Looking back, I realise I’ve always followed my nose. No Plan. I must have a very good guardian angel because somehow it’s always turned out for the best.

After a stint of school teaching, I ran the Institute of Contemporary Art in Sydney in the mid-1970s. Then I returned to academe, teaching in the post-graduate English as a Foreign Language Programme at Sydney University, running it for some years and hauling in a Master in Applied Linguistics along the way.

All the while – nearly 20 years – I lived a double life. From 1985 to 2002 I was Visual and Performing Arts Critic for the Australian Financial Review. In the mid-1990s I was a producer and presenter on SBS TV’s arts show, Imagine as well as writing books and essays on the visual arts and the theatre. I managed to fit in a PhD on ritual in 20th Century theatre, focussing on the work of Australian playwright, Jack Hibberd. Post-Sydney University I taught in undergraduate and post-graduate visual arts and design programmes at the University of New South Wales.

Then architecture entered the picture. I edited Monument magazine (twice!) before becoming Editorial Director at Indesign Media. Here, over more than 12 years, I edited Indesign magazine and was founding editor of architecture, art and design magazine, Habitus (covering the Indo-Pacific region), in 2009 – collecting a Master in Architecture from UNSW in the process, just to prove I knew what I was talking about. And so as not to waste my television experience, I made a number of videos on architecture and the visual arts.

… and now

I’ve published 18 books – on the theatre, the visual arts and architecture, especially residential architecture in S-E Asia – and countless articles and catalogue essays. And after more than a decade as Editorial Director and later Consulting Editor at IndesignMedia I have now switched my attention away from architecture and design and back to the visual arts.

Apart from finishing my second novel, Difficulty, my latest book, Slow Reveal – The Story of the Nude in Australian Art, is a survey of the history and many manifestations of the nude in Australian art up to the present day. The story of the Australian nude is put in the context of international art, socio-cultural developments in Australia, and the many issues thrown up by the nude such as the life class and the naked/nude distinction. Essentially, it is a re-telling of the history of Australian art through the lens of the nude.

For a sneak preview have a look at my article, ‘Birth of Venus – Australia’s First Nude’ in Artist Profile 52. Slow Reveal is pitched at a general readership, but I am now working on another book on the visual arts which applies frame theory to painting, photography and architecture.

NEWS June 2024: Insurmountable problems forced me to terminate my contract with a previous publisher. A lot of time was lost. However, Slow Reveal is now surging towards publication through Yarra and Hunter Arts Press and the inimitable Gavin Fry. Files are almost printer-ready and we are currently waiting on printer quotes. Watch this space!

All the time I continue to work with Dr Bob Jansen on the Cultural Conversations project, an online oral history archive of Australian and South Korean visual artists. Using customised software, the archive offers extensive video interviews with the artists, a parallel transcript and still images of work referred to in the interviews. Recently added are interviews with sculptor, Ron Robertson-Swann, painters, Dick Watkins and Kevin Connor, and curator/printmaker, Akky van Ogtrop.


Visual arts & Architecture videos

John Beard in Portugal 1994-1995
On John Beard living in Portugal in mid-1990, for SBS TV's arts show IMAGINE.
Sydney Summer
Story of a Mural by Alun Leach-Jones
Transforming the Legal Workplace
Corrs Chambers Westgarth at 8 Chifley Square
The Art of Work
Macquarie Bank fit-out
Legal Connections
Clayton Utz fit-out
Poem in Black and White
Surry Hills warehouse
Suburban Solution
Turning a motocycle repair shop into a home
Fred Cress
A look at the work of Painter Fred Cress
Beautiful & Damned
John Beard's paintings of the Victorian landscape

Conversations with artists

Click through below to watch selected conversations with artists at

Major publications

Featured articles on visual arts, architecture and design


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