This is one of the most delightful books I received during 2017. A hard cover book, lavishly illustrated with the author’s art (both his paintings and his photographs) and complemented with the very personal story behind each one.
The term ‘Renaissance man’ is not often used now but I think it could certainly be applied to Michael Rubbo. Grandson of a highly regarded artist, son of a microbiologist and an artist, he inherited talents which could have allowed him pursue any number of careers.
He qualified as an anthropologist, but chose instead to follow a career in film, photography, art and now writing (with a bit of cycling on the side).
He lived overseas for many years, enjoying life in a small village in Canada where he established himself as the ‘village artist’. He was lured back to Australia by an invitation to become the Head of documentary film making at the ABC, a role in which he was very active and produced award winning films.
These included Vincent and Me, which necessitated his painting of a painting a number of reproductions of the original Van Gogh creations.
This was his first venture into the use of oil paints and he found he loved it and created a series of works which could have come from the brush of Van Gogh himself. He spoke of the recent film Loving Vincent, which he had very much enjoyed.
Michael shares a great deal of himself in this book, including the agony of being a teenager suffering from acute acne and we also share the anguish of a number of broken love affairs before he met his wife Katya, herself an artist.
A number of his paintings are of street scenes and interiors and these reflect the style of some of the earlier artworks of his mother. Unlike many artists, he is happy to set up his easel in public places, such as shop windows, and enjoys having a chat with companions as he paints.
He is a great conversationalist, as I discovered during our interview on the Good Life on 3MDR, and he deviated on several occasions to share stories beyond his art. These included his new interest in bikes and towards the end of the book there are numerous scenes where the bike is the hero!
In the role he enjoys as ‘village artist’, he explained that often he would hang his paintings in a local shop, such as the butcher’s, for the community to enjoy. He still pursues this practice, I’m sure to the delight of the local population. I was amused to see a page devoted to paintings of elaborately decorated cakes which he had created in an attempt to assist the baker. However, the outcome was less than happy! (Read about it in the
I promise you hours of entertainment and pleasure from this book and you will feel after reading it that you know its author very well indeed.
He was charming to interview and I enjoyed both his company and this lovely book.
The Good Life on 3MDR – 97.1 FM, streaming on http://www.3mdr.com Live to air every Monday 3.00-5.00 P.M.