beyond brett

Whiteley’s Incredible Blue | Barry Dickins


Australian Artist Brett Whiteley is known for lack of inhibition, vibrant expressionism and fluid style. But Whiteley’s Incredible Blue, so named after the incandescent blue used in a number of his paintings, is only the starting point of the latest production from local Melbourne venue, forty fi ve downstairs.

Written by award-winning playwright and Whiteley biographer, Barry Dickins, this is not an exhibition but a poetic installation that carves the tracts of art’s imagination.

Under the direction of Julian Meyrick,  Whiteley’s Incredible Blue offers its audience a rare glimpse into the mythic world of Brett Whiteley and it’s been a process that has been in development for more than a few years.

“I began working on this play in 2002 and at that time Barry’s son was only four and now he’s thirteen so it certainly has been an extended process,” says Meyrick, “But I also feel that now is the time to showcase Barry’s theatrical realism.”

This one hour poetic monologue featuring Neil Pigot and fused with free jazz  by the Calvert George Fine Trio is, according to Meyrick, “a layered audio experience that captures Brett Whiteley’s imagination. If you want to see a painting then go to a gallery but if you want to see how the artistic mind works, then Barry’s writings hold the key.”

Having  grown  up  as  an Australian in London, Meyrick finds himself in a position of functioning both from an inside and outside perspective whereby he could gauge the grip Whiteley’s paintings had on an Australian audience. “I found it quite interesting that regardless whether people are an expert on Brett Whiteley they felt they had some connection with is paintings and that’s what I’d like to tap into.”

Meyrick doesn’t believe in theatrical tricks and gimmicks and his theatre, while modestly described as ‘straightforward,’ accesses the space behind the hard surface of a painting, “that avenue of inspiration, that state of being before we create, that is what I’m interested in.”

Working with Neil Pigot, an actor whom Meyrick has had a long working relationship with, has allowed the show to continuously push themselves so as not to lose the momentum. Moreover, the space of forty five downstairs is ideal as it’s not a standard theatre space.

“This is a highly charged dense package and using the space to create a sense of Whiteley’s relationship with colour in a relatively short time frame is complemented by all the factors involved; the lighting, music, and of course Barry’s insights.