GAV BARBEY                                                                       

Born in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, I spent most of my first seven years in a modest backyard in Springvale North amongst a myriad of pets, apricot trees and a giant lily-pily tree. I later moved to the neighbouring suburb of Mulgrave, built upon farming paddocks. Time was spent between my suburban schooling and the rural beach community of my mother’s birth place   - Phillip Island - famous for its fairy penguins, koalas and motor bike racing.

Being dyslexic was no barrier. I transformed the written word into pictures and learnt the gift of the gab. At four years of age I wanted to be an archaeologist. My singing career started on a bad note - I was asked to mime as my deep voice echoed above the choir. In grade three I started a puppet company with puppets made from cigarette packets. In grade six I was part of an ensemble performing variety comedy skits including “Burke and Wills”- a farce.

At four years of age I wanted to be an archaeologist. My singing career started on a bad note - I was asked to mime as my deep voice echoed above the choir. In grade three I started a puppet company with puppets made from cigarette packets. In grade six I was part of an ensemble performing variety comedy skits including “Burke and Wills”- a farce. Saw me leave school in Australia and travel to Hotchkiss Colorado USA to live on a cattle ranch and graduate in the class of ’84.

In the US I designed the musical “Tumbleweeds” and played Wart Whimble. I also designed the State Champion Marching Band’s sets and properties. I attended All State for duet acting and was the second kicker for the football team weighing in at ten stone. I applied and was accepted into Boston Art Institute, though lack of funds saw me return to Australia.


My first (short-lived) job on return to Australia was shearing and feeding sheep for the Melbourne University Science Department. I then started as a junior in the Visual Merchandising / Art Department for the Gas and Fuel Corporation. An old theatrical studio it consisted of designers, artists, scenic artists, sculptors, carpenters, window dressers, a plumber, a seamstress and was basically a thespian hangout.

I embarked on my inaugural Aussie backpacking trip around Europe. Again my hands worked for me, renovating houses and with a short stint as a paste-up artist for a computer magazine - being computer illiterate to this day this was somewhat of a joke. In Europe I could finally immerse myself in my mentors - Picasso, Rodin, Le Corbusier, Goudy, Henry Moore. My interests were form, beauty and passion, the romantic ideals being my sole interest as a young artist and still influencing everything I do today.

Back to Melbourne working as a freelance commercial sculptor and painter of mock finishes. In the following two years I would embark on my first sculpting classes at Swinburne Institute, do a course on painted finishes in Sydney and share a house with fellow artists. Melbourne in the mid to late eighties was for me a potent fusion of music, intellectual beliefs, environmental hunger and artistic follies. We all seemed concerned, we all flocked together in Fitzroy, bought old cars, wore our fathers fifties suits, planted native trees, smoked pot and drank beer while either playing or listening to independent music.

My first artistic and life crash. The eighties were over, I had earned way too much money doing commercial art for its seconds of glory, only to be discarded wastefully. Our inner city sanctum was having growing pains.

I left for America to “find myself” as William Burroughs would have said. This would be a life changing experience, lonely and quiet. A drive across the States enabled me to write stream of consciousness diaries of theories and poetic prose. Here I was to meet Samantha Durham, a New York Writer working at the MOMA. Within one week I had read my first ever book - Raymond Carver’s “New Path to the Waterfall” and also discovered the work of Francis Bacon. I was invited into the romantic and beautiful side of pain and sadness.

Back home in Melbourne I met colour theorist and dolphin researcher Fay Weldon, with whom I shared the unique experience of studying dolphins at Port Phillip Bay.

This year also came the realization that I wanted to study art. Torn between sculpture at RMIT and the belief that I didn’t want my work to be stagnant in a gallery, I applied for the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney.

With a new city and a work load of 12-15 hour days this new life saw me consolidate my artistic expression - to collaborate. This process of collaboration and the magic of theatre and film brought me a love for physical performance, mixing puppetry, movement, music, magical tricks and textual suggestion. NIDA was a heady concoction of every art form I could possibly imagine. A highlight was the 1992 Adelaide Festival where Genevieve Blanchett, Dan Tobin, Davis Waller and myself created a free form performance of stick sculptures in the park, meeting Andy Goldsworthy, a hero in my artistic endeavours.

While at NIDA I was fortunate to be taught life drawing by Arthur McIntyre who pushed my ambidextrous ways and encouraged me never to be scared of the initial strokes on a page. I still believe now that the freedom of emotional sight is a gift that allows me to search for the story which unravels whether unconsciously or consciously through the lyrical line of my work. As a design graduate in theatre and film I was encouraged through my faith in collaboration to join the Burning House Theatre Company formed by Richard Roxborough and Justin Monjo. In the heat of summer we staged “That Eye the Sky”, an adaptation of Tim Winton’s novel. To raging success, this experience will live forever in my memory as an artistic high point of my life.

I designed and collaborated on various commercial and non-commercial theatre, film, documentary and advertising projects. I joined the collective “Many Hands Productions” consisting of a group of 13 actors / writers / directors / artists who joined together every Monday night for 5 years, to write character driven, visual television series. “The Urban Dead” and “Big Snorkel” have never been produced though I believe are two of the most innovative Australian Television Series ever written.

I wrote and directed my first short film “Kissed” - a 1.20sec farce based on the love of a contortionist. The film was made for Tropfest and was a finalist, opening the festival. I received funding from the NSW Film and Television Office to make my second short film “Burnout”, produced by Liz Burton and Libby Sharpe. “Burnout” is a poetic monologue to a visual narrative set to music. “Burnout” has taken me around the world and was released on DVD in the US by Warner. A highlight for me was the Sundance Film Festival in Utah where my film played to great appreciation.

In December I held my first exhibition called Zoo Study, a collection of works produced at the Zoo. The exhibition sold out in one night. This exhibition was to be a one off to quell the hankerings of my friends in the entertainment industry, where for years I had sketched in rehearsals and during performances. Mentor and Australian artist, the late Bill Gleeson, had also badgered me for years to exhibit. However this was not to be the last of my exhibitions. I have continued to exhibit regularly to this day in both solo and group exhibitions in Sydney and Melbourne and have work held in private collections from Australia to Asia and the US


My long awaited forae back into theatre started in 2000, in the Olympic arts festival, performing a puppet costume with a company whom had inspired my theatrical sensibilities, Pina Bauch Dance Company played 5 shows and whilst being apart of the company for that short time I compiled a book of sketches which now accompanies the company.


In 2001 I leave Charles Hewitt gallery in Sydney after 2 successful exhibitions, and go it alone again. In 2002 my mother (the happiest person i have yet known), continued her spiritual journey, not without doing what she and my father had always done, encourage the gift of expression and belief. I have produced to short films of my ice works series, one a live 35mm stop motion film shot behind the Art House hotel in Sydney of 3, 120lt ice blocks over a week. I produced with photographer Lisa Giles a documentary on bird people, a small glimpse of the colourful world of birds, and professional and amateur tweeters. and in 2002 was granted as director the first round of the new south wales film and television office, funding initiative, the aurora funding for development of feature film scripts, with Richard Linsel (writer) and Megan Harding producer).

In 2003, I again work with the humane society, creating a series of 12 ltd edition prints to raise money for wild life funds. I am represented in Melbourne by Greythorn Galleries in Toorak and in 3 weeks have my first solo show of Ned Kelly dreaming, a personal body of figurative pours which sprout from me, in memory of my mum and the arrival of me becoming a father. I was invited to collaborate with writer/director Scott Rankin, video artist Kirsten Bradley and a team of musicians, actors, and technical wizards in a production of 'beasty girl', a devised theatre piece for the Perth, Tasmania and Melbourne festivals. I performed live blending puppetry, live drawing, sculpture, found objects, video and basically anything our collective minds could rally up with one actor, a bunch of text, a mix of live and pre recorded video art, live and pre recorded music and a thylacine (Tasmanian tiger).

My life and Bec Andersons life has been blessed with a new companion, a new friend, a new love...on the 30th of September 2003, Bodhi Rose was born...and my work takes on a new journey...landscapes...the beginning of the 2nd body of ice paintings. The past 4 years I have had 5 solo exhibitions in both Melbourne and Sydney, held my annual one night paper work shows, and exhibited in numerous group shows in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Hong Kong. the desire to create has pushed not only the mediums but my artistic practices into a meditative force...devouring the inner and otter worlds of my 2004 has started with a bang...after a year of working with sculptor Robert, collectively using wood, feathers and found objects for a body of works for a year of writing and dropping the brush as a tool, (my works become figurative pours), I find myself digging deeper, finishing series, honing my techniques and focusing again after 10 years on the nude. Within this website is a glimpse of my artistic life in miniature ..a journey of enlightened ramblings...a dyslectic stream of consciousness, of passion, of soul...a journey which continues to sail me and the one blue eared rabbit into the uncharted waters and fulfill this life.