From The Archives

Another Reardon is back in town

By Ilias Bakalla

Tuesday, May 22, 1973

No matter how you spell it, the name Riordan is an integral part of the Shepparton community.

The name is unavoidable whether you are dealing with city council, service clubs, politics or law there are Riordans and Reardons — they are everywhere.

And just when I thought I was used to them all, a fellow called Ray Reardon appears to be cut from a different mould to the others — he rides a motorbike, wears a beard, has a background which includes an involvement with a rock band and now lectures in art at Geelong Teachers’ College.

He is not new to Shepparton. He went to school here and, according to his old mates, he was a ‘one-man circus'. It will probably surprise some of them then, that Ray is returning next month to present a one-man art exhibition.

Whatever his prospects in the eyes of many when he left Shepparton, Ray Reardon has certainly established himself now as one of the country's fastest rising artists.

He recently conducted a one-man exhibition of paintings and etchings at Geelong — and it proved to be the most successful Geelong has ever had.

More than $2000 worth of paintings were bought by art lovers and investors.

Perhaps the buyers were influenced because Ray has already won two important art awards.

In 1968 he won the Inez Hutchinson Award for painting and in Melbourne last year, he won an arts promotion award judged by arts critic and historian, Alan McCulloch.

And soon after the Shepparton exhibition Ray will present one-man exhibitions in Sydney and Adelaide.

Ray came to Shepparton when aged 12 and was educated at St Colman's. He played a season of senior football with Shepparton in 1959 and was known for his better-than-average performance in tennis and athletics.

After teachers’ college he returned to Bourchier Street State School for a year as a teacher.

But Ray's lifestyle changed dramatically in a short time. It was due chiefly to the writings and philosophies of Teilhard De Chardin — a great man with poetic visionary and somewhat mystical thinking.

Ray has collected his entire life work which tells basically of the phenomena of man and his future.

Its overriding theme is of supreme optimism.

Now Ray feels he puts a visual representation of optimism into his paintings, reflecting an image he relies on for personal success and satisfaction.

It was this new outlook and optimism over despair which undoubtedly led Ray to leave primary school teaching and begin an arts course.

He is now lecturing at Geelong Teachers’ College.

His work is basically semi-abstract, is done mainly at night but the search for new ideas is with him 24-hours-a-day.

Ray said it was not uncommon for him to stop on his motorbike while riding along the highway and visualise a work he would like to attempt.

Ray's main interest outside his world of paintings and etchings is with the drug problem.

He is the number one candidate to win a scholarship and travel overseas and study drug dependency and usage.

Already he lectures church and service organisations on the drug problem, but he feels he will be far more capable if he wins the opportunity for extensive research in the United States, Sweden and England.

It is a different lifestyle which governs the activities today of Shepparton "old boy" Ray Reardon.

But he is anxious to meet all his old friends and hopes the week-long exhibition starting on June 22 will be the venue for renewing old acquaintances.