SPRING 2020

GRANT MOLONY
Even if you don't know Grant Molony, you'd be familiar with his work. His is the whale mural at Erina Fair, the octopus at Gosford's Bay Road Brewing, and the portrait of Michael Jordan in the men's room at Long Jetty's Savoy.

Grant enjoys doing large-scale artworks and his canvases are often immense. As well as the many murals he’s created at local schools and shopping centres, he’s painted a VW at Harkham Wines Pokolbin, a sculpture of a horse at The Entertainment Grounds and a 1.2 metre square portrait of Clint Eastwood!

But that’s not to say he doesn’t paint small, too. In fact, this local artist from North Entrance had so many commissions for dog portraits in 2018 that this year he’s placed a 50-work cap on them ‘to allow time’, he says, ‘for other projects and personal practice.’

‘I would love to be able to paint what I want to paint full time,’ Grant says, ‘but there’s finding that balance between it being a job and a passion, and it’s a hard balance. It’d be scary to close the doors to commissions and to lock yourself away for six months and then do an exhibition and see if people like it. You need to be brave enough to allow yourself the time to do that.’

Grant grew up in Berkeley Vale – the youngest of five brothers. He studied art for his HSC and was flagged as being a skilled artist. ‘As a kid I was always drawing,’ he says. ‘I looked into doing an art degree, but I went surfing instead,’ he says with a guilty smile. ‘But if there were no waves I’d take a piece of paper and a pencil and I’d be set for hours.’

These days you’ll likely find him surfing at North Shelly or North Entrance. A drop-knee bodyboarder, Grant competed on the World Tour for many years. He travelled to ‘Hawaii, Japan, South and Central America, Europe – all over,’ and is still sponsored by Cleave bodyboards and Volcom wetsuits.

‘It’s more of a long-time loyalty sponsorship these days rather than one where I need to compete or get images,’ he says.

For Grant, bodyboarding led to surf photography and then, surprisingly, weddings. ‘Some brides like to do a post-wedding “trash-your-dress” style of shoot in the ocean,’ he explains.

No matter what job Grant had, though, he was always ‘painting in the background’. After a few people commissioned him to do pieces, he started posting his work to Instagram and his business organically grew from there.

After working for 16 years at Long Jetty’s Boarderline Surf store, Grant says, ‘It was my daughter who inspired me to quit my job and do it [drawing] full time. When she came along I wanted to show her that you should be able to follow your dreams.

’Grant’s daughter, Frankie, has just started kindergarten and he works his hours around school drop-off, park plays, skateboarding and beach trips with her. It means a lot of early starts and late nights, but he feels he’s found a good balance in leasing the studio space out the back of Long Jetty’s Lucky Surf & Supply store. They provide the coffee and he organises the art shows. On display in the gallery, you’ll normally find the work of Grant, his brother Russ and pieces from the Coast’s emerging artists.

‘I try to give young artists a space that they feel comfortable to show their works,’ he says.

In January, he worked alongside local youths together with artists Russ Molony and Jason Goulding to design and create a large-scale mural on the wall of the basketball court at the Wyoming Youth Skills Centre. It was a program run by the Regional Youth Support Services and kids could attend for free.

What’s his advice to these up-and-coming creatives? Life as an artist is ‘so up and down. You’ll be too busy to even breath and then you’ll have nothing on, so you’re always trying to find that balance. I’m definitely glad I jumped in and made the move. You’ve just got to have a go I think’.

Grant Molony Gallery open 7 days inside Lucky Surf & Supply, 3/417 The Entrance Rd, Long Jetty.

WORDS KATIE STOKES

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