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My various art ventures

Over the last forty years I have worked mostly as a writer and book publisher but I have occasionally produced illustrations for commercial reproduction – some were jackets for my own books and others were graphic illustrations for friends whose work was being published. I originally worked in coloured inks but in the late 1970s switched to pastels while also occasionally experimenting with collage. My father, Ted Drury (1920-1979), who was a graphic artist and college lecturer in Sydney and Perth, was very much an inspiration and his only surviving work is illustrated here.

My first book was a children’s book, Kingdom of the Night-time, and it took me five years to find a publisher. The drawings took me a year to produce and the book came out in 1975. It wasn’t a commercial success but apparently was very popular with hippies in Queensland who liked the psychedelic children’s graphics!  I realise now that some of the cosmological themes I explored in ink drawings in the late 1960s are still with me. I love spontaneous calligraphic forms and still use them. Some of my more recent pastel drawings, exhibited at Coast Gallery in Milton on the NSW south coast in early 2009 have a thematic connection with work done in the late 1960s. Here is a selection of work produced over the last forty years. There are big gaps in my personal artwork. After my father died in 1979 – at the relatively young age of 58 – I didn’t feel like producing many original drawings and didn’t produce anything much until 2008 – a long time between drinks! My most recent pastel, Ascent, is reproduced below.
How it all developed…
This fantasy ink drawing of a mythical beast began life as a doodle and became the prototype for other creatures included in Kingdom of the Night-time. The book was experimental in structure and as I mentioned earlier took several years to find a publisher. It wasn’t my first published book, however. The Search for Abraxas, a book on the Western magical tradition co-authored with Stephen Skinner, was my first publication – it came out in London in 1972.

Mythical Beast, ink, 1969

My earliest book, produced in 1970
and published in 1975

One of the fantasy animals in Kingdom of the Night-time

Meanwhile, I had been experimenting with coloured inks and arbitrary calligraphic forms. These appear in early sketches like Op71 but also show up in the drawing of an ouzo drinker produced for Martin Johnston’s collection of Greek poems, Ithaka (Island Press, 1973) and in the sketch of a magician reproduced on the cover of my book The Shaman and the Magician (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London 1982) .This drawing also appeared on the cover of the first issue of the Australian counterculture magazine, Cosmos, in 1973.

Op71, an early ink drawing
 Book cover, 1982
Illustration for Ithaka, 1973

Here are some other early drawings:

Suspicion, ink 1969
Untitled, ink 1969
 Logos One, ink 1969

My best early pastel drawing, The Secret Alphabet, 1979, was inspired by my father’s pastel forms – he had introduced me to this medium a couple of years earlier:

The Secret Alphabet, pastel, 1979
 Ted Drury, untitled pastel, 1975

Meanwhile, inspired by one of my favourite artists, Max Ernst, and San Francisco artist Satty – who I interviewed for my 1979 book Inner Visions, I had begun to explore collage and montage. I used this technique to create a collage featuring the face of ceremonial magician Aleister Crowley – this image was later used on the cover of my book Don Juan, Mescalito and Modern Magic (Routledge & Kegan Paul 1978). I also created a collage for the cover of Beyond the Mechanical Mind by Peter Fry and Malcolm Long (Australian Broadcasting Commission, 1977):

Book cover, 1978

Publicity for
Beyond the Mechanical Mind,

As I mentioned earlier, after 1979 I had a lengthy hiatus when it came to creating artwork until I moved to the south coast of New South Wales. In 2008 I produced several small pastel drawings which were exhibited in Coast Galleries, Milton in February-March 2009. I have since continued in this vein although I am not currently exhibiting. Here are some examples of my recent work:

Nocturne, pastel, 2008
  Rebirth, pastel, 2008
Ascent, pastel, 2011

You can buy Nevill's books from these recommended resellers...
Abe Books - CAN/EU, Amazon - UK, Amazon - US, Barnes & Noble - US

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