(William Harper Reid aka Sirj aka Sirjé aka Shorty Forty)
When Western 4WDriver magazine held a “Write Your Best Adventure” competition, a debut article by someone called Shorty Forty was awarded first prize of a $900 set of BF Goodrich All Terrain off-road tyres. He acquired this 'nick-name’ from the local 4WD community because he drives a short wheel base FJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser. His close friends know him by the name of Sirjé. The editor of the magazine invited the writer to contribute more articles, and these grew into a widely read and popular column. Sirjé himself, a thin and rangy man with a laconic delivery, became a marketing attraction. He was asked to endorse a variety of products and businesses related to travelling in the outback, and this led to advertising appearances at 4WD and caravan and camping exhibitions and radio interviews.
It was relatively easy, he says, to make the transition from a story-telling pen to a story-telling paintbrush. At an art camp instructed by Campbell Cornish, curator for the WA. Art Gallery for 20 years, it was explained that Aboriginal imagery was basically a story-telling of the landscape. After illustrating the meaning of a number of symbols, he encouraged each student to use Aboriginal imagery and the medium of painting to tell the story of a special place or experience says Sirjé: “I started to realize that through this form and philosophy of painting I could merge together all my past skills into the one beautiful process.”
The skills he’s talking about include perspective, proportion, content, composition, design and mix of colours, all coming from a twenty five year career in the offset printing industry. Bushcraft, creative writing, poetry, 4x4 adventuring, photography and meditation also contribute to and enhance the imagery he creates through brushwork and paint. Sirjé was born William Harper Reid on April the 3rd 1961 in Adelaide, South Australia. He was educated at Neerigen Brook Primary and Armadale Senior High School, and has travelled in North America, India, New Zealand, Indonesia and all over Australia. His plans for the future include more travelling and painting. He says: “The process, style and subliminal connection expressed through the medium of painting inspire the source of my integrity.”
- An Appreciation
"In his day-to-day occupation, Sirjé is a printer for a fast print shop, he gets paid to survey form, colour and texture. After all those years he has a very sharp eye. He also does the fourwheel drive thing, taking photographs in the wilderness. A few years ago he began to paint with printer’s ink - scenes from his journeys, painting from imagination and photographs. He has a poetic vision of landscapes. So what? So this ... There are millions of landscape painters in this world and most of them are trained to paint. So there is a tone of similarity in the vision and execution of their works. They have studied to the point of killing their unique individual views, their visions, their poetry. The student, the lecturer and the working artist are big on clever and short on poetry. Trained to think and trained to produce and to conform: the tyranny of trained taste.
Fortunately, for me at least, Sirjé has escaped that tragic process. He is trained to print. He is not trained to make fine art. Most artist’s works do not get me excited, not even my own. I’ve seen a lot of art and I like a lot of what I’ve seen. I also like milkshakes. It’s hard to get excited about art or milkshakes. Occasionally it happens and I’m happy that it does, or I’d stay away from exhibitions and Fast Eddies. So this too. When I saw Sirjé’s paintings for the first time I felt excitement. The guy had told his story, a common story, in a unique way. Van Gogh’s Sunflowers is a very mundane story lifted up to the heights by the poetic gifts of the storyteller. Cezanne’s still-lifes are in the same arena. And though you may object, Sirjé has a unique way of telling the story so I don’t mind putting his name with theirs. Sirjé may also object. Let him. I am merely saying something about vision and poetry and execution. Vincent, bless him, would never have made the grade in our art schools. He and Cezanne, along with quite a number of others, were vilified for the visions they put on canvas, paper, cardboard, whatever. Unique inventions, unique individuals. So I am not going to review the paintings. Go and see them for yourself. I’m reviewing the individual vision that is Sirjé’s gift. In a world that appears to be overflowing with artists, and good on’em, such a vision is rarer than rocking-horse shit." (Sw Satraj)
- Hamilton Hill WA
- Mobile: 0426-815-743
- a few more paintings