Ray Frisken – from pigeon whispering to art appreciation


An afternoon spent chatting with the delightful Ray Frisken is an uplifting experience.

A modest man with a thirst for knowledge and a desire to share, Ray has been informing the Gold Coast arts community through his ‘Gold Coast Art Newsflash’ publication for close to 10 years. His boundless energy is inspirational. Motivated by his interest in all matters visual he is the voice of the Gold Coast art community. The Newsflash showcases feature artists, keeps a regular listing of local exhibitions, events, workshops and competitions as well as reviews of exhibitions. Working non for profit and spurred by the lack of information on art events on the Gold Coast, Ray’s Art Flash had a modest beginning.

“I never intended it be more than a small reference.” Ray commented.

When Ray searched for information about what was on, there was no single source he could go to. “I enquired of lots of other artists but the results were always – I have no idea.”

So Ray started compiling information and sharing it by email with fellow artists. The mailing list rapidly expanded and now exceeds 400.

With this enthusiasm for art, it was interesting when replaying our conversation to note this request: “Don’t make me out to be a good artist, because I’m not.” After a brief wander through his house I feel the urge to query that comment. His studies are beautiful and his use of light intense at times. I can see that while his art career is relatively fresh, his ability to observe and appreciate what is effective in the art that surrounds him and absorb and reinterpret that knowledge is quite clear. He has a critical and analytical mind and his art reflects this.

While he had no connection with arts as a child, “ I always had a deep appreciation of lovely things, but never wanted to draw or copy what I saw.” I think it is this appreciation that lies at the heart of his work.

Interestingly, in his youth, Ray bred racing pigeons for show. He was also a massage therapist. So when exactly did this artistic transformation occur – from nestling up and chatting with pigeons to becoming an artist’s resource?

“About 15 years ago a client tried to persuade me into going to her art class to try to see if it might interest me. She mentioned that she thought I had artist’s hands, whatever that could mean.”

Ray was not convinced initially (despite his lovely hands), however after a series of clever ploys, she finally won him over – and we are all the better for it!

The master of diplomacy, Ray is evasive when asked about about his interviews and the characters he has met. I imagined wild scenes with the Jackson Pollock’s of this world, but Ray’s too kind to share that kind of story. He is animated and his eyes light up at the mention of quirky folk like the vivacious Ursula Kelly – an afternoon of giggles and photographs. Or the time he interviewed Anne Smerdon with her constant bird companion perched on her shoulder. “Everyone is different – they are all wonderful people. It’s a real thrill to meet them and after a while they open up.”

When asked about his favourite exhibition, he didn’t hesitate. “The D’arcy Doyle. It’s a long way ahead. A great exhibition, fantastic space, artists performing and now becoming national – even a little international.”

The nature of art is a fascinating topic, and I think most people agree that as individuals, we all hold opinions and ideas about what is and isn’t effective artistically. It seemed only natural find out what appealed to Ray in an artwork. Ray likes discovering the background and motivation behind a particular work. What the artist was doing. Why they were fascinated by that particular subject/technique. Everyone has a story to tell, and it is the stories that help make connections. While he thoroughly enjoys looking at interesting work in galleries, and appreciates the beauty that he sees there, the work he appreciates in that context is not necessarily the work he would like to take home. “Some pieces are a pleasure to the eye, but not to keep.”

Ray invites readers who are not already receiving the Art Newsflash to contact him and be added to his mailing list. Email him at artnewsflash@gmail.com

Thank you for your wonderful support and enthusiasm Ray (VE editor)