Artist Ty Williams is soaking up the joyful sarcasm of his newly adopted home.

Artist Ty Williams is soaking up the joyful sarcasm of his newly adopted home.

At the opening of his show at the Art Park gallery in Byron Bay in late December, Ty Williams was bouncing through the crowd like a pinball. His eyes wide-open, seemingly speaking to everyone at once. When it came to our turn to speak, the conversation turned to the late American writer Charles Bukowski. “I just love the titles of his books” said Williams, “The Captain Is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship. It’s genius!”

This first impression of Williams echoed through the work on display. His laconic, acrylic-wash pieces were largely paired with captions like ‘Adolf Hipster’, ‘Disco Dingo’ and ‘Two Ex-boyfriends Looking for New Girlfriends’. They serve as a title and at first seem flippant but hint at something deeper, sometimes dark but always joyfully sarcastic.

“There’s a journal quality to my work, most of it is inspired by travelling and meeting people so I’m usually coming off some sort of high. It can be moody and cynical, but it’s always done with humour,” he says.

Originally from Florida, the nomadically inclined Williams recently headed to Australia but didn’t make it further afield than Byron Bay, hence the name of this show, I’m Still Gone. His work for the Art Park show was compact and a spontaneous creation, but he speaks of a feverish desire to lay some roots and set-up a studio, to throw himself into some larger works.

“Now I’ve met so many rad people here in Australia, I’m thinking this might be the place. I’ve lived in LA but there’s too much traffic. New York is great cause you don’t have to drive, but there’s a lot of tension and now in Byron I’m just like, hang-on, there’s so much space to get work done here and you can get drunk without having to watch your back and worry about getting mugged,” he remarks. “I love the passive-aggressive sarcasm of Australians. I saw this girl run out in front of this guy in his car and he didn’t lose his shit, he just stuck his head out the window and was like, ‘Oh yeah. No worries, just walk wherever you want love!’ I’m glad there’s still some sarcasm in such a mellow place, it keeps it interesting.”

Ty’s Guide to ‘Places I’d rather not tell you about in Byron but are really good, so I will tell you.’

Art Park
Art Park is a great spot to check out art books, ‘zines and get a little dose of creative culture. They usually have an exhibit on display which usually doesn’t suck. Strike up a conversation with Paul or Craig [Art Parks founders], both are Byron locals and are wells of knowledge.

Freshest coffee and homemade kombucha served by the slickest dressed staff in Byron. Ask for Heath or Dwayne and check Ozzie Wright’s artwork in the toilets.

The Rails
This bar reminds me of some of my haunts in Florida. It’s a more seedy bar with a mixed crowd. The bartenders don’t act like they are too cool and they’re quick. I could imagine the Hell’s Angels and Hunter S. Thompson hanging at this place.

The Top Shop
Sure, it’s Coachella 24/7 mixed with a little bit of Bondi, but if you get past all the hipness, this place makes an amazing sandwich and nothing is better than sitting outside on the grass watching hungover chicks do the walk of shame. I recommend the veggie panini and the watermelon slushy.

The parking lot at The Pass
This place is more crowded than Burning Man but makes for a great place to hang before or after a surf. If you’re lucky you can spot some big name surfers and maybe even ask them if they are leaving so you can have their parking spot.

Bangalow is a little country town up the hill from Byron. It’s ideal for getting a little break from the backpackers and lurkers below. Up there, there are numerous swimming holes and waterfalls to hang out at. There also is a little pub there if you want to just have a Coopers and unwind.