Australia has bestowed artist and television host Graeme Stevenson with one of the country’s highest honors for his dedication to promoting the visual arts with his TV show “Colour In Your Life.”
“I’m really honored to be recognized by my country,” Stevenson told Park West Gallery. “I never started any of this to get awards, I just wanted to do something to help the arts in general and put it back on the plate in front of people.”
Australia Day is the official national day of Australia, celebrating the arrival of the first fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales in 1788. The holiday serves as a day where Australian citizens are recognized by the government.
Recipients of the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) must be Australian citizens and can be nominated by anyone. The Council for the Order of Australia reviews the nominees, who are in turn approved by the Governor-General. Stevenson fell into the General Division, which recognizes “service worthy of particular recognition.”
The Australian government awarded Stevenson “for service to the visual arts.” Specifically, Stevenson is being recognized for “Colour In Your Life,” his TV series that has profiled artists from around the globe for the past six years. With more than 200 episodes filmed, Stevenson says the goal is to create “a database or a library of these minds for future generations.” The show is based on Stevenson meeting with artists and capturing their thoughts and techniques on film.
“I thought if you had this sort of knockabout guy that introduced art to the 95 percent of the other people that never get to understand or see art, I thought that’s really the way to go,” he says.
Stevenson says the show continues to grow in popularity, and has hopes of opening the series in Canada and England in 2017. He says there is interest in bringing the show to Greece and India as well.
In addition to his TV show, Stevenson’s accomplishments include illustrating “The Atlas of Parrots” in 1991, one of the largest editions in the world regarding parrots, and establishing the “Paint Your Life Fund” in 2013. This non-profit organization provides art therapy and creative relief to those less fortunate.
“We really changed their lives a great deal in the time we were doing that, and I like to think in the future ‘Paint Your Life’ is something we could potentially put together in the United States,” Stevenson says.