Spencer Shakespeare, artist

I just made it happen against the odds of a working class lad from Essex who was told to get a proper job all his life ...

There are few people more appreciative of the Gold Coast’s natural beauty than local artist Spencer Shakespeare. It was 28 years ago when the lad from London got off a Greyhound bus in Palm Beach to start a new life in our sunny city. Almost three decades on, Spencer has paved his way to become a renowned figure in the coast’s art arena, gaining nods for his unique works that are driven and inspired by his main muse – nature. Spencer recently launched a solo exhibition at Currumbin’s Dust Temple, so we took five for a chat about valley vibes, his giant dog and ocean dips.

Tell us a little about your journey to becoming an artist?
Well, it’s who I am and it’s my identity. When I was a kid, I was drawing all of the time and I believed that I was going to be an artist. I was very engaged with the natural world – like, to a ‘geek’ level. One day (back in Essex) when I was young, I was very sick at home and I just started drawing everything I saw and it kind of went from there. I guess I just made it happen against the odds of a working class lad from Essex who was told to get a proper job all his life. I’ve tried not to let the technical things get in the way of me expressing themes.

You’ve just launched an exhibition at Dust Temple called Alchemy Faune – can you tell us a little bit about it what to expect from this new body of work?
I’m very seduced by nature and it’s natural strength. You know, the things that will still be there if we do F up the planet one day! I’m connected to it, and from that comes creation – I am very much working with it. The words Alchemy Faune just paint a picture of changing, evolving and adapting – it’s a natural expression, and an expression of romance. I believe the work does hold its own energy, and I hope visitors engage to a point where they are moved –  I’m quite euphoric when I work, and I hope the pieces make people identify with that and they let go of things that don’t serve their purposes so much.

You’re well known for drawing on the natural world for your work – what are some of your favourite spots for inspiration on the coast?
The valley (Tallebudgera), my garden and the ocean. The ocean is just like a big organism, and I need to get in there daily. My local is out the front of Palm Beach Avenue – that’s where I got off the Greyhound bus 28 years ago! I’m always there with my dog, Chester – he’s a big bear. If I went to the beach without him, he would hate me.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in your career so far?
To be more strategic.

Only a Gold Coast local would know … Palm Beach Avenue is the portal to paradise!

Perk up … Dust Temple and Spikexx – it’s out of control that you can look at the ocean while you’re ordering your coffee.
Dine … Iku and California Tacos.
Relax … the ocean

You can check out Alchemy Faune at Dust Temple until June 23.


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