THE ROAD TO SOMEWHERE EXHIBITION
Newmarch Gallery, Prospect – 9 October 2020
DAVID BLIGHT – PAINTER, SCULPTOR, MUSICIAN, PAGEANT FLOAT CREATOR & CHILDRENS BOOK ILLUSTRATOR
Posted by Barry Crabtree on Saturday, January 4, 2020
Scrolling lazily through Facebook on a Friday evening, as you do, I noticed a very modest Event post for an exhibition centered around Dave Blight’s children’s books illustrations and including a selection of pieces that span his entire artistic body of work. Although a free event, with Covid restrictions, you needed to book, so I did that promptly. I dragged Father of Five off to the exhibition – soooo not his thing – but you know, happy wife, happy life! Or maybe it was the promise of wine, nibbles and live music that ultimately won him over.
Arriving at the gallery a little late (what’s new!), Dave Blight and Mick Kidd are holding court, playing their cool distinctive style of acoustic blues, Dave on harmonica, Mick on guitar. The atmosphere is very chilled and relaxed. People strolling through the artworks on display, chatting in small groups, enjoying a glass of wine (whilst seated of course!) or simply enjoying the music.
David Blight is such a multi-talented artist.
I first came across David as the harmonica player for iconic Australian band Cold Chisel. Dave’s involvement with the band came about through one of those sliding doors moments.
Leaving school at 17 he could choose work making props at the Display Art Studio of major Adelaide department store, John Martins, or entrance into the SA School of Art. He chose the former.
This path led Dave to the iconic John Martins Christmas Pageant where worked on and off for over 40 years, from 1976 to 2018.
Dave playing harmonica on Australian music anthem Khe Sanh eventuated from his firm friendship with Cold Chisel bass player Phil Small whilst they worked together at ‘Johnies’.
Brothers Phil and Dave Small and Dave, who attended Henley High School, were in the process of forming a band when Phil was nabbed to play bass for Cold Chisel. Soon enough Dave was called to rock out on stage with his harmonica, and as they say, the rest is history.
Having five children, Mr Crabtree and I have attended many many (did I mention many?) Christmas Pageants. We spent years taking turns securing a good vantage point at 6am for a 10am pageant, from pouring rain, to 40 degree heat. Dave’s artistic influences can be recognised in such a large number of our now iconic floats.
Although Father Christmas may hang up his sack after Christmas, float development and maintenance never stops. Dave could be found painting monsters or fairies, spraying North Pole snow onto floats, designing new floats and lovingly caring for our much-loved favourites.
Just last Christmas I was lucky enough to fulfil a life-long dream of performing in the Christmas Pageant, after graduating from Clown School. I broke my toe in two places a couple of days beforehand but the show must go on!! I was the clown with the green wig and the limp!!
The exhibition was a huge success, everyone had a wonderful time and importantly, there were many red ‘sold’ stickers on the pieces.
Dave, now 67 years old, is enjoying playing music and creating art, two things he is very good at.
His colourful illustrations for the children’s book ‘The Road To Somewhere’ written by Josephine Croser, are happy and vibrant. His clever sculptures remind us of mythical creatures found on fairytale floats and his paintings are as aesthetically pleasing as they are artistically accomplished. I particularly loved the two self-portraits.
If you have the opportunity to see Dave perform, do it, and if you get the opportunity to see Dave’s art, do that too.
Even Father of Five was suitably impressed and extremely pleased he had been dragged along!!