Artist Interview: 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.

CUBE to exhibit Noel Hart glass works

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

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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.

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.

Artists

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
 

Location

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

BSA PROJECT SPACE
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


Apollo

AMAC
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.
 

NORTHERN RIVERS CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC
Downstairs Studio, 152 Keen Street, Lismore
Thursday 12pm - 3pm | Friday 10am - 8pm
Saturday 10am - 8pm | Sunday 10am - 3pm

Art Piece Gallery's Inaugural 30x30 Art Prize Winners Revealed

Saturday evening revealed the (joint!) Winners of the inaugural Art Piece Gallery 30x30 Art Prize: Kat Shapiro Wood, and Vanessa Stockhard.

The $6000 prize will be divided between the two artists. As expected, a huge crowd turned out to witness the announcement. The previous day, judges Susi Muddiman OAM and artist Amanda Penrose Hart, winner of the 2017 Gallipoli art prize had considered all 230 pieces, and after much deliberation, decided to equally divide the First Prize between two artists. The exhibition of finalists will be on view at the gallery until January 22 2018.

The Winners:

Joint First Prize

Kat Shapiro Wood  Hover, encaustic on board, 30 x 30 cm

Kat Shapiro Wood
Hover, encaustic on board, 30 x 30 cm

Other awards:


Best Still Life in Show
Nick Coulson
Still Life with Jug, Hallway and Windows I
acrylic and graphite on board
30 x 30 cm

Highly Commended Awards
Gaia Barnatan
Head in the clouds
photocollage
30 x 30 cm(framed)

Clare Purser
Fassifern Valley III
oil and mixed media on board,
30 x 30 cm(framed)

Gaia Barnatan,  Head in the clouds

Gaia Barnatan, Head in the clouds

People's Choice Award
Kindly sponsored by The Mullumbimby Chamber of Commerce
This is a newly added prize of $500.00 and is only available
by voting in person, at the gallery.

This new, national, non-acquisitive prize is for a 2D work of art in any medium measuring 30x 30 cm.

Vanessa Stockard  Pleasure and Pain, acrylic on board 30 x 30 cm (framed)

Vanessa Stockard
Pleasure and Pain, acrylic on board
30 x 30 cm (framed)

Nick Coulson  Still Life with Jug, Hallway and Windows I

Nick Coulson
Still Life with Jug, Hallway and Windows I

Clare Purser ,  Fassifern Valley III

Clare Purser, Fassifern Valley III

Art in the Pub: Annique Goldenberg's Arctic Residency

Join us Monday 27th November for the last Art in the Pub for 2017

 

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Chandeliers and other Ocean Ornaments

Chandeliers and other Ocean Ornaments is a group show with new work by Sabine Bosche, Lisa Black, Zimmi Forest and Megan Puls at Art Piece Gallery.

Join us for the opening party: Friday, November 3 at 6-8pm

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Art Piece Gallery

70 Burringbar Street, Mullumbimby

 

Byron School of Art's Visual Arts Foundation Course: Applications closing soon

Applications for BSA's first-year course on Visual Arts Foundation will be closing on October 21. If you've been thinking about learning how to take your practice to the next level, here is your chance.

BSA Visual Arts Foundation is a one-year course providing an extensive grounding in the Visual Arts. This is a structured studio program incorporating drawing, painting, printmaking, 3d studies, design principles, colour theory, art history and creative thinking. The course is designed to help you acquire the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to form an integrated understanding of contemporary ideas and practices. This course will introduce researching tools for those wishing to follow up with VAP and VARP. Whether you are starting out, or you are a more experienced artist needing to develop your skills and art practice, this course provides a solid foundation. The primary focus of all our teaching is on the individual.    

VISUAL ARTS FOUNDATION (First Year)

(FYVA) One Year Course  

30 weeks, Two days per week: Tuesdays & Wednesdays 10:00am – 3:00pm

LOCATION | BSA Building, 112 Dalley Street, Mullumbimby     

DATES |  February 2018 -  November 2018

Term 1 | 27 February – 11 April, 7 weeks  (3 week Vacation)  

Term 2 | 8 May –  4 July, 9 weeks  (3 week Vacation)

Term 3 | 31 July – 19 September, 8 weeks  (3 week Vacation) 

Term 4 | 15 October – 21 November, 6 weeks          

A flexible course structure makes it possible to work with each student and be specific about their requirements and artistic development. All our teachers are experienced educators with nationally recognised art practices. Course activities include studio work, field trips, gallery visits, guest lecturers and group exhibitions.

Note: Students who complete the Foundation year are then eligible for the Visual Arts Practice course.    

Total Cost for the year is $4565 (incl. GST). If students pay in full before 3rd February 2018 course fee will be discounted to $4300 (incl. GST). 

To secure a place in the course, students must sign up for the whole year. (If due to any unforeseen circumstances the course does not run, all monies will be refunded.)

To apply for the Visual Arts Foundation Course please complete the Application Form below.  All information and details within this form will be treated confidentially.  BSA staff will contact you to arrange a time to meet to discuss your application and to answer any questions you may have about the course. 

If you have any further questions please contact us at admin@byronschoolofart.com or phone 0487 362 141