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December 03, 2023 3 min read

The following is a re-posting of the article that appeared in The Manly Daily, 26 Nov 2023 

Mitchell English: Aussie artist reflects on nostalgic northern beaches homecoming for ‘Mirror Maze’ exhibition

Jim O’Rourke

2 min read·November 26, 2023 - 6:17PM

Manly Daily

Australian artist Mitchell English in his studio at Noosa, on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, where he has been preparing for his solo “Mirror Maze” exhibition, opening on Saturday at the Sydney Road Gallery, Balgowlah. Picture: Supplied

“I’ve always been obsessed with the freedom that you feel when there’s nothing between you and the elements, but a pair of swimmers.”

This is the creative motivation behind the striking, sun-soaked beach paintings of acclaimed Australian artist Mitchell English.

Born in Manly, English developed his deep love of the beach and the surf from the time he would throw his arms around his father Robert’s neck, as they plunged into the break at South Steyne when he was a boy.

He has made a nostalgic homecoming from his base on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, to open his latestsolo-exhibition on the northern beaches.

The exhibition, which runs until December 9, opened on Saturday at the Sydney Road Gallery, Balgowlah.

Sydney Road Gallery, Mitchell English ‘Mirror Maze’ solo exhibition Picture: Supplied

With his paintings described as “iconic” and embodying the “Australian coastal dream”, English has been working in his Noosa studio on a new collection for the past two years.

His “Mirror Maze” exhibition opens this Saturday at the Sydney Road Gallery in Balgowlah.

English, who left a career as a graphic artist in the media and advertising industries to study fine arts and become a painter more than 30 years ago, said he called on his childhood memories of entering the classic mirrored maze at the long gone Manly Fun Pier as the creative inspiration for his new collection.

When the surf was flat English and his mates would make their way to the amusement pier for hours and “lose themselves” in its popular maze made up of hundreds of mirrors.

“I’ve used the mirror maze as a title of the exhibition to connect people with what I’m on about.Nostalgia these days is looked at being a bit of a dirty word, it’s seen as regressive.

Sydney Road Gallery, Mitchell English ‘Mirror Maze’ solo exhibition  Picture: Supplied

“But there are elements of nostalgia that are quite OK, that we can connect to.It’s a past that was much more simple and not as complicated, like the Manly Fun Pier.It was a formative part of my childhood and why I paint the way I do.”

English also reflected on his childhood where his father and uncles were swimmers and bodysurfers with deep connections to Manly and the beach “because they were always there”.

Sydney Road Gallery, Mitchell English ‘Mirror Maze’ solo exhibition Picture: Supplied

“My father would take me to the beach. I remember being at South Steyne, I was probably about three or four years old, and just hanging on to his neck as he’d go out, dolphin-like, through the waves, and I’d be on his back.He was big bloke and we’d catch a wave. It was like riding the original Surf-O-Planes.”

English said he also became aware that the beach was a place where there were no divisions based on a class structure and where you could feel a shared sense of freedom with others.

“There a lot of other sports and pastimes where you need protection, but when swimming, bodysurfing or board riding in the ocean, its not like that. It’s just a piece of cloth between you and the elements.

“And when it comes to the beach, all bets are off, everyone is equal. There is no race, class or religious distinction and that’s what’s nice about Australian beaches.”

Sydney Road Gallery, Mitchell English ‘Mirror Maze’ solo exhibition Picture: Supplied

English has exhibited his work in venues including the Sydney Powerhouse Museum and the University of Western Sydney and his painting hang on the walls of private collectors from Australia to Europe, Asia, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK and USA.

“Mirror Maze” opens at the Sydney Road Gallery, 451 Sydney Road, Balgowlah, at 3pm on Saturday, November 25 and will run until December 9.




Patricia Tring and Danielle Seisun. Picture: Thomas Lisson

Graham Hoade. Picture: Thomas Lisson

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