Ian Swift

Drop Bear Gorgeous brand launch & Ian Swift exhibition of paintings

30 APRIL - 23 MAY 2016

View Drop Bear Gorgeous paintings

Exhibition booklet available



Over the past few months, I have collaborated with artist Ian Swift on the realisation of Drop Bear Gorgeous: a conceptual art project, a brand, and a new business based in Katoomba.

Combining a saying well known throughout the English-speaking world with an Australian myth, the name encapsulates the brand’s combination of laconic Australian humour with global issues and aspirations. It’s cute and cynical. It’s fun, yet serious. Welcome to Drop Bear Gorgeous - where art meets the environment.

Ian Swift’s paintings use graphic simplicity and satire to explore profound environmental themes, with anthropomorphic marsupials driving the narratives. Deforestation, coral bleaching and Japanese whaling are just a few of the targets of the artist’s sharp wit. Many of Ian’s paintings in the exhibition are also designs used to develop Drop Bear Gorgeous merchandise, including sustainable, ethical clothing and paper products.

The idea for an art project becoming a commercial brand was driven by Ian’s desire to fulfill a philanthropic vision, to raise awareness and make a contribution to social change. Ian hopes that  by utilising his playful alter ego, Applegum Art Gal, he can reach a broad audience. Social media has and will continue to facilitiate these aims, with daily posts on Instagram (@dropbeargorgeous) since December 2015. A permanent Drop Bear Gorgeous retail shop located in Katoomba Street, will open in May 2016 at the conclusion of his exhibition.

Support is essential for this vision to be realized. Rather than taking a crowdfunding route, we have decided on a more local, targeted approach, relying on the patronage of Ian’s followers, gallery clientele, as well as those whose ethics align with that of the brand. Each of the 80 paintings in the exhibition is priced below expectation, and their purchase will be an investment in the future of Drop Bear Gorgeous.

Geoff White
April 2016



My name is Applegum; I’m a tree hugging art gal. I live in the forest and sleep most of the day. That was until recently, when I was rattled awake by a chainsaw at the base of my tree. It shocked and shook me so much that I fell from my bough and crashed through the branches, screaming with fear. Luckily, I landed on the logger and knocked him senseless. He dropped his saw and bolted, screaming:

“DROP BEAR ATTACK!  Aaaaarrrhh”

Since that day, my art became more and more politically charged with environmental issues. To initiate change, it was necessary to connect with a global audience, therefore I started painting graphic, semi-naïve, colourful cartoons, with many references to art history, pop culture, famous photography and film.

While daydreaming, it occurred to me that if I owned the forest, it would be protected forever. I dreamt about reproducing images onto utilitarian consumables, becoming a brand, a global brand, that is ethical and sustainable. A brand that stands up for the powerless creatures and their habitats; habitats that are being sacrificed at the altar of Mammon. From the Great Barrier Reef to the Amazon Rainforest, I Applegum Art Gal, and my brand, Drop Bear Gorgeous, will be your heroine and protector.

Nice daydream, but I needed help from my mate Bert, the wisest bear in the forest. He suggested posting a picture a day on Instagram to build a base of followers and asking them to help build the brand. I dropped the idea at art class and my peers responded with enthusiastic cynicism. Bert told me that I was a visionary and that the whole project was far more than another T-shirt company. He said “You are coming from a high-art platform and diving deep to exploit mass consumerism for a great cause, where art meets the environment to save habitats. This is wildly conceptual”.

Bert’s ‘theory of retailivity’ was to bend the idea even further by opening a shop within a World Heritage National Park and simultaneously launch the brand with an exhibition of paintings at a fine art gallery.

Drop Bear Gorgeous… we have lift-off! Enjoy my pictures, follow the project and help save our planet.

- Applegum


Ian Swift describes himself as a “self-deprecating painter, writer, bush philosopher and budding astronaut”.

Environmental issues, art history and pop culture are consistent themes in his art, often expressed with sharp wit and satirical undertones. His focus has now shifted to painting as a means to further explore these themes.

Swift has predominantly been recognised for his sculptures, with works included in prestigious exhibitions such as Sculpture at Scenic World (2016 and 2015) and Sculpture by the Sea, in which he has been included consistently since its inception. He is one of 19 - from 1,108 artists - to have made it into the Sculpture by the Sea ‘Decade Club’. Swift has also been the recipient of numerous prizes and has been exhibiting regularly in both sculpture and painting since 1990.

His recent paintings typify his now-recognisable, graphically simple style, often featuring anthropomorphic Australian marsupials. These paintings have progressed into a conceptual art work, in which art meets the environment under the brand name Drop Bear Gorgeous, which now spans a line of clothing and paper products, complete with store in Katoomba.

The Sixties Remembered  recycled plastic and steel  285cm x 125cm x 155cm  2010

Gulf Country  reclaimed thongs on board  135cm x 360cm  2014

Gorilla  industrial foam  164cm x 107cm x 170cm  2009

My Blue Mountains  acrylic on canvas 140cm x 200cm  2015

Polar Bear  steel, found objects & recycled plastic  120cm x 255cm x 85cm  2009

View Available Works

View Recently Sold Works

Ian Swift Limited Edition Prints


Prior Exhibitions at Lost Bear Gallery

View 'Eco Warriors' 2015 Exhibition

View Gone Fishin.. Exhibition

View Modern Tribal Exhibition

View Cynical Naivism Exhibition

View 'IKEAbana'

View 2011 Exhibition 

View 'Spin... a Swift tour of art'

View 2009 Exhibition

View 'Eavesdroppings of a Galah'

View 'Dapto Dishlickers' Exhibition

View 'Avant Guard Dogs' Exhibition

View 'Sydney's Ocean Baths'


View Available Catalogues

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