He may spend his days in service of snail mail, but for Richard Claremont, it is the digital revolution that has truly delivered.
The ‘painting postie’ – known to whip up an al fresco mini-masterpiece between delivering letters in suburban Wollongong – is experiencing a late-career boom in demand for his art.
Thirty years after graduating from art school, and without the aid of a gallery, his work has found a wide and appreciative audience online.
”Social media in particular has been very useful and has really brought me the audience that I have,” he said.
“I tend to go outside the gallery system. I think there’s been a change in the way that people consume art. People are happy to look at it online and make their own decisions about what constitutes merit.”
Mr Claremont joined Australia Post 27 years ago after graduating from Sydney College of the Arts. His mail run recently moved from Mangerton to Gwynneville - close to the Botanic Gardens and a wealth of new creative fodder.
“I certainly have a lot of inspirational scenery to work with now,” he said.
“Just the ordinary streets are very appealing, the old trees and the old weatherboard houses are particularly evocative.”
Mr Claremont’s recent exhibition "Remembered Landscapes" was a near-sellout, with 25 paintings attracting red stickers and several commissions following.
The interest is now enough for him to make a living off art alone.
He has cut back his postie hours, but is in no hurry to give away the job completely.
“It gives me an excuse to get out of the studio. It’s physical, it’s outdoors and I like having a bit of blank space in my life just to think about art.” he said.
Late last year Mr Claremont picked up the $15,000 ANL Maritime Art prize. He has since made several recent appearances on national television in “painting postie’ mode. He believes part of the romance of his story lies in the fond feelings people associate with postal deliveries.
“I think the postman is a fairly iconic figure in Australian history. We’ve all got memories of the postman delivering that special delivery or parcel, or waiting out by the gate to collect the mail as a child.”
A frequent jetsetter, Mr Claremont has an exhibition coming up in Hong Kong and is bound for Paris and Portugal – where he will deliver an art workshop – later this year.
Visit www.richardclaremont.com to see more of Mr Claremont’s art.