Enjoy a long weekend…

For those around Australia with a public holiday on 10 June, we hope you enjoy a long weekend. We look forward to welcoming you to the Gallery from Tuesday 11 to view our current exhibition of paintings by John Dent, showing until the end of June.

With his wide variety of interests, significant mentors and travel experiences, especially time spent in France, Dent has built a successful art career over the past 50 years and is always looking and always learning. Some of his paintings bear a clearer influence of a particular artist or movement, perhaps Baldessin here or Bonnard there, but each work is distinctly Dent.

Preview artworks on our website

Download the e-catalogue

Watch the video of the exhibition opening with remarks by Peter Perry OAM, former Director of the Castlemaine Art Gallery and currently working on a publication of John Dent’s art.

JOHN DENT Table Setting
JOHN DENT Table Setting

Congratulations to Elizabeth – Finalist, Hadleys Art Prize

We are pleased to advise that Elizabeth Kunoth Kngwarray has been selected as a finalist in this years Hadleys Art Prize, showing at Hadleys Hotel, Hobart 3 – 25 August.

Elizabeth’s painting depicts the leaf, seed and flower of the bush yam, a tuber plant which is an important source of food and medicine. Elizabeth uses thousands of tiny flicks of colour to show the wind moving through the yam plant, producing a beautiful and captivating sense of movement as the coloured marks undulate across the canvas. Elizabeth Kunoth Kngwarray is from Utopia, N.T. following in the footsteps of the celebrated family tradition of painting.

Congratulations to Elizabeth and Genevieve : Ravenswood Finalists

Congratulations to Elizabeth Kunoth Kngwarray and Genevieve Kemarr Loy who have both been selected as finalists in this year’s Ravenswood Australian Women Artists’ Art Prize which will be showing at Ravenswood School for Girls, Gordon NSW from 10 – 26 May with their paintings Yam Seeds in My Country (Elizabeth) and Bush Turkey Story (Genevieve).  117 finalists were announced from 1616 entries received for the 2024 Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize.

Elizabeth and Genevieve are both from the Utopia region in Central Australia, building on the legacy of Emily Kam Kngwarray with their intricate paintings depicting the flora and fauna of their country. Elizabeth depicts the seeds, flowers and leaves of the yam, an important source of food and medicine and Genevieve paints the Bush Turkey, which she has inherited from her father. There is a beautiful sense of patterning and movement through their artwork which is imbued with cultural significance.

Genevieve Kemarr Loy 1982 – (Anmatyerr)

Bush Turkey Story 2023 synthetic polymer on linen 120 x 120 cm

223005 KNGWARRAY Elizabeth Kunoth YamSeeds

Elizabeth Kunoth Kngwarray 1961 – (Anmatyerr)

Yam Seeds in My Country 2023 synthetic polymer on linen 120 x 120 cm

For further information: https://www.ravenswoodartprize.com.au/

A Closer Look At… Pastels

Two Australian artists who were acclaimed for their pastel technique are Janet Cumbrae Stewart and Florence Rodway. We are pleased to currently have eye-catching works by each of these artists, allowing us to to Take A Closer Look At… their mastery of pastel.

Florence Rodway established a significant reputation, particularly in her favoured medium of pastel and was sought after for portrait commissions from both institutions and private clients, including Dame Nellie Melba; J. F. Archibald (her portrait being a finalist in the inaugural Archibald prize); Julian Ashton and Henry Lawson.

In Rodway’s Portrait, we are intrigued by the modern woman meeting the viewer’s gaze, in the manner of Preston’s Flapper (1925, collection of the National Gallery of Australia) and Hilda Rix Nicholas’ Une Australienne (1926, collection of the National Gallery of Australia). Rodway has presented her sitter front on and with a great degree of directness with a focus on the face, the background seeming to support and highlight the figure and at the same time, simply melt away. Her outfit transports us to another era. Rodway uses bold, broken, parallel, vigorous linear strokes and strong colour focus. There is a sense of dynamism and we feel the presence of the sitter.

Janet Cumbrae Stewart’s work comprised portraits, landscapes, and still lifes, particularly flower studies however she is most well known for depicting the female nude in pastel. These works were not driven by a narrative focus, rather the sensuous and gracefulness of the figure with a focus on colour and texture.

In The Old Shawl we see a device favoured by Cumbrae Stewart, with a shawl draped over the model’s shoulder, providing a contrast between the richly coloured material and the soft flesh tones, offset by the model’s dark hair. With her head turned to the right, allowing for a tension in the pose where the left shoulder, right elbow and the gentle profile are highlighted.

Janet Cumbrae Stewart’s artwork is today viewed through a lens acknowledging her lesbian sexual preferences, providing another layer of intimacy to her celebration of the female form.

In each of these artworks, the delicacy of the pastel medium is matched with a vigour in the strokes on the paper and pastel lends itself to capturing both luminous skin tones contrasted against bold blue and red in the Cumbrae Stewart and velvety black in the Rodway. The sketchy nature of the background in each accentuates the figure.

To Take A Closer Look At… the pastels of Florence Rodway and Janet Cumbrae Stewart please click here.

Helen Tiernan at Artspace Box Hill

TIERNAN, Woi Wurrung Ancient Bark Canoe, 222058, 40x30cm - NBP_R copy
HELEN TIERNAN Woi Wurrung Ancient Bark Canoe oil on canvas 40 x 30 cm

Visit the Connections exhibition to view Helen Tiernan’s fascinating paintings.

Tiernan’s landscapes blend elements from European and Indigenous artistic traditions, signifying the rich tapestry of her mixed cultural connections. They invite viewers to contemplate the interconnectedness of humanity and nature and are displayed alongside artworks by First Nations artists from the Whitehorse art collection.

Connections showing at Artspace Box Hill until 12 August.

View further works by Helen Tiernan on our website or Contact us for details about new works to the Gallery.

Helen Tiernan Colonial Cattle series #3 2023 oil on canvas 66 x 45.5 cm (oval)

Vale John Olsen

The art world is saddened by the death of John Olsen AO OBE (1928 – 2023) who died on Tuesday 11 April aged 95. He will long be celebrated as a creative visionary, particularly for his unique, poetic and often whimsical depictions of the Australian landscape in paintings and works on paper. Winner of the Wynne (1969, 1985) Sulman (1989) and Archibald (2005) art prizes, John enjoyed a successful career over 60 years, with his work represented in numerous major collections in Australia and internationally and he continued his artistic calling to the end.

Read further about his career on our Artist Biography page

We were fortunate to hear John share his thoughts on landscape painting at the opening of Jeff Makin’s exhibition at Lauraine Diggins Fine Art back in 2001 and share these with you now:

“It’s wonderful to be in Melbourne again. I seldom get to Melbourne these days. I’ve got lots of really strong and powerful memories for Melbourne and it really comes, interestingly enough, in connection with the Australian landscape.

Whilst I had predilictions, like going through an abstract period, when I was quite young and very immature basically, but my idea of abstraction was really that at the end there was going to be another kind of figuration that would be quite different from say the influence, the very strong influence of Picasso or even Matisse at the time.

I found myself in Melbourne and I was a friend of Clifton Pugh and Fred Williams and Albert Tucker, and we had this wonderful notion which really liberated me – that we would make the Australian landscape the open studio. It sort of figured like this, it wasn’t a case of just copying what was in front of us but somehow to gather an ethos, a kind of a mystical thing that emanates from the Australian landscape. This I can point back, and it is a very very interesting question that puzzles me enormously – for all forty thousand, fifty thousand, we don’t really know how long, the concentration in Aboriginal art is always centrally based on the landscape.

It really comes down to what I think is a very interesting line from T.S. Eliot – I am in the landscape and the landscape is in me. The thrust of a remark like that comes really from that it’s beyond trees, it’s beyond rocks, it belongs perhaps say to the principle of yin and yang, as Chinese art or Japanese art would look at it.

And then the other thing that is an interesting factor, is the Australian landscape seems to reveal itself in its stronger manner when viewed slightly from the air. I think that that is really to do with the sheer vastness of it. I mean, anyone who’s flown over, when you’ve been in Europe for a period of time, and you’re lucky enough just in the very early morning and the sun is rising over Australia and you’re coming perhaps over Broome and you’re going to go perhaps over Lake Eyre if you’re lucky – it’s wonderful, wonderful.

It’s this kind of thing that I think that even though Australian’s pullulate on the edges, albeit called Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, etc., that somehow that the vastness of the continent lies like a huge unconscious collective mind.

 This kind of thing as I’m describing it presents an entirely different way, a different feeling to any other landscape that I have experienced or previously known.  I’ve flown over Siberia, only from the air of course, that’s an oxymoron if ever I heard one! It is that kind of thing, and I have noticed. I don’t really know whether it’s to do with global village philosophy or the internet or those kind of things, but there seems to be a great turning away from that great mass of the song of the earth.

Jeff is one of those people who have been doggedly passionate about this very subject for a long long period of time. In actual fact, the awkwardness reminds me something of those early Cezannes. That awkwardness that you see in Cezanne which  was scorned at in the early part of his career by Monet and Pissaro but they had a faith in him – why is it stumbling like this. It was to do with, to introduce a new ethic of structure into the French landscape. Looking at this, – where’s that lovely picture, yes it’s a lovely lovely picture and I happen to know where it is painted, and the implication and the definition of edge in it is very very strong. I have a notion that this is a turning point in Jeff’s career – a new kind of strength in an art which if one is distinct in contemporary terms is pretty god awful. It’s the lonely path and he’s done that. It’s a lot of credit that he could stand the loneliness of the long silent song.

 I do not know what I prefer: the beauty of inflection or the beauty of innuendo – the blackbird singing or the thought afterwards, Wallace Stevens. It is that form of reverberation, and I think that you can perhaps see what I am getting at. It’s not the trees, it’s not the leaves, it represents a total experience.”

John Olsen, 2001

Congratulations Genevieve Kemarr Loy

Congratulations to Genevieve who is a finalist in this year’s Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize. In 2023, the Prize received a record-breaking 2,042 entries. The Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize now receives 2.5 times more entries than the Archibald Prize. Opening night is Friday 12 May with the exhibition showing at Ravenswood School for Girls, Gordon NSW from 13 – 28 May 2023.

Please contact us for available paintings by Genevieve or view a selection on our website

To read further about the prize: https://www.ravenswoodartprize.com.au/artprize/home

Vale Cowboy Loy Pwerl

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised this post includes the name of a person who has died.

It is with great sadness that we pay our respects to senior elder Cowboy Loy Pwerl who died Wednesday 30 March in Alice Springs hospital. Cowboy was a leader within the painting movement at Utopia with his intricate designs often depicting the nesting place of the bush turkey. Cowboy was a senior custodian of a series of Dreaming sites in Utopia, on the western side of the Sandover River. He was an Eastern Anmatyerr speaker who lived his life on country, mostly at Iylenty, and acquired his nickname from his days as a stockman. In his paintings, Cowboy delighted in a strong use of harmonious colour, moving away from more subdued ochres of earlier works, whilst maintaining his signature optical illusional style. On a simple level, the geometric patterning laid out across the canvas in tiny coloured dots, represents the bush turkey as it searches for seeds to eat.

Our thoughts are with Cowboy’s family, particularly Carol, Elizabeth and Genevieve.

Cowboy is represented in the National Gallery of Victoria; the Art Gallery of South Australia; the Melbourne Museum; Benalla Art Gallery; and numerous private collections across Australia and internationally.

Cowboy Loy Pwerl

Celebrating International Women’s Day

It is fortuitous timing that our exhibition of paintings and works on paper by Constance Stokes coincides with International Women’s Day, celebrated on 8 March. Constance Stokes’ life represents the myriad issues facing female artists, particularly pursuing an active career as a professional artist whilst also supporting a family and fitting with societal expectations of the time. Constance Parkins was a talented and dedicated student who travelled overseas to further her artistic studies. Following classes at the Gallery School at the National Gallery of Victoria under Bernard Hall, she was awarded the Travelling Scholarship in 1929 which enabled her to continue her studies at the Royal Academy in London and in Paris in the summer of 1931 with Andre Lhote who was to have a profound influence on her. Her success as an artist was recognised with numerous exhibitions and her inclusion in the Twelve Australian Artists exhibition at Burlington Galleries, London in 1953 and at the 1953 Venice Biennale. Constance married Eric Stokes in 1933 and between 1937 and 1942 they had three children. Constance Stokes is on record as describing the difficulties of combining her career and motherhood, even with a supportive husband, admitting that each impacted the other.

Eric’s early death in 1962 forced a greater impetus to maintain her career and Stokes continued with successful exhibitions. Her paintings of women are particularly prized, their warmth and intimacy matched with bold use of colour. Her works on paper, mostly depicting women, highlight her drawing skill and lyrical line.

As Dr Juliette Peers noted in the catalogue essay for our exhibition:

“For Stokes, as recounted in interviews, the driving factors of her art were her imagination, her sense of design, and, increasingly at the end of her career, revisiting and reinterpreting her own previous works and studies. “Actually, most of my paintings are from imagination or memory.“[i] Women stand at the centre of her imagery, as she said “the woman takes first place”.[ii] Many of the works in this present collection reflect her preference for portraying women. Her female studies became particularly important during the later phase of her career, when she, in effect, rebuilt her practice and her confidence after the early death of her husband in 1962. At this date Stokes faced a very different and not always congenial artistic, social and political world to the one in which she first found fame. Her response to these changing times and practices was to heighten her colour and simplify her compositions. “ Juliette Peers, Constance Stokes 1906 – 1991, catalogue essay for Lauraine Diggins Fine Art exhibition, 2021

It is fitting on International Women’s Day that we recognise the talents of Constance Stokes, as a woman, as well as celebrate her depictions of women.

Constance Stokes Woman in Patterned Robe
Constance Stokes Woman in Patterned Robe

Learn more about Constance Stokes on our exhibition page where you can enjoy viewing the artworks, accessing the catalogue with essay by Dr Juliette Peers and listen to Dr Gerard Vaughan discussing the exhibition and Constance Stokes oeuvre. The exhibition is showing until 31 March 2022.

Jessie Scarvell

The S.H. Ervin Gallery in Sydney recently posted this video with Director Jane Watters highlighting their holdings of artworks by Jessie Scarvell, which were gifted by her daughter. Scarvell (1862 – 1950) was an exponent of Australian Impressionism who exhibited over 60 of her plein air landscapes at the Art Society of NSW throughout the 1890s. Following her marriage in 1901, she moved to a cattle station in Queensland and focussed on her gardening rather than pursuing an artistic career. Scarvell was included in the Exhibition of Australian Art in London in 1898. Her paintings are characterised by a harmonious use of colour and painterly marks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjXgGPgC8ig

Jessie Scarvell Glenalvon Murrurundi 1895
Jessie Scarvell Glenalvon Murrurundi 1895

Read further about Jessie Scarvell