I am Paul Donohoe, and I am an artist. I was about to write, ‘I am, among other things, an artist’. However, in reality an artist is the sum total of all that she or he is, done, seen, or experienced. Art is not just a job, career or even ‘just a hobby’. Being an artist is more than merely a way of being, it is what and who I am, or you are if you are an artist.
So, here is a short ‘biography’ of me, which I hope will give you some clue as to who I am.
I was born in Australia into a military family. As a result, I spent all of my childhood and teenage years moving from one of my father’s postings to another. When I was twelve and thirteen my father was posted twice to Vietnam as part of the Australian commitment to its American allies in the war in that country. It would be fair to say that that war and its consequences for me and my family have really had a powerful impact on me on many levels, including of course in my attitude to art (please see my ‘Artist’s Statement’).
Just after I turned 17 my father was posted to England, and I had a choice: stay with friends and finish high school, or travel first class on a cruise ship for six weeks to Europe. Tough choice eh? Not really. Suffice it to say, the voyage was an experience never to be repeated, and in a very real way that decision set me on the journey that has become the rest of my life.
I hitchhiked through Europe on and off for a couple of years in the early seventies. A time of great upheaval in the culture of youth and of society generally. I married, and a son was born. Meanwhile I worked at a number of jobs, not sure of where I belonged, what ‘career’ was for me. Actually, this isn’t true: I never really wanted a career. I wanted to drink wine, write poetry and travel.
So I did, on and off. All the while, I made photographs and looking back now, I see I had the sensibility of a street photographer even then. But, a family, poverty and rootlessness did not, for me at least, provide me with the opportunity at that stage of my life to pursue that genre in any depth. I was always the artist though: writing poetry, and all that goes with such a way of life. And then came divorce and the meeting of and falling in love with my current partner. That was thirty years ago.
I have travelled extensively; I think at last count I have visited 40 something countries. But probably more significantly I have spent extended periods in several: India, New Zealand, Canada, England, and of course I have travelled to most ‘corners’ of Australia, some many times.
I have worked at numerous jobs and done many kinds of work: social work, child care, security guard, factory worker, call centre operator, public (civil) servant, dog trainer, journalist for a newspaper, teaching English language in places ranging from a university, private schools to a refugee camp, radio station manager (my current volunteer gig in fact). And others too. In recent years for health reasons, I have not been able to hold down a ‘regular’ job.
I have therefore, within the context of my ill health, had the opportunity, through the gift of time, to pursue my art. Initially that was purely in the field of writing, now it is photography. Mainly street photography.
In October 2012 my partner and I hit the road once more after a few years in the small (10,000) city of Echuca on the Murray River in Australia. In the year and a bit since I have travelled in the United Kingdom, Europe and now we are in Australia once again. It’s a life of exploring, living in so many places (thanks to housesitting we see all kinds of places and meet all kinds of people we would never have otherwise), photographing in the streets and just generally living a good travelling life.
A biography should include something of the future; so what’s next? More photography, and writing too (please read my blog). More travel (can’t see that changing!), more exploration of life and art. More joy and love with my partner, who is an artist of great love and compassion and abilities. More living. More sharing of my art with the world.
That’s enough for anyone don’t you think?
Thank you for taking the time to, not only visit my site, but to read this not so little about me.