artist's statement

"I try to create a deeper sense of desire and intimacy in relationships between people and relevant objects. I hope the painting sets up a sense of curiosity and stimulation in the viewers mind as to what is happening and what might happen according to their own experiences and sensibilities".


Born in Sunderland, North England in 1939. Michael is one of Australia’s most original and inspiring artists. He is a glorious painter, superb draughtsman and stimulating teacher. His achievements are numerous. He has won every major art prize down the east coast of Australia. He trained at the prestigious Chelsea School of Art, London for five years culminating in the National Diploma of Drawing and Design award in 1962. He obtained his Art Teacher’s Certificate from Leeds University. Since emigrating to Australia in 1964 he taught Art at Lismore Secondary School for ten years until 1974, and in Technical Colleges and the Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education. He has dedicated his life to his two great loves, painting and teaching.

Michael’s work is beautifully balanced as is his life. To live spiritually in a world that is materialistic is something Michael has achieved in his life and this is reflected in his art. As he says, in his work he achieves, "The Essence or Soul of Human Relationships and Personal values in a Spiritual sense while working in a basically materialistic world."

Michael also finds balance within the images and illusions that people have of themselves. The silhouette of a lanky girl in the wisp of a night-dress oscillating between the half-clad figure in his solemn suit is an image verging between reality and dreams. These thought provoking pictures tantalise the mind. What are the figures thinking? What will happen next? Will there be an encounter? Here is another theme unravelling an intricate web of mystery within each picture. An embrace, a kiss, a face cloistered in darkness, tokens of the past, the outstretched arm with a view to an encounter stimulate the senses of the viewer.

There is always mystery on a Michael Taylor canvas. Every work takes us on a journey of discovery like the magic carpet floating into Sappho’s starry, starry night of dreams depicted in some of Michael’s pictures. He is a painter of moments and mysteries, of dreams and desires, of poetry and passion. When you stare into a Michael Taylor canvas you can immediately relate to what you see. Your instant response is, "Yes, I know that feeling!" If it is possible to paint and investigate human emotions, Michael is the master.

With every image he captures and explores universal emotions of love and longing and that anticipation of things to come. We relate to the scantily clad figures staring at each other, but it is in the dark spaces between them where the mystery and tension lies.

In the works based on poet, William Blake’s "Songs of Innocence and of Experience", Michael says:

"It is the distance between knowing and not knowing and the questioning as to how this concept applies to Blake’s attitude towards innocence and experience. In which of these two distinct areas does innocence lie and experience exist? A literal pictorial point can be acknowledged - but it is the deeper and more illusive emotional and psychological clues which are contained or hidden within an image that produce much more significant reverberations. How can such responses be termed? What is the framework of the experience? A sequence of notes within a score, the positioning of certain words within a line, the composition of certain marks schematically arranged, all produce within a receptive audience what I believe to be a feeling of knowing."

The distances between knowing and not knowing, between innocence and experience are explored by Michael. Is the young woman as innocent as she appears or does she have an ulterior motive, or perhaps he does as he strokes her flowing hair? We identify with the feeling produced from the tension between the figures. We remember that stare, the longing, that intense flush before her lips meet his -the moment when illusion and reality collide. In this way, Michael’s work is in essence sensual in the purest form of the word. His thought provoking images appeal primarily to the senses. As Michael says:

"In Eastern Countries the dancer was the medium between the earthly and the ethereal. Likewise in the West the poet, since the time when the Greeks referred to the word, "Duende" being the contact point with that which cannot be seen, but merely acknowledged through the senses and heightened awareness."

Michael John Taylor is an extraordinary artist. For over thirty years he has led the way for many artists to follow. His intellect and great capacity for understanding humanity combined with his gifted, natural talent make him a monumental figure on the Australian art scene. There is no picture quite like a Taylor. It is his uniqueness and distinctive quality that sets him apart, or rather above the rest.


Michael has had One Man Shows in Brisbane, Lismore, Armidale, Newcastle and Adelaide, and has been included in many mixed exhibitions. He has won the following awards:

Rockhampton City Council Art Prize

Stanthorpe City Council Art Prize

Toowoomba City Council Art Prize

Redcliffe City Council Art Prize

Queensland Art Gallery Trust Purchase

Gold Coast City Council Art Prize

Lismore Regional Art Prize (3 Times)

Grafton Regional Art Gallery

Murwillumbah Regional Art Gallery

Kempsey Art Prize

Gosford Prize for Drawing

Farmers Young Contemporaries, Sydney

Rotary Prize of Adelaide

Access Contemporary Art Prize

Trinity Art Prize, Lismore

Bentley Art Prize

Flinders University, South Australia

Kyogle Fairymount Festival Prize

De Gruchy Art Prize, Brisbane

Young Contemporaries, Sydney

Most of the above prizes are acquisitive and belong to the collections of those cities.


Michael has been awarded prizes from Judges such as:

Eric Westbrook, The National Gallery of Victoria

Daniel Thomas, National Gallery of Canberra

Kim Bonython

John Massey, Queensland Art Gallery


Lismore Regional Gallery Armidale Regional Gallery exhibition 2011

Art Piece Gallery - Mullumbimby

Roxy Gallery - Kyogle

Grafton Regional Gallery Cooks Hill Gallery - Newcastle

Byron Bay Greenhill Gallery - Adelaide & Perth

Red Hill Gallery – Brisbane

Art Galleries Schubert

Michael’s work is represented in all the above collections as well as:

Byron Fine Arts- Byron Bay

Roxy Gallery -Kyogle

Queensland Art Gallery

Southern Cross University - Lismore

Lismore Regional Gallery

University of New England, Lismore

Murwillumbah Regional Art Gallery

Grafton Regional Art Gallery

Kim Bonython’s Private Collection

Hertz Collection, New York

Private & Corporate Collections in Australia UK and US including The ‘Holbrook Collection’

Queensland University

Flinders University, S.A.


Copyright © 1960 - 2011 Michael John Taylor HOME