Meet the artists: Joe Whyte

Meet the artists: Joe Whyte

Joe Whyte in his studio, 2024. Photo by Luana Rigolli
Joe Whyte in his studio, 2024. Photo by Luana Rigolli

An interview with Joe Whyte, William Fletcher Foundation Resident, in which he speaks about the work he has produced during his residency at the BSR from March to June 2024, ahead of the Summer Open Studios. 

Could you tell us more about the research you are developing during your three-month residency at the British School at Rome?

My work over the past few years has been largely focused on streetscapes and urban scenes of my local suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. Having spent all my life living in Melbourne, I have always related to the idea of landscape in terms of those familiar streets which I have walked down countless times. I have drawn so much inspiration from both the architecture and the light of my home.

I see my work in portraying these scenes as a vehicle to explore themes of belonging and isolation within the city, and to explore my ever changing relationship with place.

With arriving at the BSR, my aims were to explore these themes within an unfamiliar city, and to see the similarities and also the differences in the way I reacted to the city.

A copy of Bernini’s David, drawn on location at Galleria Borghese. Pencil on card.
A study from Tiber Island, oil on linen

Has the exploration of the unfamiliar surrounds of Rome changed your work since your arrival? If so how?

Arriving in Rome, I had an idea that I would continue on a similar path to that which I had followed in Australia. However I have been swayed by the powerful artistic history which is so present all over Rome. Both the architecture and the sculptures have shaped my view of the city in powerful ways. The history of place is present in daily life in a way which is impossible to ignore.

As a foreigner, the unfamiliarity of the landscapes and artwork creates something of a disconnect within me. I find myself at times drawn to, and at others disconcerted by the surrounds here in Rome. There is an undeniable beauty to the city, but I am also finding myself at times torn by the contrast between the beauty and the complicated history of Rome. 

Ponte Fabricio. Oil on linen
Victor Hugo. A response to the incredible public sculpture of Villa Borghese. Painted on location over many sessions. Oil on linen.

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