Going bush to get back to ‘The Burbs’

Tom Gerrard likes to keep it simple. That means minimal colours and leaving a background of exposed grain on the wood panels he paints on. And it means thinking away from the hustle of Melbourne.

Gerrard’s series ‘The Burbs’, which is currently showing at The Royals offices in Sydney and Melbourne, is a celebration of suburban life. The drawings the pieces were based on were done in the high-country towns of Benalla and Bright.

“I love getting out of town and searching out ideas for future paintings. I find it easier to think away from the hustle and bustle of Melbourne,” Gerrard says.

Two men compete in a wrestling match

His career started as a street artist in mid-90s Melbourne. And his work has become known globally for its stripped-back approach to characters, architecture and nature.

For ‘The Burbs’, he kept the palette basic as a way to modernise the older, more traditional subject matter. 

“Colours are an important part of my art practise. Being that I rarely paint in more than five colours, each colour is considered. I would like people to feel as though they are looking at a modern painting,” Gerrard says.

“My suburban paintings are a documentation of scenes that are disappearing from our landscape.”

Gerrard returned to Australia in 2016 after eight years travelling the world, and began focussing his work exclusively on Australian life, suburban culture and his natural surroundings. 

Check out his art podcast, Bench Talk.