GUY MIRABELLA IN CONVERSATION Casual chats with Peninsula people

We all know you create deliciously aesthetic food, but tell our readers about your love affair with art.

It's not a love affair. Art is a direction, state of mind, a guide for better living. Art for me is an opportunity to move and challenge and make sense of something that I can hold on to.

When did you start your journey as an artist?

CAPTION:  Photo by Natalie Nowotarski

CAPTION: Photo by Natalie Nowotarski

Oh, the ‘j’ word . . . I just can’t remember a time that I wasn't drawing or making things out of paper, wood or grass. Anything I could use to get it out of my head, down my arms, into my fingers and on to paper or dirt. I started drawing birds that were on my parents’ farm in Tyabb — rosellas, kookaburras, magpies and galahs. 

Which medium do you prefer?

Anything that allows me to free-fall with optimism, commitment, originality. I will use whatever it takes to make the mark, squiggle, colour or accident in order to live better.

Tell our readers about the art hanging in Shop Ate Cafe in Mount Eliza.

The art in Shop Ate is diverse. Images of landscapes, abstract expressionism, spoons, plates and whisks sticking out of walls. Things that are seductive. It has a quality that lives and a way of creating seduction with a slow, faded beauty. 

Where has your artwork landed? Have you had any exhibitions?

Up until now my art has been a very private thing, but as I move out of my early 60s and the life of a cafe owner, I will take a voyage and return to that magical time when I was six years old drawing birds.

And what about your book designing and illustration?

For a long time, book design and illustration gave me a better living than trying to live off one’s art. I married young at 22, had children and everything that goes with it. The books were a wonderful way of expressing ideas without losing myself in the process. The years as a book designer were some of the happiest and most rewarding.

Who has influenced your artistic expression?

My parents. How they shared their culture while I was growing up. They are Sicilian. I’ve also found great inspiration from the bush at the back of Tyabb and the Australian landscape. The people I meet every day and the sounds of living and the places I visit also have an influence.

Colour and visual vibrancy play a big part in your food presentation. Is that the same with your art?

Food and art are two very different forms of expression. I've never thought of my cooking as colourful or vibrant — I do it to feed people. Art is to feed me. It could be a black mark on a piece of stone but it's there for me, not you. I'm selfish with my art.

And finally, what’s next art-wise for Guy Mirabella?  

Good question. I don't know. As long as I'm living better, still discovering, still gazing and dreaming, I’m happy.

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