From the Archive: Gatya Kelly

BAM visited Gatya Kelly in 2016 - just prior to her leaving for an artist residency at the prestigious Hill End, whose first wave of artists included Margaret Olley and Russell Drysdale. While her paintings may seem redolent of Old Master still lifes, she asserts the similarities are limited. The reality is  far more delicious.

Interview by Alana Wilson

  Cherry Amour , 2014, 91 x 91 cm, oil on canvas

Cherry Amour, 2014, 91 x 91 cm, oil on canvas

Alana.  What draws you to your subject matter?

Gatya.  In 2009 we went to Tuscany. We were there for winter, for five months. And I wanted to paint there. I didn’t normally paint very much when we were travelling, because we were in a van, and it wasn’t really conducive to working with oil paint. But there, we were staying in this one amazing house for five months, and so I set up a studio in the house. And I didn’t have a lot of equipment, or really anything there — I had a very, very basic set up. And I just thought, well, what can I do here that works, that relates to where I am, but practically is going to work for me? Most people in that situation will paint the landscape, because it’s truly phenomenal. But I’m not drawn to that. I’m not a landscape painter … I mean I love it, and I appreciate it, and I walk in it … but I’m not drawn to it as an artist. So I started to look around me … it was winter so there was a lot of dried up leaves and crunchy things, and these fruits like pomegranates and persimmons, walnuts and chestnuts … So it ended up being 14 paintings that I painted over that five-month period, in a particular still life style. A bit more contemporary looking than this series, actually — lighter backgrounds and so on. And so really it was not so much that I’d said that I wanted to do still life, it was because I was in this certain circumstance and that’s what I could paint in that situation. It was a wonderful old Tuscan farmhouse, so there were all sorts of vessels and things there, so that I was able to arrange all these compositions. I like the authenticity of working with things that are real and are actually in my environment. It’s not so much coming from my imagination, or derivative, but it really relates to my circumstances … I’m directly relating to these things right in front of me … It’s authentic to me. That matters a lot.

Alana.  Do you find that you are drawn to details?

Gatya.  I am. I enjoy figurative painting, because I guess I get a kick out of seeing something come to life on the canvas. I actually really get a kick out of that, personally.

Alana.  And an object that you relate to …

Gatya. Yes. So I like to see that metamorphosis. Again, that’s a personal thing. People often refer to the detail … there’s careful painting, but it’s not meticulous in a hyperrealist sense. It’s actually quite rough. If you get close up … somebody used the word contemporary recently. It’s quite loose — even though the overall effect is of something that’s quite tightly controlled and designed. So that’s also something that I enjoy, to have a certain lack of tightness in a painting, while it has this three-dimensional, realistic quality.

Alana.  What is it that you aim to portray in your paintings?

Red Chilli, Rose Garlic. 2014. Oil on canvas, 91cmx91cm.

Gatya.  What I aim to do with the paintings is to get a response from people. What I love is when somebody looks at a painting of mine and they go, wow That exhibition was titled Luscious because it was all this luscious, yummy, succulent stuff, and people respond to it that way … there was one woman who was looking at the strawberries, and I felt like I was going to have to stop her from licking the painting. You know, when they’re engaging with it so much that they’re actually experiencing it as the real thing. A lot of people say, “I want to eat it, I want to smell it, I want to touch it” … I love that that’s the response to the work, that they’re seeing it beyond a painting, that it’s actually doing something … really connecting very deeply inside at that level where they’re just reaching out for it. That’s very pleasing to me.

Alana.  The detail, depth and perspectives in your paintings are incredible. Do you incorporate photography as part of your process?

Gatya.  I do. I use photography. I go to quite a lot of trouble at that stage. I guess because of my design background, I think of paintings as designed — they’re not spontaneous. They’re put together in a very deliberate way. So they’re designed, they’re composed, they’re constructed. And when I’m sure that I’m happy with what I have, then I start to paint it.

Maganolia Raphaella, 2015. Oil on canvas, 45x45cm.

Alana.  How do you arrive at your compositions?

Gatya.  Often it’s what’s in season. These magnolias that I’m painting come from a tree at Brunswick Heads that I drive past when I go to the beach. So if I see that tree and think, I have to paint that, it’s almost like an obligation to paint it … and then it’s like, that means I’ve got to do it now, because it’s not going to be there in a week’s time. So it’s generally driven by the subject matter itself, in the case of these paintings. I’ll see a pomegranate somewhere, or somebody will lend me a beautiful bowl … that’s usually the initial inspiration. And from that I build what I feel goes with that first key element.

Alana.  So it’s not about symbolism?

Gatya.  It’s not, but this one — which is called Magnolia Vanitas Vanitas paintings were something that were done, I think, in the 16th and 17th centuries … Flemish and Dutch master painters … the whole still life tradition is very interesting and meaningful — it’s not really about just painting what I’m doing, painting things in front of you. Originally it was very symbolic, and the Dutch had this Calvinist Christian thing going on, so they had a lot to say about money, and wealth. So paintings were allegorical — they meant something to the people who were viewing them then. They didn’t have photography, and so on. So they served that function, that they don’t today. So vanitas paintings were to do with the vanity of life, the inevitability of death, that vanity is futile, basically … So those paintings — you would have seen it — they often have a skull in them, or a flickering candle. There are certain elements that occur in these paintings, so there is something dead, something that represents knowledge or the arts, something that represents wealth … So, I put this painting together, and I’m painting it and thinking, somebody is going to ask me, what does this mean? And I thought, maybe I can concoct a story retrospectively, because actually I didn’t have one. And I was looking at it and I thought, it’s a vanitas painting! And I checked it out, and all the elements were there … I liked that about it, that it was an allegory for life and death. But generally they’re not. Generally, they’re just bowls of fruit.

  Fig Paradiso , 2015. Oil on linen, 122x122 cm.

Fig Paradiso, 2015. Oil on linen, 122x122 cm.

'Life is a Marathon': Geoff Todd at Mitchell Fine Art

The common analogy ‘Life is a Marathon’ is explored by artist Geoff Todd in his new exhibition showing at Mitchell Fine Art in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane from 25th July.

   'Cul de Sac',    122 x 122cm, acrylic, charcoal and cotton gauze on canvas

'Cul de Sac', 122 x 122cm, acrylic, charcoal and cotton gauze on canvas

Culminating thirty years of artistic observation, Todd presents a series of poignant, powerful and sometimes aggressive artworks of two young female muses besieged with the contest of life. 
Each muse whilst from different backgrounds, share remarkable similarities in the successes and failures they have persevered through in their lives. Todd’s paintings centre around intimate and personal connections with his subjects, whilst exploring the broader themes of life’s challenges.
With his recognisable figurative style, Todd presents the positive with the pain. This is an exhibition about life and its struggles. It is about running the gauntlet, running to win or even just running to participate”.
Marathon explores life’s hardships, its challenges, successes, failures and ultimately our ability to endure. The exhibition is showing from 25th July – 18th August 2018 at Mitchell Fine Art in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.
Join Geoff Todd for the opening of his new show on Friday 27thJuly from 6 – 8pm. This is a free event.
On Saturday 28th July at 2pm, Geoff will also hold an Artist talk in the gallery discussing his work and inspiration.


OFFICIAL OPENING: Friday 27th July from 6pm – 8pm

ARTIST TALK: Saturday 28th July from 2pm

Artists explore Australia as an exotic land

Australian exotica, a new travelling exhibition from Monash Gallery of Art (MGA), opens at Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre on Friday 20 July.

Drawing on MGA's nationally significant collection of Australian photographs, the exhibition showcases the works of some of Australia's most celebrated artists, engaging with the theme of the exotic antipodes.

 Peter Dombrovskis, Lake Oberon, Western Arthur Range, south-west Tasmania 1988, pigment inkjet print, 74.5 x 94.2cm

Peter Dombrovskis, Lake Oberon, Western Arthur Range, south-west Tasmania 1988, pigment inkjet print, 74.5 x 94.2cm

 Joseph McGlennon, Florilegium #1 2014 from the series Florileigum, pigment ink-jet print, 127 x 100cm

Joseph McGlennon, Florilegium #1 2014 from the series Florileigum, pigment ink-jet print, 127 x 100cm

Since the 15th century, when European cartographers began including the contour of Terra Australis Incognita ('the unknown land of the south') in their speculative maps of the globe, the continent of Australia has been thought of as an exotic place. And when European explorers finally reached the southern continent, reports of unfamiliar flora, fauna and indigenous people only perpetuated this striking vision.

The characterisation of Australia as a land down under, where things are out of the ordinary and colourfully unconventional, remains a key feature of this country's national identity. No longer just a projection of a European imagination, Australians themselves have come to celebrate the topsy-turvy nature of life in the land of Oz, where marsupials lay eggs, Christmas celebrations take place at the height of summer, and water supposedly goes down the drain in an anticlockwise direction.

MGA Curator, Stella Loftus-Hills, said of the exhibition: "Our aim is to provide people with the opportunity to achieve a deeper appreciation of photography. This exhibition includes prominent Australian photographs that relate to what it means to be an Australian, or at least what someone looking in might think about this country."

"I hope people would leave the exhibition feeling as though they had experienced something new about photography and Australia, something  that perhaps they hadn't realised before," she said.

Australian exotica features the work of 11 prominent Australian photographers, including Brook Andrew, Michael Cook, Destiny Deacon, Peter Dombrovskis, Marian Drew, Leah King-Smith, Joseph McGlennon, Tracey Moffatt, Darren Siwes, Robyn Stacey and Christian Bumbarra Thompson.

All are welcome to attend the opening celebrations at Tweed Regional Gallery on Friday 27 July at 6pm with guest speaker Craig Tuffin, Photographic Artist.

The exhibition will be opened in conjunction with Experimenta Make Sense and Alison Allcock: Exchange. The exhibition runs from 20 July to 23 September 2018.

Dynamic drawing classes in the Northern Rivers

Ron Curran has been facilitating Dynamic Drawing classes in Byron Bay and Melbourne for 17 years.


What does ‘Dynamic Drawing’ mean?  Isn’t it a life drawing class?

Ron.  Not really ... Its focus isn’t on figure based/textbook-style drawing, even though we use a model. Dynamic Drawing, in a sense, is about the stuff that operates you - your uniqueness, your coding, so to speak - in particular, the visual language that you are inhabited by. That’s the dynamic part of the drawing forum that is called dynamic drawing and how it has evolved.  Everyone’s different. Just as in the history of art, it is the greatest and most striking differences that have defined the best work/the greatest work. These ‘differences’ are real and are characterised by  potent intimacies that ultimately set up their own perspectives and structures. The best work is ultimately the most authentic and often, at the time of its emergence, the most delinquent, raw and rule smashing, the most ambiguous, uncompromising and often exotic in nature.  It doesn’t abide to any particular academic tradition but demands its own territory and voice.


Don’t you need a few basic rules?  Shouldn’t you first learn how to draw properly?

Ron.  As soon as you start using words like ‘should’ or ‘properly’, you immediately set yourself up in a classic trap because you assume there is a position or a particular way in which to see the world.  The whole history of art has been all about traditions being constantly challenged and swept aside by new and more relevant voices and structures by radical new intimacies and brilliant adventures. Great art is deeply informed and all about the practitioner’s ability to sign off on their experience in a way that is compelling and unquestionable in its dimension and vision.  Van Gogh did not go out into the cornfields with a ‘how to draw dogs’ book under his arm.  He was consumed by passion and inspiration and simply did what he had to do.  In fact, at least 50% of the major artists in the last 100 years were not ‘institutional’ products but driven individuals with vision.  The other 50% found it necessary to depart the tradition to be able to go to the place where their vision was calling them. They were ‘flag bearers’ – in fact the very history of art is all about cultural shift and people getting in proportion with new realities.  The academic notion of drawing can be compared to a hairdressing salon where, in the end, everyone tends to walk out the door with the same haircut. This is the very last thing I want to happen in my classes.   Originality is the only way. Ultimately, art is not a fashion parade or a trade fair. Art should not be mistaken for boutique – its currency is risk, inspiration and vision. It’s an odyssey and an exploration into what operates us as individuals into our core realities. It is a search for voice. Structures are the things we build from inside out to house our experience and to explain the often very fractured nature of that experience. It is different for everyone.  There is no fixed tradition - only the evolution and total emergency of translation. The best art is uncompromisingly intimate and self-governing. The best art does not work from the outside in but inside out. The best art does not hide its own debates but makes glorious our uncertainties.

But what of all the traditions and skills and the hallowed and established techniques that one needs to learn in order to draw and paint?

Ron.  Techniques and skills are vehicles that are used to transport ideas and images. There are thousands of ways that this can be engaged, that is to move ideas to ‘house’ one’s experience. One needs only to flick through any reputable art history book to see this. There are as many visual languages as there are dialects and structures on earth. These exist both inside and outside of our selves. The major artists have had to make a claim on and rebuild from the ground up their own realities. To engage in comparisons is ultimately meaningless, as it is to talk in ‘shoulds' and ‘shouldn’ts’.  What is important is, is the work any good? Does it communicate? Does it have a continuity, tuning or power? No matter how ambiguous, visceral, contradictory, raw or unsettling it may be, good work in the end is good work. Techniques are decided upon/chosen only when one has finally met oneself in language and knows to some extent where one is coming from and possibly going to.  It’s a traveller’s decision.

How do you mean ‘meet yourself’?

Ron.  Through a ruthless process of self-appraisal, through a process of abandonment and inside-out drawing, through a kind of radical meditation and witness, through a process of deliberate fracture, mark-making and challenge so we are able to bust our own preciousness barriers. For example, if you create a kind of no-man’s land between yourself and the subject/your experience, then you’re simply not engaged, you’re just a bystander.  That is, if you just balance images on the end of your nose all day and externalise yourself from your feelings, then you’re only ever a fence sitter and your work will increasingly be derivative and ultimately you will be short-changed of your own best and most total possibilities.  And you will never make the big break or do the mighty quantum leap needed to get back home to your signature experience where creatively all the really important stuff sits - in the factory of the sensibility/in the language depot.  In the end it’s a kind of hunch, a stab in the dark, an act of blind faith.  But if you’re serious about all this you’ve got to let go of the academic apron strings.  Otherwise you’re only ever going to be a Sunday painter.   Great art doesn’t happen on the edge of your eyeballs or at the end of your thumb, it happens where the machinery is, the machinery of the blood, the intuition and the instinct. As practitioners, we need to establish our territory through a sense of real responsibility and set up mark-making invitations from which our structures can visit and emerge.

What is your role as a teacher/facilitator?

Ron.  Again, it’s the same thing. I do not have any fixed or nameable role in relation to what I do. Each day’s a new day with a different and unexpected mix. I take it as it comes. I pick up on the people and the signals in the room and ask the questions that need to be asked. I can offer strategies, either from the floor or one on one, depending on the mix.  Each person, each day, new scenario. Art is all about the nature of the unexpected; about both inspiration and destruction. It is elemental, bouncy and fluid and never behaves in the way we think it should.  But it’s within these very contradictory panoramas that some of the best work emerges. I offer base line strategies as a kind of meditation and witness process into simply letting go, into busting assumptions and developing trust with one’s sensibility.

Why do you only do short poses?  There doesn’t seem to be time for people to finish their drawings ...

Ron.  Again we get into the land of assumptions. In this case, what is a drawing? And more particularly, what is a finished drawing? The fact is good drawing is not at all about quantifying stuff, whether you’ve got all the ‘bits’ in … it is about the quality of translation, the potency and personality of the mark-making and the kind of panoramas that are being set up within the work.  That is, the sort of magic you are practising. It is not at all, necessarily, about the outside, visually identifiable world.  It is about the kind of language you are talking and where that takes you … and there is no end to that process.  It is alchemical and transformative, it’s about invocation and tuning. About the song you sing. So really a drawing is never actually finished, it’s dimensional and ever-expanding in its metaphors ... it’s about finding your starting points and letting those expand and invite, in whatever way necessary,  the things that are needed to explain what it is you are experiencing.  Good drawings are, in fact, clock smashers … in a sense, time’s got nothing to do with it. We find our timepiece, our real calibration, within the work itself.

For more information on dynamic drawing classes in the Northern Rivers, visit:


Art in the Pub: BAM's Sharne Wolff and Jane Denison on Australian Art and Walking

Join us at the Courthouse Hotel for Art in the Pub, as BAM Associate Editor Sharne Wolff and contributor Jane Denison speak about From Here to There: Australian art and walking.


Finalists selected for Portrait Prize at Lismore Regional Gallery

69 portraits have been painstakingly selected from 211 strong entries for the Hurford Hardwood Portrait Prize. These 69 will be included in the exhibition of finalists at Lismore Regional Gallery from 28 July – 23 September 2018. The announcement of the winner will be by this year’s judge, Dr Michael Brand, Director, Art Gallery NSW, on Saturday 28 July at 12 midday.

   Robert Malherbe ,  Nina looking up   2018, oil on board, 46 x 38cm, image courtesy the artist and Michael Reid Gallery, Sydney

Robert Malherbe, Nina looking up 2018, oil on board, 46 x 38cm, image courtesy the artist and Michael Reid Gallery, Sydney

According to Kezia Geddes, curator, Lismore Regional Gallery, “Portraiture is Australia’s favourite genera of art. Big art prizes like The Archibald, The Doug Moran and The Portia Geach Memorial are testament to our love of the portrait. People are ultimately programmed to understand the human face and its many expressions. It is therefore not surprising that we are so readily enchanted by the ability of artists to render subtle nuances of a person and to capture something - whether this be a likeness or an aspect of someone’s persona.”

The Hurford Hardwood Prize started in response to a public call for a portraiture prize in the region. Now in its 8th year the prize was originally called The Northern Rivers Portrait Prize, and it was a painting and drawing prize open to artists whose artwork depicted a person from the Northern Rivers. It has since expanded to include portraits of any subject in any medium and is open to artists Australia wide. The finalist works reflect this expansion and include paintings, drawings, photographs, ceramics, and video portraits. Subjects are equally diverse and include local identities such as, Michael Balderstone, Dailan Pugh OAM and Ric Richardson, celebrities like Reg Mombassa, and more personal portraits of artists’ family members and quite a few self-portraits.

Gallery staff were so impressed by the standard of entries that the Permanent Collection Gallery (usually dedicated to exhibiting the permanent collection) was made available for the exhibition.

According to Brett Adlington, Director Lismore Regional Gallery, “The winner will receive $10,000 and the work will become part of Lismore Regional Gallery’s art collection. The prize money has been provided by local business, Hurford Hardwood. The Hurford Hardwood Portrait Prize is one of our most popular exhibitions and we are very grateful to Hurfords for their generosity and support which makes the exhibition possible.”

“Hurfords are proud to have been involved in the Hurford Hardwood Portrait Prize since 2012. It is magnificent to see the growth of its popularity now attracting entries from every state & territory  across Australia as well as plenty of local entries. We look forward to a very diverse & stimulating exhibition." say sponsors, Gaela and Andrew Hurford.

   Todd Fuller ,  Billy's Swan   2017, video still, chalk and charcoal animation and video, 5:37 mins, courtesy the artist and MAY SPACE, Sydney

Todd Fuller, Billy's Swan  2017, video still, chalk and charcoal animation and video, 5:37 mins, courtesy the artist and MAY SPACE, Sydney

Adlington says, “Lismore Regional Gallery has also provided a $1000 People’s Choice Award which will be awarded to the artist with the highest number of public votes”. Prizes are controversial by nature, after all.  

2018 Hurford Hardwood Portrait Prize finalists
Abbey McCulloch, Amanda Bromfield, Amanda Penrose Hart, Andre Bowen, Anne-Marie Zanetti, Ashley Frost, Caroline Zilinsky, Chelsea Gustafsson, Chris Hazell, Clara Adolphs, Clare Thackway, Corinna Berndt, David Wells, Dr Darien Midwinter, Fleur Diamond, Geoff Harvey, Georgi Milln, Guy Morgan, Hilary Herrmann and James Guppy, Ian Roberts, Ildiko Hammond, Jacklyn Wagner, James Bowles-Leeson, James J De Weaver, Jane Theau, Jenny Johns, John Smith and Nikky-Morgan Smith, Karen Preston, Kendal Gear, Kenneth Craig Lambert, KHR Stewart, Kylie Foley, Lisa Axiotis, Liz Stute, Lucas Wright, Lucila Zentner, Lynden Stone, Marc Stapelberg, Marian Drew, Martin Claydon, Martin Edge, Matilda Michell, Matthew O'Brien, Maya Veit, Meg K Nielsen, Michael Simms, Nic Mason, Nicholas Ferguson, Nicole Kelly, Nicole Monks, Raimond de Weerdt, Raj Panda, Rene Bolten, Rikki Fisher, Robert Malherbe, Ryan Mugan, Sachin Moncrieff, Samuel Condon, Stephen Nothling, Steven Giese, Symone Male, Thomas Readett, Todd Fuller, Tony Kearney, Tony Leitch, Trinity Leonard, Vanessa White, Virginia Hodgkinson, Zom Osborne
Saturday 28 July, 12:00 midday
Official opening and winner announcement by Dr Michael Brand, Director, Art Gallery NSW

CUBE to exhibit Noel Hart glass works

CUBE, the smallest gallery in the Southern Hemisphere, is located in Mullumbimby.

Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 5.25.22 pm.jpg

July 10 sees a change over of art in the CUBE. Artists Noel Hart and Curator Dev Lengjel met at 2pm in the council admin in Mullumbimby to change over the exhibition from Jennifer Grainger to Noel Hart.

Noel Hart is a multi-disciplinary visual artist who has lived in the rainforest of Huonbrook, west of Mullumbimby for 30 years. In that time he has developed a unique visual language utilising blown glass in an expressive painterly manner. This work has been exhibited internationally
for the last 20 years.

The colours in the glass reference either species of parrots which are at risk of extinction, or, if they do survive the present onslaught, the colours of speculative as yet unevolved species.

Woven Sculpture, Wearable Art and Sound Installation at Dust Temple


Exploring The Ephemeral Nature Of Home

 Saturday 7th July - Thursday 2nd August

@ DUST TEMPLE, 54 Currumbin Creek Road, Currumbin

OPENING NIGHT - Saturday 7th July 2018 @ 6pm


A Multiple Disciplinary Art Exhibition

Featuring Woven Sculpture,  Wearable Art, and Sound Installation as a unique body of work created by two local emerging artists

Anaheke Metua & WHAIA

Diving deep into their cultural roots and showcasing a unique set of skills in woven sculpture, wearable art, and sound installation
these bold and authentic artists have created an exhibition that is a compelling ode to the strength,
beauty, and skill of our avian counterparts.
complimentary artworks explore the rich symbolism of the NEST as an ephemeral home through texture, malleability, colour, use of raw materials, sound and video.

Sculptor and Fibre Artist
Anaheke Metua


This body of work is a retrospective view of the many and varied homes that have shaped Anaheke’s life and work as an artist.
This process has nurtured an inward journey through her bloodlines, cultural
beliefs and behaviors regenerating her idea of  home to reshape and strengthen her NEST for the next generation.

Sonic Weaver


Wearable Arts Designer

Whaia creates a range of Fine Art Headwear embellished with a wide spectrum of crystals, up-cycled antique jewelry, and fabrics complimenting the energy of each individual piece,
destined to get your attention and awaken the inner Goddess

As a ‘Sonic Weaver’, Whaia integrates her collection of Traditional First Nations instruments, Singing Crystal Bowls and divine vocals, bringing forth her unique delivery of Sacred Sonic Ceremonies.

Whaia nurtures you through her meditation sound journeys, creating an atmosphere that is sure to put a lasting resonance in your cells.


The Eighth Annual Grace Cruice Memorial Exhibition

Northern Rivers Community Gallery (NRCG) Ballina launches an exciting new exhibition this month and welcomes community and visitors to join us in the Gallery.


The Eighth Annual Grace Cruice Memorial Exhibition features new 2D and 3D fine art works by members of Ballina Arts and Crafts Centre Inc. The exhibition showcases the diverse talents of the group which draws its members from all over the Northern Rivers region.

This exhibition celebrates the role played by early BACCI members in the establishment of the Northern Rivers Community Gallery and through this display, also hopes to encourage new members to join and share BACCI’s passion for creativity.

Exhibition opens Wednesday 6 June 2018 and continue until Sunday 1 July 2018. The official launch event is Thursday 7 June from 5.30pm – 7.30pm and all are welcome to attend.

Ignite Studios Launch Party

Ballina Shire Council and Northern Rivers Community Gallery will throw open the shiny new big red doors of Ballina’s newest art space, Ignite Studios @ NRCG on Saturday 5 May and everyone is invited to the party!


The beautiful heritage building, formerly the Ballina Fire Station, has undergone minor building works over the last eight months in preparation for it’s new life as an arts space for the ongoing enjoyment of the community.

The Launch Party is on Saturday 5 May 2018 from 9.30am until 2.30pm at ‘Ignite Studios @ NRCG’ located adjacent to the Gallery at 60 Crane Street Ballina. This a free family friendly event.

The Northern Rivers Community Gallery is located at 44 Cherry Street Ballina and is open Wednesday to Friday from 10am until 4pm and weekends from 9.30am until 2.30pm.
For further information contact the Gallery on telephone 02 6681 6167.

Indigenous Artist Blak Douglas on Government Transparency at JEFA

Openness, accountability, and honesty define government transparency. In a free society, transparency is government's obligation to share information with the people. It is at the heart of how citizens hold their public officials accountable.
Artist Blak Douglas asks: Do governments in fact serve the people?
What covenant has been made to the original custodians of this land?

  Don't Mess with the Missionary Man  2018, 120 x 100 cm

Don't Mess with the Missionary Man 2018, 120 x 100 cm

"Transparent Covenant explores the farcical landscape of 'Australian' politics and unashamedly portrays the systemic conspiratorial actions of successive governments to uphold the genocide on first nations peoples of this continent," says artist Blak Douglas. "I employ the ubiquitous 'toilet door' figurative logos as a perfect exemplar of the faceless Aboriginal individual today. The soul stripped countryman living at the bottom of the pile amidst an ever-growing fraternity of egotistical power brokers and their 'do good' policies."

  Dog's Breakfast

Dog's Breakfast

“Blak Douglas’s work is highly significant and profoundly bold in its depiction and message. What we have here is an artist that is completely dedicated to delivering the truth as he has it. Particularly focusing on what it means to be an Aboriginal man with part Irish decent in the 21st century. All the cultural clichés that haunt him and the ironies present within the “Australian Dream”.

- Julian Edwards JEFA Gallery


The light touch of Kathryn Dolby

Still in her twenties, Kathryn Dolby’s artistic career is off to a strong start. In 2014 she won the Lismore Regional Gallery Graduate Award for her final exhibition installation work, Fluid and Fixed. The Lismore-born artist gained professional placement time in Sydney with Archibald-winning painters Ben Quilty and Guy Maestri. She has since become one of the region’s most recognisable emerging artists, as well as a new mother.

Interview by Jamie-Lee Rowley

  Misty Morn  2016, acrylic on board, 81.5 x 61 cm

Misty Morn 2016, acrylic on board, 81.5 x 61 cm

Jamie.  What inspired you to become a professional artist?
Kathryn.  When I was in high school the thought of feeling stuck in a profession I didn’t like scared me more than anything! So in a sense there was a kind of fear that motivated me to put my energy into what I loved. It never really felt like a decision to become a professional artist, it just felt like the most natural progression for me as nothing else ever really made me feel as myself, or as alive as when I’m creating or working with creative people. I think the inspiration began right back in primary school when we had guest artists doing demonstrations for the class and then through high school where my escape was the art block. My family were always supportive as they could see it was where my heart was, so it didn’t ever feel difficult in that sense. I know a lot of people struggled with family pressures but I was lucky to bypass that one.

  The Trees Are Purple  2016, acrylic on board, 40cm x 50cm

The Trees Are Purple 2016, acrylic on board, 40cm x 50cm

Jamie.  How has your work developed over time, and what are your influences?
Kathryn.  The quality of materials for one thing; when I was young and starting out I'd raid the cupboard for tumeric, coffee and chocolate sauce to paint with! One of the first influential moments was when I was a teenager and saw an abstract expressive painting in a magazine, I don’t remember who it was by, but I felt the power of it leave the page and hit me right in the guts. So in the very beginning it was Abstract Expressionists like Pollock and De Kooning who excited me the most because of that sheer freedom in the expression. Over the years those influencers have changed after study and my appreciation for conceptual art grew. I fell in love with artists like Robert Ryman and Joseph Marioni and how they tease the viewer with a sense of space. So now, even if I’m painting in an abstract way I’m more conscious of loading the image with specific experiences or using the painting or installation to ask questions and challenge the eye. I really like to create a tension in the works. How simple is too simple? What happens if I just focus on this one colour? Or add a hard edge line next to all the gestural marks? It’s the most stimulating for me when each new body of work departs from the last and takes on new questions but it’s still steeped in your own experiences. I also spent some time over the last few years with some landscape painters who influenced my most recent paintings. I’d never perceived myself as a landscape painter but once you start looking you realise everything is a kind of landscape.

  Two  2016, acrylic on board, 66 cm x 32 cm

Two 2016, acrylic on board, 66 cm x 32 cm

Jamie.  Is there a representational aspect to your works?
Kathryn.  Some work more so than others, but usually yes, although my work isn’t purely abstract or representational. They’re painted in an abstract way but subtly reference very real spaces, objects or encounters. I’m continually collecting and drawing from information in my daily life and then I return into the studio with it to pull it apart, deconstruct and reduce. It becomes a very intuitive process of reduction, where I might start with looking at a landscape, and by the end of the process the painting heroes just a single colour that I found most intriguing from that landscape. Abstraction allows much more freedom in the studio to be playful, to be able to mess with things and bend the rules so you’re not just creating a pretty picture. The works then become much more ambiguous and open for interpretation and I like that sense of not spoon-feeding the viewer but giving subtle clues.

Jamie.  What are your influences?
Kathryn.  I like looking to the poetry that is everywhere in the mundane routines of our daily life, the colours in the landscape and the spaces in the home.  The repetitive action of washing and stacking the dishes, washing windows, moving house, walking, and sounds in the landscape. I’m very sensitive to the spaces I occupy and I think that really filters into the paintings. I’m a bit addicted to dramatising that sense of spaciousness in a lot of my work, as I love the quiet tension it creates. Like in music, the space in between the notes is often far more interesting that the notes themselves. An interest in that silence stems from being bombarded in our digital age with information and imagery, so it really began as a kind of reactionary respite to that.

Jamie.  Has having a child affected your work?
Kathryn.  It’s such early days to really see how she has affected my style, as she’s still so fresh, being 8 weeks old now! I’ve really just begun venturing back into the studio again, but having a child definitely shifts things and changes you in more ways than you can anticipate or ever be told. Artistically I think the whole experience has become rich fodder to work from and I feel like there will be a shift, even if it is in a subtle way … like drawing from the nature of sleep (or lack of it), of time and waiting. Throughout the pregnancy I had a lot of time to think and reflect on where I wanted my work to go. I love working from an intimate, personal and experiential level as I think it’s when you create the most honest and interesting work. I feel like this whole experience of becoming a mother has just given my practice another gear in that sense. But it will definitely be a time juggle. I was chuckling about it with another artist and first-time mumma friend of mine who said I’ll have to just go in there and throw the whole paint tube at the canvas and hope for the best! But really I think it’s a very interesting topic and I’ve been brewing some ideas about getting other artist mums together for a project or two. 

  Emerson Road  2016, acrylic on board, 42 cm x 60 cm

Emerson Road 2016, acrylic on board, 42 cm x 60 cm

SEALEVEL - The Art of Awareness - Ocean Photography Exhibition by Ted Grambeau

Renowned ocean, surf and adventure photographer Ted Grambeau has created a collection of abstract ocean images in hope of bringing our attention to the very real issue of climate change.

For over 40 years, Melbourne-born Ted Grambeau has been consumed by his quest to capture the world through his lens. It's an obsession that has led him on a journey to nearly 100 countries, exhausting over a dozen passports. He’s mostly known for leading adventure expeditions into remote locations in search of undiscovered waves and is most at home when deeply immersed in the ocean.


“Photography is more than a passion, it is my life,” he says. With formal studies in Illustrative photography at RMIT University in Melbourne, Grambeau communicates an intimate relationship with light, a sophisticated understanding of its various expressions – the refraction, reflection and absorptions. The documentary nature of this project requires that Ted be at the waters edge before dawn, when most of us haven’t even thought about opening our eyes.

When he’s not chasing monster waves half way around the world, he prefers to live by the ocean at Currumbin on the Gold Coast. Finding balance, Ted keeps life ‘low key’ but when given the opportunity to share his thoughts on photography an animated creative is revealed.

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 9.53.32 am.jpg

He is inspired by the Masters Henri Cartier-Bresson and Sebastião Salgado. A photojournalist style is expressed in his work after having spent his formative time assisting the great Magnum legend Burt Glinn of New York.

As Ted explains his views on environmental issues, he touches on the frustration he feels towards climate change and the urgency of action that needs to occur before our sea levels rise beyond the point of no return. “The effects will be devastating before we actually notice.” he says.

 Image courtesy Trent Mitchell

Image courtesy Trent Mitchell

Ted is one of the world’s great surf and ocean photographers. Over the past 30 or so years he’s had more surf magazine covers than he can remember. His CV of magazine articles, expeditions, movies and books is an afternoon's read in anyone's language. He studies and monitors weather maps and understands the intricacies of an impending swell forecast well in advance. He has traveled to locations that will be lost, submerged under water once the sea levels start to rise due to the change in climate.

Excited by the prospects of exhibiting his work again, Ted reflects on the first time he showed his SEALEVEL Series at the Pipeline Gallery in Hawaii. Special guests like Kelly Slater and leading environmentalist Jack Johnson came along, with Jack’s wife Kim selecting a few pieces to hang in their home on the North Shore. And then in Sydney at the prestigious Stanley Street Gallery in Darlinghurst as a featured solo exhibition for the Head On Photo Festival. “It’s always great to spend some time chatting with art collectors and critics, all with an ecstatically positive response so far. “It’s nice to use my photography in a positive manner and that I have something to give and make a contribution for spending a bit of time on the planet.”

  sealevel #3

sealevel #3

Ted’s current exhibition is showing at the Hinge Gallery, located at the Dust Temple in Currumbin as part of the Bleach Festival and Gold Coasts Arts and Culture feature coinciding with the 2018 Commonwealth Games celebrations. Opening night will be a bit special as Grambeau will be launching and signing copies of his new book Adventures in Light - a photographic journey spanning four decades combined with his abstract ocean photography exhibition SEALEVEL - The Art of Awareness.

EXCAVATIONS OF THE DEEP: Artist Jess Leitmanis on her solo show at Lone Goat Gallery in Byron Bay

Perhaps the first thing you should know about me is that I have over 720 kgs of marine debris rope in my possession. I wasn’t always this wealthy. This didn’t come about by pure chance. I’ll endeavour to enlighten you on what led me to this juncture, how I became the proud guardian of this unusual bounty, and what I’ve been doing with it...

me and ball of rope - cmyk.jpg

I wear a mask when working. Micro-plastics break away and become airborne during the unravelling and weaving process. It sticks. To my clothes. To my eyelashes. To my mind. Without a mask, my nostrils would become coated with a fine plastic dust. I have experienced this once, early on, working with coloured rope. Yes. Bad news. I keep the majority of the broken fragments and fibres that are too small to weave, because this is an important part of the story and the lifespan of our ‘stuff’. It is interesting to note that on a molecular level, the composition of plastic is so complex that it cannot return to an organic state. This in itself is food for thought... Perhaps not only in the abstract sense.

rope crumbs- cmyk.jpg

Each piece of rope behaves differently depending on the composition of filaments and the quirks nature has imposed on it. In working with this material, I’m forced to be adaptable and responsive, rather than attaching myself to a rigid idea of an outcome. Art basically teaches me about life. It is in the challenges that I find the most potential for growth.

1. spouts from which to drink CMYK print.jpg

The triggers for my work are undoubtedly environmental in sentiment, but the conversations that really intrigue me are ones that explore the motivations that have led us here. I work with the excess of human society, the bits that have fallen through the cracks. I look at the objects we construct; their function, design, and lifespan; I'm interested in what they tell us about ourselves and our values as collective culture. I'm basically wanting to hack open and inspect the thought processes that brought about this version of reality. What is driving us? Human choice. Behaviour patterns. Values. Biology. Environment. Information. Disconnect. I want to understand the influences, and consider the alternatives. So my artwork is about creating dialogue. And that’s also what I do when I find these bits of debris. I have a little chat with it...

I imagine the journey it has been on; the lengths it has traveled to find me; here, in it’s current disheveled state. The rope holds character. Experience is etched into its sun weary flesh. An old sailor, brittle, faded, baked and ravaged by the ocean, and the elements. Character is why I choose rope in favour of other debris. I unravel it to highlight the variation between the interior and the exterior. The exposed parts of the rope hold the charms that only time and a life of experience can impart. Sheltered inside the twist are fibres still strong and vibrant in colour. Once the rope is unraveled we begin to see the full picture, a timeline of sorts. With each piece I work with a fairly restricted colour palette, so that the rope and its character can do the talking. I’m focusing on the texture of the rope, the degradation of a material.

In my current exhibition and previous works, I’m being quite playful with the titles of my art. I reflect on the past, and how we use relics to draw conclusions about former civilisations. Then, I use that lens to challenge how we see ourselves in the modern day. A contemporary archaeology of sorts. Perhaps helping us step outside the present moment and observe ourselves from a different vantage point. Initially I found it hard to articulate what I was doing with these names, because there’s another side to that coin. It’s me having a laugh during the creation process. Making light of a grim situation, or the absurdity of humans... My humour can be quite dark. So I think it’s one of those things that came about intuitively, or subconsciously, and then I understood its purpose later. Also, I think that dark humour, and being quite cynical at times, is strangely what makes me so fiercely optimistic. There’s something about laughter in that darkness, that reminds you there’s always a way out. Dark and light are often found in the journey of making art, funnily enough.

There’s definitely something in the idea of duality, of opposites, that I’m intrigued about or drawn to. It’s something I play on a bit with my new body of work. I’m looking at the inter-related nature of things and curious parallels. The relationship between mind and matter. To what degree does our internal world influence our external world? To what degree does our environment influence our thoughts? The seen and the unseen. The surface and the submerged. The conscious and the subconscious. Perhaps it’s all one and not the same.

For me, art is an invitation to look at the world through a different lens. Still, we all respond with our own eyes and our own individual set of experiences. It is impossible to do otherwise. That is the cool thing... An artwork exists, resonates, connects in a different way with each of us. Every person breathes into it, different life.

A contemporary archaeological dig of mind and matter.
23 March – 18 April 2018

Jessica Leitmanis
instagram: jessleitmanis








We're Closer Than You Think: Northern Rivers Artists

Part of ArtState 2017, We’re Closer Than You Think brings together artwork by several artists based in the Northern Rivers. The exhibition questions the notion of regionality and the perception that artists working outside of metropolitan areas are hindered by location.
In various stages of their career and working across a range of disciplines, each artist in the exhibition was chosen for inadvertently refuting the relationship between location and success, population and production, and that the quality of their practice is determined by these imaginary borders.

Be quick! We’re Closer Than You Think will be open until Friday 8 December.
Co-curated by Natalie Bull and Zoe Robinson-Kennedy.

 Image: Helle Jorgensen,  The lofty thoughts generator and processor . Photo by Michelle Eabry.

Image: Helle Jorgensen, The lofty thoughts generator and processor. Photo by Michelle Eabry.


Skye Baker
Amanda Bromfield
Kylie Caldwell
Ben Crawford
Michael Cusack
Karla Dickens
Kathryn Dolby
Penny Evans
Stephen Garrett
Natalie Grono
Charlotte Haywood
Helle Jorgensen
Jenny Kitchener
Mahala Magins
Robert Moore
Jess O’Connor
Kat Shapiro-Wood
Amber Wallis
Christine Willcocks


The OLD Gallery
(next to Palate Cafe)
131 Molesworth St
Lismore, NSW 2480

BSA ArtState Exhibitions: APOLLO & Nine

Byron School of Art is presenting two exhibitions as part of ArtState: Nine, at the BSA Project Space, and APOLLO in Lismore.

  Diana Miller's  Quilted Earth , acrylic on linen

Diana Miller's Quilted Earth, acrylic on linen

Also, BSA Alumni are showing throughout Lismore, including at the old Lismore Regional Gallery site.

FRIDAY 1 December 6 - 8pm : Opening of Nine

112 Dalley St, Mullumbimby
Exhibition runs from 1 - 13 December
Open six days, closed Sundays, 10am to 2pm
or by appointment 0431 034 892



Showing as part of ArtState Lismore 2017


James Guppy
Alex Hudson
Travis Paterson
Melissa Poole
Zuzana Kovar & Nicholas Skepper
Christine Willcocks

An assembly without the limits of the square

30 November - 3 December 2017

  James Guppy's  Touching her back , acrylic on canvas, 2016  

James Guppy's Touching her back, acrylic on canvas, 2016  

Apollo is a group show from the Byron School of Art BSA Project Space.  It is a re-pairing of works and an assembly without the limits of the square: both documenting a number of past exhibitions and responding to the semi-submerged toy theatre where the exhibition is housed.

Downstairs Studio, 152 Keen Street, Lismore
Thursday 12pm - 3pm | Friday 10am - 8pm
Saturday 10am - 8pm | Sunday 10am - 3pm

#PRIZENOPRIZE at The Walls Art Space



Opening this Saturday 2 December 5 - 8pm

*Opening night only performance by VEOPLE 6.30pm
**Complimentary Stone & Wood Beer and Miami Mimosas on the house, all night!

Exhibition continues until 16 December, 2017


Riding along the undercurrents of Turner Prizes and Archibalds, #PRIZENOPRIZE is an exhibition that champions and democratises art across all media and levels. Think of it as a soft power alternative to the head-churning, nail-biting process that comes with applying for art awards - or being shortlisted for the coveted Bachelor rose of the artworld.

There is no prize money, entry fee or % commission on sales; instead this is an open platform for contemporary and experimental artists (especially emerging artists) across Australia to exhibit/perform at THE WALLS this December -- which we think is a prize in itself. We'll be showcasing a cross-section of works, including multi-disciplinary, projection and moving-image based, performance and large-scale installation works. #PRIZENOPRIZE 2017 marks the second year of the national open call and exhibition.

CHASE ARCHER is an emerging artist based in Brisbane. Chase obtained his Bachelor of Fine Art in 2015 from the Queensland College of Art and is currently completing his Honours. Archer questions how traditional media practices such as painting, print and drawing can maintain relevance in a contemporary environment that is focused on dematerialised art practices. He describes his artworks as painted collages, assembled from images ranging from personal iPhone photos, to the historic art canon. In creating artworks on translucently primed plywood substrates, which remain visible in the final artworks, Archer disrupts the ‘illusory window’ often employed in traditional paintings, creating a platform in which he presents his deconstructed artworks. Archer regularly exhibits in Brisbane and Melbourne, and recently completed a month-long residency on the west coast of Tasmania.

HAILEY ATKINS is a Brisbane based artist making work that she hopes makes people feel good and remember laughing is good stuff – especially when it’s at your own self. Her sculptural practice sits at the intersection of humour, failure and ambivalence, and explores how the resulting aesthetic can be utilised to meaningfully disrupt the negativity surrounding failure and self-doubt and help us think of alternate ways of being and knowing that stand outside our conventional understanding of success. Atkins is a Queensland College of Art graduate (BFA with Honours (Class I)) and has exhibited widely in Queensland, as well as interstate (Sydney, Hobart) and internationally (Utrecht, Netherlands). She is co-director of Wreckers Artspace in Brisbane, and upcoming artist in Residence at Kaus Australis, Rotterdam (Jan-Mar 2018).

JANIS CLARKE is an emerging artist living and working in Sydney. He has completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts (2015) and a Master of Fine Art (2017) at the National Art School. Clarke has a profound interest in the critique of painting in contemporary art. He consciously undermines established norms (both personal and historical) and to this end, he embraces failure and the anti-aesthetic sensibility as strategies for moving painting forward to somewhere new. He does this through the use of anti-authorial gestures, the kitsch of craft, and by embracing the use of so called ‘low’ colours, materials and processes such as fluorescents, spray paint, collage and decoupage. By employing counter-intuitive methods (such as ‘wrong’ instead of ‘right’) Clarke tries to undermine his own ingrained stylistic tendencies to create something unanticipated. Situated somewhere between painting, craft and sculpture, these abject principles are applied to the installation, presentation and construction of each work. Since 2015 Clarke has held three solo exhibitions and has been selected as a finalist in major prizes including the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize (2016, 2015), The Mosman Art Prize (2016, 2015), The Chippendale New World Art Prize (2015 - Winner People’s Choice Award) and the Rick Amor Drawing Prize (2016).

RICKY LARRY is a Brisbane based artist who completed a Bachelor of Fine Art (2014) at Queensland College Of Art. Since graduating from Queensland College of Art in 2014 Ricky has held two solo exhibitions and been selected for several group shows including 'Shifting Grounds’ at The Hold Gallery, West End. Larry’s art practice examines the nature of perception in relation to space, environment and form through the use of photography, video and installation. Utilising materials to challenge a logical thought process, illusions are introduced in an attempt to fracture the viewer’s go-to mode of rationality. Incorporating ‘objects’ into familiar environments to generate a “questionable image”, forces the audience to draw conclusions as they make sense of the works.

SOPHIE PENKETHMAN-YOUNG is a video and new media artist whose work explores the telling of histories through objects, museum culture and their intersection with the digital age. She examines the equalising nature of platforms such as youtube, where the BBC, Metropolitan Museum and NASA have uploaded vast archives, that now sit in the same context as beauty bloggers and school pranks. Sophie graduated from the University of Sydney College of the Arts with Honours in 2014. She is currently studying her Masters in art curatorship. Day to day, Sophie works part time in marketing at Carriageworks, does Ikebana and adDs to her archive of NASA footage and old national geographic magazines.  

MELISSA SPRATT is an emerging artist who lives and works on the Gold Coast. Melissa studied at the Queensland College of Art, Gold Coast, where she completed a Bachelor of Digital Media with Honours, majoring in Fine Art in 2015, including an exchange at the Leeds International Summer School at the University of Leeds, UK. Spratt has worked across various mediums including painting, photography, drawing and printmaking, more recently exploring textile and design elements in sculpture, and working closely with different yarn making and finger-knitting techniques. Spratt was the winner of the RADFLY Youth Art Prize in 2017, finalist in the Border Art Prize at Tweed Regional Gallery in 2016, and was invited to hold a self titled solo exhibition at The Arts Centre Gold Coast in 2015. Her most recent installation works explore landscapes, ecosystems and patterns found in plant anatomy.

VEOPLE is a collaboration between Gold Coast-based artist JAY JERMYN and local musician JULIAN CURRIE, and is best described as a place where analogue meets machine. The collaboration strives to create atmospheric journeys full of energy and enigma that demand attention and captivate crowds. Jermyn solo practice communicates the weight and importance of social acceptance through an interweaving of creative expressions including design, sound and visual art. Jermyn studied Art and Design at Griffith University on the Gold Coast where he developed a multi-disciplinary practice that seeks to confront cultural divisions, both geographical and metaphorical. His practice is influenced by journeys through Japan and Eastern Europe, and is defined by an ongoing quest to locate enigmatic identities and emotions; both of which emerge as abstract and ambiguous forms in his work.

Art on Bundjalung Country


Art on Bundjalung Country opens tonight at Lismore Regional Gallery.


Increasingly, creativity is being seen as a major indicator in increasing people’s health and wellbeing. Art on Bundjalung Country is a major partnership between the Gallery, Arts Northern Rivers, North Coast Primary Health Network, Bulgarr Ngaru Aboriginal Medical Corporation and University Centre for Rural Health to stimulate artistic practice for emerging Aboriginal artists to enhance their social, economic and health outcomes. This partnership is advised by a committed steering group of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal arts and health professionals.

Throughout 2017, a series of workshops have been held across the region by established Aboriginal artists including Penny Evans, Gilbert Laurie, Francis Belle-Parker, Michael Philp, Cherie Leon and Robin Davis to pass on their creative skills to a wide range of emerging Aboriginal artists. The result will be an exhibition acknowledging the depth of current practice in the region, and celebrating the next crop of up and coming Aboriginal artists working in Bundjalung country.

Friday, December 8, 2017 at 5.30pm (for 6.00pm speeches)

To be opened by Dr Vahid Saberi, Chief Executive Officer, North Coast Primary Health Network.

Speeches will be followed by a performance by the Nini Nahri-Gali dance Troupe.