on his knee or the Cusson’s Imperial Leather soap ad with a woman in a bath – on a plane – who turns to say, ‘Tahiti looks nice’? Done took the plunge to be a full time artist and his first exhibition was on his 40th birthday.
From works for the Sydney Olympics in 2000, art to wear, over 50 exhibitions in Australia and overseas, weekly magazine covers for the Japanese magazine ‘Hanako’, Done has also been Australian Goodwill Ambassador to UNICEF for more than 30 years, Father of the Year in 1989, has an Order of Australia and has created paintings where the profits going to breast cancer research. Do his talents know no bounds? So clever.
I love that Done sees the importance of surrounding yourself with inspiration. His paintings reflect nature, Sydney Harbour and his travels. Done generously explores his diverse travels and opportunities in a section of this book.
On a day when the harbour covered itself in glory with sunshine, sparkles and blue skies, I visited Done’s gallery. I stared wide-eyed and open-mouthed at the beauty and colour-pop of his paintings. What can only be described as stunning. Stunning I tell you.
Can I just say that I love Done’s ethos that ‘art has got to be something that gives you pleasure over time’. He definitely achieves this with his positive, uplifting artwork. Makes me happy just looking at it. I think you’ll love this book too. Enjoy.
Read my interview with Ken Done here.