Artist confesses all: Graeme Drendel's new exhibition 'Confessions' opens

Graeme Drendel is a Melbourne-based painter and printmaker whose skilfully executed works appear to be driven by narratives - though it is not necessarily clear what these narratives may be.

In his new exhibition 'Confessions' which is now open at Tweed Regional Gallery, Drendel's figures are placed within a vast, isolating landscape.

"There is something about any object or figure isolated within an immense landscape, that leaves one with a slight sense of unease," Drendel said.

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The exhibition includes smaller works on paper and large canvases that span the past four years of the artist's work. In the lead up to the exhibition, Drendel set himself the task to paint a work every week, veering from figurative work one day, to still life subjects and/or portraiture the next. He sees the smaller works as 'short stories', or vignettes that often inform the larger canvases.

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"My regime in the studio is just to paint, and rarely do I think in terms of an overall theme for a body of work. However, the work produced over a period of time seems to somehow have a sense of connectedness in spite of there having been no great need for this to be the case. It does stand to reason that as the canvases accumulate in the studio that they do in themselves influence one another and this of course does encourage a sense of dialogue from one painting to another."

Graeme Drendel completed a Diploma of Teaching Art and Craft from Melbourne State College in 1974. He is regularly selected as a finalist in significant prizes throughout Australia, and in 2018 his work was shortlisted for the Archibald Prize and the Paul Guest Prize. With over 30 solo exhibitions to his name, his work can be found in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Artbank, Australian Print Workshop and numerous regional galleries.

All are invited to attend the opening celebrations of Confessions with artist Graeme Drendel on Friday 12 October at 6pm.

There's also an exciting public program to complement this exhibition scheduled for later in the show. On Friday 30 November, come along to an In-Conversation event at 5.30pm hosted by the Friends of the Gallery. Enjoy an informative and 'bound-to-be-amusing' conversation between the artist and Dr. Sarah Engledow, Senior Curator and Historian at the National Portrait Gallery. Book through trybooking.com/XUWF or check the Gallery's website at https://artgallery.tweed.nsw.gov.au for further details.





Winners of Les Peterkin Portrait Prize named at colourful fancy dress ceremony

The winners of the Les Perkins Portrit Prize for 2018 have been announced.

First place winners for the three age categories are:  
·  Zac Dascoli (5-7 years) from Centaur Primary School, Banora Point
·  Billy Miller (8-10 years) from Mt St Patrick Primary School, Murwillumbah
·  Indira Mansted (11-13 years) home schooled.

 Zac Dascoli, Donkey Kong 2018

Zac Dascoli, Donkey Kong 2018

 Billy Miller, Space Rescue 2018

Billy Miller, Space Rescue 2018

 Indira Mansted, Cat Woman 2018

Indira Mansted, Cat Woman 2018


The annual Les Peterkin Portrait Prize, on show at the Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre from Friday 28 September until Sunday 2 December 2018, is a huge celebration of the artistic talent of local primary school students. The Prize is one of the Gallery's most popular exhibitions, and has once again attracted an enormous number of entries and participating schools.

Each prize winner, along with the creators of 37 other award-winning and commended works, will have the thrill of seeing their artworks professionally framed and hung in the prestigious setting of the Gallery.

A further 205 outstanding works will be displayed in folios for the duration of the exhibition.

Working on the theme Going to a Fancy Dress Party, primary school students sketched, collaged, photographed and painted images that capture their unique character in costume through portraiture. This year's theme was set for students to create a portrait that captured themselves in fancy dress. Students were encouraged to explore the pose, costume and facial expressions of their character.

The Prize is named after legendary local artist and art teacher Les Peterkin, and is made possible by the financial support of Tweed Shire Council and Tyalgum Public School, with assistance from the Friends of the Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Arts Centre Inc., Derivan - maker of quality artist materials, School Art Supplies - leading supplier of art and craft materials, Bunnings at Tweed Heads South, Murwillumbah Services Club and Office Max.

The Gallery hosted an official opening and prize-giving ceremony last Thursday afternoon, where many children, family and friends came dressed in costumes. The exhibition was officially opened by the Principal of Tyalgum Public School, Janelle Cloherty, followed by the keenly anticipated announcement of winners and prize-giving presented by Marianne Galluzzo, Prize Coordinator; Alan Hann, President of the Friends of the Gallery and the Prize's namesake himself - Les Peterkin.

Forest Art Exhibition Oct 5-10

Opening this Friday October 5, Forest Art features works by Lindy Lynch, Dianne Ingram, Hannah Massey, Many Nolan and many more:

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JEFA Gallery announces Snap, Cackle and Pop exhibition

Julian Edwards Fine Arts Gallery invites you to ‘Snap, Cackle & Pop,’ an exhibition of works by Jeff Raglus (Melbourne), Neil 'Captain Pipe' McCann (Sydney) & Tim Fry (Byron Bay)

  It’s Like a Jungle Sometimes , Jeff Raglus, mixed media, 125 x 186 x 14cm

It’s Like a Jungle Sometimes, Jeff Raglus, mixed media, 125 x 186 x 14cm

An unraveling and unique exhibition of three contemporary artists, who divide their practice between drawing, painting, woodwork, sculpture and mixed media.   This exhibition draws upon naive characteristics of a complex life expressed through the eyes of a boy. Joyous cheekily comical tasteless puns. Colours and shapes of an innocent observer, depict cartoon like & playful scenes of an adult nature. Indecent innuendos, rough politics, industrialism, over-consumerism & general satire.
 
Encompassing all that is pop art aesthetics and covering a range of everyday imagery ~ bizarre humans, still life, condiments, old cars, landscapes, city skylines, buildings surreal scenarios. Blurring the boundaries between fine and graphic art.

The exhibition runs from 18th September to 8th October, with an opening night on Friday the 21st at 5:30pm, at 19A Byron Street, Bangalow. Artist discussions will also take place on Saturday the 22nd, with Raglus at 11:30am followed by McCann and Fry at 2:30pm.

Raglus is a multi-instrumental musician with an artistic streak, beginning with surfboard sprays and delving into fabrics, posters and record sleeve design.

McCann is a University of Northumbria graduate, currently living in Sydney, whose work explores stories of origin and myth across paintings, animations and films.

  Family Man Spam , Niel ‘Captain Pipe’ McCann, acrylic on canvas, 75 x 75cm

Family Man Spam, Niel ‘Captain Pipe’ McCann, acrylic on canvas, 75 x 75cm

Tim Fry works in mixed media drawing and sculpture. The drawings are heavily influenced by Pop Art aesthetics and cover a range of everyday imagery from still life’s to landscapes, and buildings, whereas the sculpture has been exclusively concerned with architectural and industrial forms.

  Love Redifines , Tim Fry, mixed media on card, 48 x 30cm.

Love Redifines, Tim Fry, mixed media on card, 48 x 30cm.

BSA Open Day and 2019 Long-Course Applications Open

 Corrie Furner's  This is Not a Still Life,  from the exhibition  Let Her Rip  curated by Natalie Bull and Zoe Robinson-Kennedy

Corrie Furner's This is Not a Still Life, from the exhibition Let Her Rip curated by Natalie Bull and Zoe Robinson-Kennedy

2019 applications for the Byron School of Art are now open. The BSA offers a series of year-long courses that provide an extensive grounding in the Visual Arts. These are structured programs incorporating drawing, painting, printmaking, 3D studies, design principles, art history and critical thinking regarding contemporary practice.

Students can study for one to three years, beginning with the Visual Arts Foundation, leading on to Visual Arts Practice in second year, and then to the Research & Portfolio Course in third year. Course activities include studio work, field trips, gallery visits, guest lecturers, and group exhibitions. 

The BSA will also be hosting an open day on October 14. From 11am to 2pm, you can drop in and walk through the studios and exhibition space in Mullumbimby, view current students' work and participate in the open drawing studio. It's a great way to find out more about the BSA and what they offer in terms of Visual Arts Education. For those interested in the Long-Course applications, there is an information session at 12pm.

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  • 2019 Long-course info session 12 - 12.30pm

  • Exhibition of current students' work

  • Information session on BSA Project Space 12.45pm 

  • Open drawing studio - all welcome

  • Live music from 2pm with M.E. Baird, local Singer-Songwriter, Artist, Educator and friend of the BSA

    Applications for the 2019 intake must be received by 31 October, with intake interviews to be held in November. For more information visit the BSA website and look under LONG COURSES, where you may also apply online. If you have any questions, email admin@byronschoolofart.com or phone 0487 362 141. 

Kendal Gear wins People's Choice Award in 2018 Hurford Hardwood Portrait Prize

Perth artist Kendal Gear has been announced as the winner of the People’s Choice Award in the 2018 Hurford Hardwood Portrait Prize at Lismore Regional Gallery.

Gear's self-portrait was voted by Gallery visitors as the favourite in a tightly contested list. On being named winner, Gear said, “It was great to be part of the exhibition and it’s so exciting and encouraging to receive this award, and prize money of $1,000. It’s come at a really good time for me.”

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Director of Lismore Regional Gallery, Brett Adlington congratulated the winner, saying:
 
“For us, the Hurford Hardwood Portrait Prize is a chance to support a broad range of artists, emerging and established; local and national. We also see this award as a chance for the community to engage with a whole range of artistic styles, and the People’s Choice Award is a chance to acknowledge this. Kendal's work is exquisite in its detail and craftsmanship - and obviously resonated with our audiences.”
 
Acknowledging their support of the People’s Choice Award, Brad Gosling of Chandlers Betta Home Living, Lismore said:

“This portrait prize is a great way to celebrate the art of portraiture, and like The Archibald Prize, we know that many visitors like to have their say about who they think the winner should be. It’s for this reason we were happy to support the People’s Choice Award in the Hurford Hardwood Portrait Prize, and would like to congratulate the winner, Kendal Gear, on being voted favourite by visitors to the gallery.”
 
Brett Adlington also thanked the prize sponsors, Hurford Hardwood and Chandlers Betta Home Living, Lismore. “To have the support of local business really means so much for us, and helps us support artists in the early stages of their careers.”

Director of the Art Gallery of NSW, Dr Michael Brand, previously named Nicole Kelly as the Winner of the Hurford Hardwood Portrait Prize with her work, Jumaadi + Clouds + Rain, which now enters Lismore Regional Gallery's permanent collection.

The Hurford Hardwood Portrait Prize will next be held towards the end of 2020.

Art In the Pub: Marion Gaemers and Lynnette Griffiths on the Art of Collaboration

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Tweed Regional Gallery announces Fancy Dress Party for 22nd Les Peterkin Prize

The annual Les Peterkin Portrait Prize, on show at the Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre from Friday 28 September until Sunday 2 December 2018, is a huge celebration of the artistic talent of local primary school students. The Prize is one of the Gallery's most popular exhibitions, and has once again attracted an enormous number of entries and participating schools.

Working on the theme Going to a Fancy Dress Party, primary school students sketched, collaged, photographed and painted images that capture their unique character in costume through portraiture. This year's theme was set for students to create a portrait that captured themselves in fancy dress. Students were encouraged to explore the pose, costume and facial expressions of their character.

  Tahmina Barikzai,   The day my tooth fell out,  Byron Community Primary School First Prize (5–7 years), Les Peterkin Portrait Prize, 2017

Tahmina Barikzai, The day my tooth fell out, Byron Community Primary School
First Prize (5–7 years), Les Peterkin Portrait Prize, 2017

The judges in 2018 were local artist Caz McDougall; Tweed Regional Gallery's Curator Sarah McGhee, representatives from the Friends of the Gallery Malcolm Reid and Penny Hall; and art loving mums, Dale Garrow and Yaiwa Goodwin. The judges were all amazed with the creativity and effort of every child who entered the competition.

Prize Coordinator, Marianne Galluzzo, said that this year submissions were a true indication that art in our schools is alive and well, displaying great imagination both in subject matter and in the use of materials. 

"Every year I look forward to the judging day, to see everyone's responses to the theme. This year our students certainly demonstrated a candid and tremendously talented attempt to produce their works of art," Ms Galluzzo said.

The Prize is named after legendary local artist and art teacher Les Peterkin, and is made possible by the financial support of Tweed Shire Council and Tyalgum Public School, with assistance from the Friends of the Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Arts Centre Inc., Derivan - maker of quality artist materials, School Art Supplies - leading supplier of art and craft materials, Bunnings at Tweed Heads South, Murwillumbah Services Club and Office Max. 

On Thursday 27 September at 3.30pm, the Gallery will host the official opening and prize-giving ceremonies, which promises to be one of the biggest events of the year. Children, family and friends are invited to come dressed up in costume. At 4.30pm the exhibition will be officially opened by the Principal of Tyalgum Public School, Janelle Cloherty, followed by the keenly anticipated announcement of winners and prize-giving presented by Marianne Galluzzo, Prize Coordinator; Alan Hann, President of the Friends of the Gallery and the Prize's namesake himself - Les Peterkin.

Artist Interview: Emma Walker

Emma Walker is one of the Northern Rivers’ most well-known artists. Her work was displayed on a grand scale at the 2018 Sydney Contemporary Art Fair, where her new collection Surface Immersion filled the Arthouse Gallery booth.

Interview by Nadine Abensur

 Emma Walker photographed by Lisa Sorgini

Emma Walker photographed by Lisa Sorgini

Nadine. Of all the artists I know, the way you get involved with the paint and the materials is the most immersive I’ve ever seen anybody work. It seems like a really full-bodied experience …

Emma. Well, I can’t really comment on anyone else’s approach. I suppose immersive is a good word for it … I was once asked by somebody what I’m passionate about … and I said, Well, I’m passionate about everything that I’m passionate about … I almost didn’t understand the question … I think that the longer I practise and make work, the more I start to see how interconnected all these things are … My trips up the river on my paddle board, or my conversations, or my love affair, or the books I read, or any of those things — they all end up being part of the same melting pot. So I really don’t distinguish much between them …

  Revelator , 2018, oil and acrylic on board, 150 x 180 cm

Revelator, 2018, oil and acrylic on board, 150 x 180 cm

Nadine. I want to talk about the fact that you’ve started working on board. Is it because you’d reached the limit of how physically engaged you can be with a canvas? Or is it because the board is so much more resilient, so you can push against it?

Emma. Absolutely. I’m not saying I wouldn’t go back to canvas — that’s entirely possible. But I think there’s been a sculptor trying to come out of me for a long time. And using power tools and sort of gouging and pushing against the surface, or playing with the edges of things, has always been very interesting to me. And you just can’t do that with canvas. And using power tools on timber — I can get quite messy with it, and quite rough with it, without destroying it entirely. Which you would within seconds with a canvas, obviously. Also the nature of the material is very interesting to me, in that you can make a variety of marks with it — the way that the timber itself behaves, the way it can be smoothed with sandpaper, the grain of the timber — it’s a whole different material. And it becomes more incorporated into the painting. Whereas canvas sort of remains …

Nadine. Flat?

Emma. It remains … itself.

Nadine. Your paintings — would you say they’re landscape-based? To what degree are you driven by a connection to an outer landscape, and to what degree an inner one?

Emma. Landscape is very much a part of my work. When somebody asks me, What sort of work do you do? I always bring out the old annoying ‘landscape-based abstraction’, and then I sort of roll my eyes inwardly. Because it’s such a small amount, really, of what I’m doing. In fact, I seem to be deviating further and further from landscape, as such — especially in terms of the Eurocentric version of landscape, the horizon line and upright trees. That sort of landscape is interesting me less and less. But what I continuously love and draw endless inspiration from is the Earth, and what it offers up. Whether it be trees, or trails of ants, or the colour of rocks, or a sensation of walking, or a memory of a tree on a farm. So it’s a combination of many things, I think. And a lot of them are to do with memory and a sense of place, as well as a connection to the materials themselves. So sticks, branches, mud, dirt, foliage — to me these are materials, as are my paint brushes or my charcoal. They’re all kind of interconnected, somehow. So I guess I’m trying to find a way of translating that experience.

Nadine. What does abstraction allow you to do that a figurative approach wouldn’t?

Emma. Abstraction allows me to investigate things that are not literal. Things that are beneath the surface, things that are not obvious. Things that are felt, intuited. I don’t mind references to the real creeping in, but I don’t like them to be too real. As soon as something starts to look too much like something, I have to leave it alone. If I could identify my main aim — of which there are many — it would be to try to evoke something. Evoke a quality of something, an essence of something, a feeling of something or somewhere. Or even just the feeling of a particular idea — or how that idea plays out within me. It is abstract stuff, so figuration just doesn’t seem to make sense to me as a means of expressing these very nebulous notions … I get something different when I look at figurative or representational work to what I get when I look at abstraction. With abstraction I feel more. I am a feeling person — as you commented previously — and I guess that’s what I want to feel in my own works, and perhaps what I want to give others when they view my work.

Nadine. As an aside, a painter that I think works like an abstractist in a figurative way is Rene Bolton.

Emma. Yes, I agree. Yes, it’s not even his subject matter that we’re looking at. And likewise, Georgio Morandi. There’s a sort of quiet stillness in Rene’s work that reaches through the imagery and almost obliterates it. But at the same time, the simplicity and sparseness of it is part of that beautiful quiet feeling that you receive from looking at those works. So yeah, you’re right — it can be done.

Nadine. I see you as a very emotional person. Is painting the survival mechanism?

Emma. I suppose so. Although there are times when it can cause me great anguish. So I don’t know how safe it is. But it’s certainly not injuring anyone else … I guess the beautiful thing of it is that through the difficulties, and moments of anguish — which do occur — can come something quite different, quite other, quite beautiful or powerful. And it is just an object, but it’s an object that somehow becomes imbued with all of that rich experience that goes through the maker, as the maker is making … And so sometimes it’s shit, and sometimes it’s glorious. It can be all of that, and more. Depending on what you’ve had for breakfast, or an argument you had yesterday. All of those things come into the studio with you, and get played out …

  Ascension , 2018, oil and acrylic on board, 180 x 150 cm

Ascension, 2018, oil and acrylic on board, 180 x 150 cm

Nadine. Do you get painter’s block?

Emma. No, I don’t.

Nadine. Do you lose patience? And if so, how do you find it again?

Emma. I’m terribly impatient, but I’m not so impatient with my paintings. I guess I’m now familiar with the processes that I use. And I know that they take time, and I know that they have to go through this sort of undulating wave of struggle and search and discovery, before they’re really satisfying to me. So if I were to give up on the first day, I know I’d be missing out on the good stuff. So it’s not even really a matter of patience anymore, it’s just a matter of knowing how my process works. But it does drive me crazy sometimes, and I do wish sometimes that I could just set up a nice still life and just paint the damn thing, and not have to question and enter this constant territory of unknowing, which can be very confronting and annoying, and hard, quite frankly. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, working this way. I don’t even know if it’s mine, but I’m stuck with it.

Nadine. What has love got to do with it? It seems that love is the most controversial word in the English language now. It just seems like it has become so uncool, or airy-fairy …

Emma. Here is a quote from the current novel I'm reading: “This is the trick to creative work: it requires a slip-state of being, not unlike love. A state in which you are both most yourself and most alive and yet least sure of your own boundaries, and therefore open to everything and everyone outside of you”. This could be a description of me … It's from All That I Am by Anna Funder. Quite a superb book.

  Salt lake , 2015, oil, acrylic and mixed media on carved board, 100 x 120 cm

Salt lake, 2015, oil, acrylic and mixed media on carved board, 100 x 120 cm



Artist Interview: Robyn Sweaney

 

Robyn Sweaney’s home is filled with other people’s houses. Since 2003 she has been painting the commonplace post-war, pre-fab, weatherboard and brick homes of the Byron Bay region. Many of the houses have since been torn down for new development, or they have been remodelled beyond recognition. The houses aren’t especially beautiful, nor are they architecturally significant, yet Robyn’s paintings capture a character — a depth — that is belied by the seemingly simplistic, mundane aspect of their presence.


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Interview by Alana Wilson


Alana.  What was your initial inspiration for painting the houses?

Robyn.  I had an epiphany one day that the landscape here was changing. It’s always going to change, but it just suddenly seemed to be at a moment when a lot of the houses that I’d been looking at were getting sold, and the older people, that generation, were moving on. I wanted to capture something… but not because I felt like it doesn’t need to change.

Alana.  How is Looking Sideways, Heading West a shift from your previous works?

Robyn.  Every year, usually around Autumn, a girlfriend and I head west- we go out to Moree, and out to Texas in Queensland, or to Lightning Ridge, and Broken Hill. This series is about creating a narrative of that journey. I’m still fascinated by people’s houses, but this is a bit different than the local content.

Alana.  How do occupants react to your attention to their homes?

Robyn.  There are some moments when I’m out west and it becomes a little like Wake in Fright, so sometimes I’m not as comfortable in front of people’s houses. And I also often don’t want to know who lives in the houses, because that would change my perception and the narrative. It’s urban landscapes, so usually the spaces that I like to paint are ones that are not totally wild, there’s always some human element in there — there’s planted trees, or there’s some symmetry or balance. And I think that people create their little area, or their front garden, for people to see.Alana.  Magpies or cockatoos appear in many of your paintings. Is there symbolism there?

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Robyn.  I often put birds in a painting, almost to kind of humanise it, which sounds funny. They’re always around in Mullumbimby and everywhere you go there’s birds. Well we’re lucky enough to have them anyway. So they kind of add something to the narrative, or they can be about composition. I play with composition.

Alana.  People must be interested in the nostalgia factor in your work.

Robyn.  When I first started the houses in Mullumbimby, it was very much the humble, simple home that had stayed the same for 50 years. But even though a lot of the houses are post-war era houses, I’m not painting them from photographs from that time — I’m painting them now. So people ask me about the nostalgia and being sentimental, but it’s not that … For example, The milk bar is a symbol of my youth because they used to be on every corner. You know, on your way to school you walked past the milk bar. Yet there was also just something very graphic about that whole red/blue, there were certain patterns in there that I really liked, and the simplicity of it. And in Moree, a lot of the shops and buildings are all closed with security screens. So the outside of these buildings can be quite simple and stark.

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Alana.  Do you find similar themes among the homes?

Robyn.  People are living in these houses, that are quite humble, for many years —yet there is a certain element of design in what they do, which is one of the things that I’m looking at. For example, the one emu statue that balances with a single window — there are certain patterns. There may be a white house with a red strip of roof, and why does somebody do that?

Alana.  It’s interesting to hear what kind of details you find significant…

Robyn.  Well, it’s also about how the light hits buildings, and how that affects the mood of the place. A moment of light, it’s so fleeting … and five minutes later it’s gone.

 

Robyn Sweaney is represented by Anthea Polson Art on the Gold Coast and Arthouse Gallery, Darlinghurst

Mullumbimby Steiner School announces fifteenth Wearable Arts event

For everyone who wishes they could have gone to a Steiner school, where beauty and creativity are part of the curriculum, Shearwater's Wearable Arts is an opportunity to unleash your imagination (and your sewing machine, hot glue gun or maybe even your welder!).

This year marks the Mullumbimby Steiner school's fifteenth Wearable Arts event, known by staff and students as WAVE – Wearable Arts Vision in Education, and the school is calling on creatives from around Australia to enter costumes.

The title of this year's event is 'Homecoming: Labyrinth of Twists and Turns'. Entries will be assessed by a panel of independent industry judges and vie for a prize pool of almost $8,000, making the event one of Australia's largest.

Costumes, which must be relevant to one of the event's five sections, can be sewn, riveted, welded, glued, painted, collaged, knitted, woven, built and assembled from metal, leather, rubber, natural fibres, industrial waste and recycled objects. The entries are then incorporated into a highly professional choreographed production, which will take place in the Shearwater hall, in November.

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According to WAVE Production Coordinator Joshua Rushton, it is always an exciting moment when the intricate and extravagant garments begin arriving at the school, where they are embraced by the student-led production, an all-singing all-dancing theatrical spectacular.

“The story is always drawn from the life of teaching and learning and is deeply concerned with the passage of students from adolescence to adulthood," sais Rushton.

A highlight of the school’s performing arts calendar, the event is also a ton of fun, with around 200 students taking on roles as musicians, actors, writers, filmmakers and editors, lighting and audio technicians, carpenters, dancers, singers, tailors, artists, set and prop designers and makers, choreographers, photographers, graphic designers, stage hands, models, judges, ushers, and caterers.

"The students’ engagement in the experience teaches them logic, consequences and cause and effect; encourages and fosters heartfelt idealism and cultivates will, so they can go into the world as responsible, confident and capable adults,” said Rushton.

The performances will take place from November 7 to 10.  All entry forms must be received by October 16. A late entry fee will apply to entry forms received after September 27. Closing date for costume entries is October 22.

See the shearwaterperformingarts.com website for section descriptions and an entry form for the 2018 event, as well as an explanation of what defines wearable art and photos and video of previous Wearable Arts performances at Shearwater. 

If you require any further information about Wearable Arts, please contact costume entry supervisor Praba Manning prabam@shearwater.nsw.edu.au or phone Shearwater on (02) 6684 3223.

In the Studio: Charly Wrencher

Charly Wrencher is a London-born artist who has called Australia home for 30 years. He attended the National Art School in Sydney. A keen surfer, he now lives in Byron Bay where, according to Charly, he has always wanted to be. He and his wife, four children and extended family reside on a 68-acre property that is a constant source of inspiration. He is a prolific and successful painter and shows his work nationally and locally.

Interview by Nadine Abensur

 Charly in his studio in Byron Bay. Photography by Natalie Grono.

Charly in his studio in Byron Bay. Photography by Natalie Grono.

Nadine.  Have you always drawn and painted?

Charly.  Yes, always. From a very young age, there were unlimited supplies of  pencils, charcoals, paints, unlimited supplies of paper. My parents were never precious about it — they didn’t mind if we made a mess. I moved to Australia from London when I was 11. My brother reacted by becoming very physically active and I responded by drawing and painting obsessively. I couldn’t believe how much space there was. 

Nadine. Sounds like your parents were quite artistic themselves. 

Charly. Yes, my father was a photographer and art director. There were always layouts and storyboards lying around the house. My mother drew and painted and was forever going to to life drawing classes. I basically grew up in a photographic studio and on film sets. So, they were very relaxed about it all — not in the least bit precious and never critical.

Nadine.  Many would envy you that one! So I suppose that the idea of an artistic career was acceptable?

Charly.  Yes, totally. They encouraged me in all sorts of ways and my first work experience at the age of 16 was with Mick White, the leading advertising studio in Sydney, doing layouts. It was a great experience but I knew pretty quickly that it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I knew that I would never enjoy working to a brief and that I needed much more freedom to express myself and so I set my sights on going to art school. I applied and got into the National Art School and went there straight after school. I was there for three years, discovered oil paint, how to be very expressive, how to structure drawings and go from conception to execution; the fundamentals of becoming an artist in other words.

Nadine.  They really teach you how to draw at the National Art School too. How has that influenced you?

Charly.  Drawing had always come easily to me. I was a natural.

Nadine. You say you were naturally able to draw — this is something that intrigues me. The notion of natural propensity, the role of hard yakka… Can you say more about it?

Charly.  I recently found a drawing I’d made of a car at the age of four. It’s obviously a child’s drawing but it has three-dimensionality. Most kids at that age draw flat pictures but this had dimension. I really do think it came naturally.

Nadine.  Well, you must have enjoyed it and been encouraged too.

Charly.  Yes, for sure! My parents encouraged me all the way. All the same, I recently read that the happiest people are accountants and the most dissatisfied are the artists. They challenge things, they need to express things. I’ve always been one of them.

Nadine.  Anyway, big business now turns to artists for inspiration and out-of-the-box thinking, and apparently some of the biggest ideas are introduced into the sciences by artists. Coming back to you — your current work is, and for as long as I’ve known you, has been landscape based. Have you always been a landscape painter?

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Charly.  No way! When I was young, that wasn’t cool at all. I wanted to be the next Australian expressionist artist. I was rebellious and political. Last thing I wanted was to be a landscape painter.

Nadine.  Not edgy enough, not confronting or political enough?

Charly.  Exactly. But then I did a huge road trip around Australia and I was absolutely bowled over. Superficially, my work is about the landscape. But I put everything in there. My political views come through in my gestures. Just as everything does. If I get annoyed with the kids, I pour it into the marks. If I see yet another house on the horizon I’ll rant and rave about overdevelopment, but I put all that energy into the painting. Every mark is a working through, an expression, a way of making sense of things, of reaching resolution.

Nadine. We talk a great deal about process in the art world. Do you think of yourself as process-driven, or are you focused on the outcome?

Charly.  I never have a finished product in my mind, if that’s what you mean. I like to throw in bright colours, a surprise line here or there, and one step, one mark leads to the next. I never start with a palette. It’s all very organic.

Nadine.  Interesting. I often speak to artists who tell me it’s important to start with a palette, often a very reduced one.

Charly.  Not me - I get bored too easily! I like the physicality of painting. The spontaneity. I like to work very close to the painting, so that it looks good, even when you step quite close to it. And of course, it has to look good from a distance. It’s not pre-planned but it is fully conscious. I am completely present with the work. So in that sense, you can say that I am completely in the process.

Nadine.  What about materials?

Charly.  I use the best quality paints possible. It’s like a musical instrument. You’re always going to get a better sound out of a good instrument whoever you are. If the tone is good, you’ll automatically sound good. So, I buy the best paints I can — series five or six — where one tiny little tube costs $60. Then I’ll squeeze it out in one go and think, “OK, here we go!”

Nadine.  Your paintings are very large – the mind boggles!

Charly.  Yeah – I worked out that a large painting costs me $1000 just in materials.

Nadine.  You paint outdoors these days. What does that change?

Charly.  I don’t get a headache! Plus being a landscape painter, it makes much more sense to be outside.

  Over the Fence

Over the Fence

Nadine. Do you paint from memory, life, photographs?

Charly.  Never from photographs. I can always tell when someone does. It’s always flat.

Nadine.  Your painting is more left field, more intuitive, more emotional?

Charly.  Yes, absolutely. Also, I have great views from my deck and that gives me reference points and inspiration, and makes the experience really alive. And it encourages my kids to get involved. One of them, Khan, is always telling me what he thinks works and what he thinks doesn’t. He keeps me on my toes!

Nadine.  Favourite artists?

Charly.  Too long a list. The classics — Leonardo, Rembrandt. I was influenced by David Hockney in my early days. I have no art books in my studio. It’s too easy to be a sponge and then I lose me. So I don’t have too much around to influence me. I like to keep my head clean.

Nadine.  It’s interesting because these days, and probably always, everyone is so concerned with who’s who, who exhibits with whom, and where people position themselves. How do you feel about all that?

Charly.  Well, I was a finalist in the Wynne Prize in 2000 and in the Salon Des Refuses the year before that but it just made me quite cynical about the whole game and and I didn’t respect the judges’ choices, so I decided to go it alone and I’m much happier that way. I found that I wanted to paint for its own sake. Painting is its own reward for me. It’s my life.

Nadine.  You love to surf. Does that influence you?

Charly.  I’ve got a lot of energy and I need to burn it off. Watching the sunrise, taking in the landscape… riding the wave sure does influence me. That movement is all part of what I bring to the painting. When I surf, I’m immersed in the living landscape, and when I paint, I’m immersed in its painted representation. I can’t imagine life without one or the other.

 

 

 

 

Silly Sticky Fingers & All opens at JEFA Gallery

Silly Sticky Fingers & All - an exhibition featuring works of art by John Smith and Vitor Dos Santos - opens tomorrow night, 5:30pm, at JEFA Gallery in Bangalow.

 Vitor Dos Santos,  SMOOTH SEAS  - MIXED MEDIA ON BOARD - 80 x 75cm - $1,500

Vitor Dos Santos, SMOOTH SEAS - MIXED MEDIA ON BOARD - 80 x 75cm - $1,500

Vitor Dos Santos, a bilingual artist who travelled throughout his childhood, uses an eclectic mix of materials often on plywood - Charcoal, graphite, pencil, newspaper and acrylic paint. The artist imaginatively explores a disenchanted popular mass culture by provoking questions about language, travel communication and social hierarchies.

"Through an almost compulsive drawing process I was able to generate ideas and follow certain narratives, which led me to the absurdity of these paintings. The loose line work, rapid application of paint and childlike irreverence to formal etiquette only adds to the ironic disposition of the work". - Vitor Dos Santos

John Smith has developed a mixed media painting practice influenced by mid-20th century European "Art Brut" and "Art Informel". His lyrical, gestural painting process draws little distinction between the abstract and the concrete, similar to the raw and intuitive manner of child-like scribble and pre-lingual development of sounding in "toddlers".

"I invent glyphs and symbols to draw attention to the beautiful irony of the way we try to learn language and make meaning of life. I use anecdotes of lived experiences with young children, social narrative and myths. Rememberence resonates interweaving the 'carnivalesque' spirit of child play and the existential dilemma of human mortality." - John Smith
 John Smith,  BLACK BOARD GRONK - AHEAD OF STORM , ACRYLIC ON CANVAS ON BOARD - 122 x 100cm - $5,000

John Smith, BLACK BOARD GRONK - AHEAD OF STORM, ACRYLIC ON CANVAS ON BOARD - 122 x 100cm - $5,000

 Vitor Dos Santos,  EMPTY TANKS  - MIXED MEDIA ON BOARD - 120 x 90cm - $2,500

Vitor Dos Santos, EMPTY TANKS - MIXED MEDIA ON BOARD - 120 x 90cm - $2,500

 John Smith,  SNAPPY JACK  - ACRYLIC ON PAPER UNDER GLASS - 59 x 42cm - $1,950

John Smith, SNAPPY JACK - ACRYLIC ON PAPER UNDER GLASS - 59 x 42cm - $1,950

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Tweed Regional Gallery to host free Artist Talks this weekend

Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre will host talks by three diverse Indigenous artists this Sunday, 2 September 2018. 

Multi-media artist Judy Watson, along with regional artists Digby Moran and Michael Philp, will be discussing their artworks currently on exhibition at the Gallery.

 Digby Moran with his painting Bundjalung Stone Axe Gift of Margot Anthony AM, through the Tweed Regional Gallery Foundation Ltd., 2018 © The artist

Digby Moran with his painting Bundjalung Stone Axe Gift of Margot Anthony AM, through the Tweed Regional Gallery Foundation Ltd., 2018 © The artist

Judy Watson will speak to her work The Names of Places, currently on display in the touring exhibition Experimenta Make Sense,  as well as her artist prints held in the Gallery's permanent collection, a selection of which are currently on display as part of the Gallery's 30th anniversary exhibition Three Decades: celebrating the Tweed Regional Gallery collection.

Digby Moran and Michael Philp, also featured in Three Decades, will give insight into their works Bundjalung Stone Axe and Spotting for Sea Mullet, respectively.


EVENT DETAILS:

What:  Artist Talks

Where:  Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre

When:  Sunday 2 September at 2pm

Gallery Hours: Wednesday - Sunday, 10am - 5pm

Cost:    Free