AUSTRALIA   Ten Pound Poms.

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AUSTRALIA   Ten Pound Poms.

My Mum, my step-dad, my two brothers and my sister went to Australia over half a century ago for just ten UK pounds. Immigrants from the UK to Australia under this scheme became known as Ten Pound Poms. They were subsidized by the Australian government who encouraged British settlers. I don’t know why English were called Poms. Ten pounds is obvious. But I didn’t go because I had already left home, just got married, and was at college in England training to become an artist.

My family came back on visits over the following years so we kept in contact. Much later, after college, and after my one year teaching career, and after I had made my living as an artist full-time long enough, and when our kids had grown up and left home, then we finally went to see the family in Oz. Of course my siblings had all grown up and I had become an uncle to Australian nephews and a niece six or seven times over by then.

We went to Perth in Western Australia where they had originally set up home. And we have been back several times since then. We have also been across to Sydney, up north to Broome, and into the middle to see Ayers Rock. We have crossed the continent by plane and on the India Pacific railroad stopping off in Adelaide. It is a great place, but I am grateful that I stayed here in London, England.

I am glad that I stayed in the UK because I don’t think that I could have survived as a full-time artist in Perth. Perth is 3000 miles away from the nearest big city, and the whole of Western Australia had only one million inhabitants in an area the size of Europe. An artist needs access to a sizeable audience. In my personal experience survival in the art world as a full-timer is rather tricky even with 50 million people on your doorstep in the UK.

This true story highlights one of the issues that face a professional artist even today. We paint our pictures, sculpt our sculptures, print our prints, or whatever. The difficult bit is showing them to people so that the art can be appreciated and sold.

It is very much simpler nowadays with the Internet. I guess that my audience has grown several times over from the 50 million in the UK, and from the 500 million in Europe.

Nowadays I can show my work to the world. I could even do that from a remote spot in the outback of Australia.

Hmmm! Food for thought.

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Colin Ruffell was born in 1939, then he was bombed, evacuated, educated, expelled, repatriated, married, bred, qualified and taught; until in 1965, aged 26, he became a professional artist. Since then he is proud and happy to have survived. He qualified from two Art Colleges in painting, design and printmaking, and the Open University in psychology and aesthetics, plus he has a reasonably clean driving license. He has founded, led or organised the following; Spectrum Studios, Artists in Action, Bayswater Road Artists Association, 9-Plus Artists Group, Buckingham Fine Art Ltd., Brighton Artists Workshop, European Fine Art Ltd., The Fine Art Trade Guild, The Fiveways Artists Group, and Crabfish Ltd.