Down-under wonder: Carrollton artist brings aboriginal works to Oxford gallery
by Kiri Lanice Walton
Star Staff Writer
Jul 23, 2010 | 3299 views |  0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jonathan Edwards, known artistically as “Aussie Jon,” paints aboriginal art on a vase. His paintings, which also have an aboriginal flair, are on display at J.C. Morgan Art Gallery in Quintard Mall. Photo: Special to The Star
Jonathan Edwards, known artistically as “Aussie Jon,” paints aboriginal art on a vase. His paintings, which also have an aboriginal flair, are on display at J.C. Morgan Art Gallery in Quintard Mall. Photo: Special to The Star
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Maybe it’s the accent — he was born in an “itty bitty” English village that no longer exists and then moved to Australia in his 20s. It might be his hands, which are always flying and pointing and clapping to explain the points of his many captivating stories. More than anything, it’s likely the vivid, captivating stories themselves about his extraordinary life experiences.

Whatever it is, Jonathan Edwards, an artist and storyteller from Carrollton, Ga., has it, and he is nothing if not intriguing. His entire life sounds like an Oscar-worthy movie that has a little bit of everything: action, mystery, creativity and most importantly, passion — and he’s only in his 50s.

Some of the artwork of Aussie Jon, as he calls himself, is on display and for sale at the J.C. Morgan art gallery in Quintard Mall. Most of his work is inspired by aboriginal Australians, especially the handcrafted boomerangs and didgeridoos, which are long wooden instruments traditionally made from a hard wood that create a droning sound.

“I always really enjoyed art, but was not the kid who succeeded in art classes,” Edwards said. “I loved doing the pottery, but my pottery never really came out right.”

Now, Edwards creates everything from paintings to men’s neckties (though he’s “not a necktie person), women’s scarves, earrings (which he tried on after finishing his first pair since his ears are pieced from his “younger, wild days,”) wooden crafts, kimonos (because he was inspired by a friend who studied print and fabric in Japan but died from cancer) and he began photography in 2001.

“I don’t do Photoshop,” he said. “People often say to me, ‘Oh, I love the way you put the sky in.’ I didn’t put the sky in. The sky was already there. I took the photograph of it.”

He just returned from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he photographed how the Brazilians celebrated, watched and reveled in the World Cup.

He has been all over the world because of his work with the British military and then with the Australian defense department. In total, he spent more than 20 years working in defense for both countries.

Even while on naval ships, Edwards always found a way to make time for his art.

Around 1989 or 1990, “to my amazement, I started selling paintings,” he said. “That was the day I knew that working for defense had finished.”

After moving to the United States with his American wife, he taught pre-K for six years to help supplement his income from his art.

He still continues his travels with his family or as artistic ventures and has been to nearly every continent, except Antarctica.

When he’s not traveling, he is at home with his wife and their youngest son, Mark. Their other three children range from 18 to 29.

He also travels throughout the Southeast, mostly Georgia, telling stories to children in libraries. He is an official storyteller for the state, and he incorporates his didgeridoo into his stories.

“I like to make stories up from bits and pieces of what happened as a child with me and my sister. Of course, I have to enhance them a bit, add extras to them to make them a story.”

On Saturday, Edwards will be one of the many artists featured at the J.C. Morgan gallery’s meet-and-greet event from 6-9 p.m.
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