Why are you opening a gallery?
It’s a very simple premise. Galleries connect people to art. A painter is always trying to make that connection – to communicate. After many years exhibiting in other people’s spaces – commercial galleries, state regional galleries, curated exhibitions, I want now to speak directly to my viewers. It’s an old model – the artist-gallery, so I am not inventing anything new. Turner and Rembrandt found it the best model. It allows the artist to present the work, without the intermediary of other people’s agendas. The gallery will show my current work and will present guest artists and events.
You mention agendas. What do you mean by that?
A common way of displaying art is by theme. A curator will call for entries on a particular topic. This makes sense if you are creating an exhibition from a wide range of artists’ work and want some sense of coherence. It doesn’t address how an individual artist is responding to the world in a broader sense. If you look at any retrospective of an artist’s work themes specific to the artist appear. I find these much more interesting. I hope visitors will experience that in my gallery.
A strong theme in your work is the landscapes of Melbourne. What inspires you about the city?
Landscape painting continues to make sense in Australia as we are so intimately connected with the landscape in our daily lives. Its mercurial nature means we have to keep a wary eye on it, and yet at the same time it’s entrancing, beguiling. You don’t dare turn your back on nature in Australia. You stay tuned. And then there is the vastness of it. Tim Winton puts it eloquently in Island Home:
Space was my primary inheritance. I was formed by gaps…I’m part of a thin and porous human culture through which the land slants in, seen or felt, at every angle…And over it all an impossibly open sky, dwarfing everything.
Melbourne in particular is my playground perhaps because I feel it has grown up with me, and it continues to change so rapidly. I grew up in the (then) outer suburb of Templestowe. It was a tangle of orchards mixed with the rubble of new housing. The landscape of the Heidelberg school was all around me, but seared with new asphalt and industry. I hated to see it converted to suburbia. Reading Robin Boyd’s The Australian Ugliness many years later, he voiced my childhood anguish in a much more sophisticated way. But somehow those triple fronted brick veneers and pseudo-Greek mansions got under my skin. I find compositions now in that mixture of the jumble of urban life making some sort of compromise with nature. It’s important to me as that is how we live here in this place and it is constantly changing. Art needs to make sense of that, of how we connect our lives to our places.
Tell me about the space.
I am very fortunate to be opening this gallery in a superb heritage listed house in Kew. The house is built in the grand style found in some of Melbourne’s oldest suburbs. Its history is interesting; it was built around 1900 and has been in the same family for almost 100 years. It is so large that for most of the last century up to three generations of the one family have lived there at any time. Currently two generations occupy the house, but this still leaves room for the gallery, my studio and printmaking facilities. I came to live there in 1993, with my husband and children, joining other family; his grandparents purchased the property in the 1920’s. The double front rooms which make up the gallery have hosted many events. Max Walker and Dean Jones sat for me for their portraits there, when I was working on the Melbourne Cricket Club’s ‘Team of the Century’ commission. Those rooms would have hosted many a political gathering too as it was the home of Wilfred Kent-Hughes MP.
Where can I find out about what’s coming up?
Join my VIP list to stay up to date.
When is the gallery opening?
The opening has been postponed due to the pandemic. We will open as soon as we can. You can stay in touch by email – just join via the VIP list link above.