Exploring the arty side on Noosa

ART ROYALTY: Peter Phillips, godfather of British Pop Art.
ART ROYALTY: Peter Phillips, godfather of British Pop Art.

I've just emerged from Peter Phillips' gallery near Noosa with three pairs of signed designer socks, but much more importantly I've spent half an hour chatting with the 80-year-old godfather of British Pop Art, now firmly ensconced in the warmer climes of southern Queensland.

Peter, who worked alongside fame such as Andy Warhol, Brett Whitley and David Hockney, is much better known in England than on the Sunshine Coast but that doesn't stop the dapper Pom from showing off his wares and his charming oldish dog, even if his artworks had been packed up just days earlier ready for a bushfire-induced evacuation.

ICONIC: Mitchell English, famous for his bluebottles.

ICONIC: Mitchell English, famous for his bluebottles.

Much of his work is vibrantly coloured and filled with images drawn from popular culture - a real treat to experience.

Art on the walls includes famous pieces such as Loop di Loop.

The gallery is the last stop on a jaunt with Art Tours Noosa's Craig Stuart (phone 0424 456 877; visit www.arttoursnoosa.com).

The company is certainly doing its bit to ensure that the Sunshine Coast has much more than its excellent beaches to keep pulling visitors back.

COLOURFUL: Saren Dobkins' work covers a range of thoughtful issues.

COLOURFUL: Saren Dobkins' work covers a range of thoughtful issues.

It's something that the area does particularly well and one of Peter Phillips' side projects has been the creation of a gin - OP of course - in conjunction with Tim Crabtree's local brewery/distillery.

(But that really is another story for another time; as is the remarkably diverse hinterland.)

I also meet artist Mitchell English - he of the famous, beautiful and quite threatening, bluebottles - and noted ceramist Rowley Drysdale.

TALENT: Rowley Drysdale is one of Australia's leading ceramic artists.

TALENT: Rowley Drysdale is one of Australia's leading ceramic artists.

As well I visit the converted Butter Factory Arts Centre in the hinterland town of Cooroy. It's a great initiative, with three gallery spaces and a fairly constant turnover of work, including a series of large, deceptively bright paintings by Zambian artist Saren Dobkins, whose work covers a range of thoughtful issues, some of them quite personal.

They're all leaders in their respective fields in Australia and it's a privilege to chat with them in their actual work environments.

The tour is great and shows me an arty side of the Sunshine Coast I didn't know existed.

ART TOURS: Craig Stuart is doing his bit for Noosa's diversity.

ART TOURS: Craig Stuart is doing his bit for Noosa's diversity.

And how are the socks going? Well, I'm happy.

For further information about the Sunshine Coast, go to www.visitsunshinecoast.com.