Faithful and meticulous paintings of the Australian bush and its people have secured Bill O’Shea an international following and continue to inspire the unassuming artist.

Story & photos by Mark Griggs

When Bill O’Shea told his boss he was “pulling the plug”, the retort was he had to find his replacement first. He talked a friend into taking his place and, in 1974, stepped into the competitive world of painting. At the time, this now-renowned bush artist was designing posters and selling art supplies to the screen process printing industry in Sydney. At night, he lectured at the School of Graphic Arts in Ultimo, Sydney, teaching stencil cutting, photographic stencils and silkscreen printing.
“Back then any painting selling at up to $20 wasn’t bad money,” Bill says. Today Bill, who now lives in the central west of NSW, has achieved worldwide acclaim with his unique translation of Australia’s rural scenes. According to one of the people responsible for attracting him to the region, Stuart Town local Eric Gough, the O’Shea style “struck a responsive chord with his distinctively dramatic and beautiful depictions of the Australia we all recognise and hold precious. His interpretations of woolsheds, homesteads, pubs and farming scenes are precious now since we seem to pull down the old and attractive to replace it with the new and ugly.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #44

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2006