When I visit painter Mick Turner’s studio just a couple of days before the launch of his new show at Brunswick's Tinning Street, he’s still taking new works to the gallery. He knows they might not be included. Despite the fact that the show, entitled I Knew This Would Happen, is limited to work produced this year, the walls are heaving with bright paintings and the odd sculpture.
"I’ve been interested in the way colour can affect mood," says Turner, "and playing with the effects of colour on the psyche. I’ve been inspired a lot by people like Rothko. I’m not going to try and paint like him, but it's fascinating how powerful his work is without the presence of any figures or landscapes."
His paintings are equal parts welcoming, bright and chaotic. Abstracted figures sleep in thickly layered, crooked landscapes. Thylacines curl into tentacle-like foliage, all rendered in bright blues, greens and oranges. It's a wild, hidden world, and the extinct thylacine is something Turner finds himself coming back to again and again. "It’s a symbol that needs to be out there," says Turner. "I think we all need to think about what can happen when not enough care is taken."
You might know Turner from his other job as one-third of post-rock outfit Dirty Three, where he handles guitars and organs, as well as painting the band's distinctive album covers. It's easy to associate his music with the evocative, untamed sounds of the Dirty Three, but for Turner, they're separate.
"I can count all the record sleeves I’ve done on ... " Turner takes a moment to calculate, "… three hands. But I’ve done hundreds of paintings."
"I don’t really relate the two," he says. "But I guess the difference between music and art is mass production, and mass sharing." It's nice, he says, that his work gets out there on record sleeves, and isn't just confined to a single wall. "Some people might have a problem with mass producing an image of a painting," says Turner. "But I don’t." His studio, handily just across the laneway from the gallery, is littered with half-finished works, and doubles as a rehearsal and recording space for his music. Despite the proliferation of creative work, he balks at the idea that he's prolific.
But there are plenty of works on show just across the laneway that say otherwise.
All the works are on sale, but if you can't afford an original Mick Turner, just buy a Dirty Three LP and prop it up on your wall.
I Knew This Would Happen runs until November 15.