Category Archives: Art

Reflections of autumn in Glen Innes highlands

A JOINT exhibition of paintings and leadlight panels by two longstanding Glen Innes artists is set to open in March.

LIGHT & SHADOW ‘Morning Light Wattle Bend’ by Tanya Robertson-Cuninghame

Painter Tanya Robertson-Cuninghame and leadlighter Greville Wilton are creative icons of the New England region, and their new show ‘On Reflection’ is at The Makers Shed, Glen Innes, throughout autumn.

“The theme of this body of work is based on light, water and reflections,” Robertson-Cuninghame said. 

“It has culminated from my recent experience of environmental issues, which include drought and bushfires.

“I have chosen compositions that have a calming effect on me and hopefully also the viewer.”

According to Robertson-Cuninghame, this collection of her landscapes and seascapes is an attempt to convey a sense of solitude and tranquility in the natural environment, where the viewer has the desire to pause, look and ponder at the beauty of nature. 

“A view when one doesn’t have a view,” she said.

Robertson-Cuninghame has a strong connection to Glen Innes region reaching back to 1839 when her ancestors settled on “Wellington Vale”, Deepwater.

Born at Glen Innes, she attended Emmaville Central for primary before secondary and tertiary schooling in Sydney. She gained a Fine Arts Certificate at East Sydney Technical College in 1981, majoring in oil painting. 

LOCAL REFLECTIONS ‘Big Hole Severn River’ by Tanya Robertson-Cuninghame

Citing 16th century European and 19th and 20th century Australian Artists and practices, Robertson-Cuninghame’s creative process includes handmade canvas preparation and oil-paint making.

The works in ‘On Reflection’ include paintings featuring local waterways, including Pyes Creek and the Severn River, captured as the drought broke, restoring life-giving water to the region. 

Robertson-Cuninghame has also completed a series of seascapes on the Mid North Coast and Northern Rivers regions that illustrate the interplay of light and water in reflection.

Enduring collaboration

Over the past three decades, Robertson-Cuninghame has designed leadlight panels for Greville Wilton featuring in commissions and an exhibition of their work at Maitland Regional Art Gallery in 2013.

Wilton was born in rural New South Wales and moved to Sydney where he completed his education and began his working life in retail.

“Regular visits to family properties over this period consolidated my belief that city life was not for me,” he said. 

“I then travelled extensively through Europe and Asia where my appreciation of handmade crafts was ignited. 

CAPTIVE COLOUR ‘Green & Orange’ by Greville Wilton

“On my return to Australia I moved to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains and established a craft supply and gallery business.

“While in Katoomba, I tried my hand at several different crafts before attending a community college course in leadlighting and my life course was set.”

Wilton purchased land near Glen Innes on the Northern Tablelands four decades ago, describing it as a region of largely unspoiled nature, abundant wildlife and clearly-defined seasons.

“I moved my studio several times in Glen Innes before taking over the Butter Factory and creating a gallery and workshops that exhibited contemporary art and was a venue for many local and travelling musicians,” he said.

“My collaboration with Tanya Robertson-Cuninghame over the past thirty years is enduring.

“Our current show at The Makers Shed is a mix of panels designed by Tanya, and others influenced by the Art Deco movement, particularly Frank Lloyd Wright.

“The interaction of light with the colours and textures of glass is ever changing and a constant fascination.

“As we move into the 21st century I fear that many of the skills associated with traditional crafts will be lost, as technology overwhelms us and it becomes more difficult to earn an income through the arts. Computers can’t make leadlights… yet!” Wilton said.

On Reflection opens at The Makers Shed, 123 Grey Street Glen Innes on Saturday March 6 at 4pm, and runs until the end of May. A selection of works is available to view and buy online www.themakersshed.org

‘Solstice’ shines a new light on summer

“In this exhibition I hope to share a lighthearted and fresh perspective on the familiar.” 
Cecilia Smith

A TRIO of painters feature in the latest exhibition at New England’s arts marketplace The Makers Shed, Glen Innes. Showing until the end of January, 2021, ‘Solstice’ includes new works by Peter Champion, Marianne la Cour and Cecilia Smith, offering a range of styles and genres to art lovers across the region.

Inverell’s Peter Champion is an award-winning New England landscape painter and his return to Glen Innes is a welcome one, considering his popular exhibition at the town’s gallery was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peter confesses to be obsessed with capturing the elements at work in the range of land- and sea-scapes completed for ‘Solstice’, including ‘Moonrise’ (pictured above).

“My interests often are to do with the effects of light, the time of day, the season and also the effect of the wind particularly on water,” he said.

“The works in this exhibition are all oil on canvas and reflect what I see that makes me take notice, the many variables that occur.

“Then my approaches can be somewhat different, although I do tend to use broken colour to relate the actual atmosphere to the paintings.”

Belonging

MAKING MARKS: ‘Looking East I’ (acrylic on canvas by Marianne la Cour)

Glen Innes-based artist Marianne la Cour was inspired by the New England highlands in the series of watercolours and mixed-media works she is exhibiting in ‘Solstice’, painted during this challenging year of extremes.

“The aftermath of the bushfires and drought is still etched into my mind,” she said.

“Every morning when I look out at all the greenness of the present landscape, I reflect and try to understand. My practice is about place – a sense of place, a connection to place and the feeling of belonging to a place. 

“As a painter, I work by mark making, using movement and form and by layering of colour. I quite often incorporate texture into my paintings, and often paint a canvas over and over again. 

“I love colours and I create colour combinations as reference to places and emotions.”

Domestic twist

FRIDGE FAMILIAR: ‘Tree of Life’ (oil on canvas by Cecilia Smith)

Central Coast-based artist Cecilia Smith travelled to the New England region this year in search of her family’s origins around Kelly’s Plains and Tenterfield. ‘Solstice’ marks her group show debut after painting portraits and landscapes. For this exhibition she has illustrated a series of domestic scenes with a twist.

“My recent work reflects the interest I have in the relationship that exists between humans and their environment on a domestic level,” she said. 

“In particular, I am fascinated by the dependency we have on the myriad items in our homes, and the membrane that seems to inevitably grow over one’s consciousness in our perception of these. 

“The irony is, that without all of this ‘stuff’ which forms such a huge part of our lives – from basics like fresh food, to common household objects – we would suffer and perhaps feel a momentously primitive insecurity. 

“The problem of plastic is growing, and it slips under our personal radars on a daily basis. In this exhibition I hope to share a lighthearted and fresh perspective on the familiar.”

Solstice: new works by Peter Champion, Marianne la Cour and Cecilia Smith, showing at The Makers Shed, 123 Grey Street Glen Innes, Wednesdays to Saturdays until January 30, 2021. Selected works also available for purchase online.

Perseverance key to Powell’s pottery

THE natural environment of the New England region, and the mindfulness of daily work in the clay studio during the COVID-19 pandemic, were influential in a collection of new ceramic work by artist Max Powell of Glen Innes.

The exhibition ‘FormWork’ will fill The Makers Shed with an array of pieces throughout spring.

According to Max, daily practice and perseverance were key to this prolific period of creativity.

CERAMIC CURVES: New works by Glen Innes potter Max Powell

“I came to ceramics through art making and fell in love with the endless possibilities of this elemental and enduring material,” he says.

“There is always the element of the unexpected and surprise that keeps me asking ‘what next?’ Clay has become an obsession and a daily necessity as I explore different pathways and grow ideas.

“Spending time in the workshop honing skills and focusing on the evolving processes keeps me in the moment engaging body and mind in a holistic way that has kept me anchored through these turbulent times. 

“The perseverance we need today is a basic tool for the potter.”

Inspiration also comes from spending time in the bush observing the shapes, colours and surfaces found in nature, Max says.

“As well as the making processes involved in transforming this most basic elemental plastic material into expressive form.

“I like the end product to reveal the honesty of the materials by leaving some exposed clay body on show, along with the effects created by the alchemy of multiply firings building up different glaze layers.”

A range of large ‘water bowls’ that can be used outdoors as bird baths, and a selection of vases and platters will be on offer, but also a range of large-scale works that will form a unique centrepiece to any indoor design.

“Besides producing useful objects, clay can sometimes result in ceramic work that can satisfy not only the maker but also engages others and adds richness to their daily rituals,” Max says.

FINE FORM: Max Powell’s new exhibition runs until November 28 at Glen Innes

Beyond the surface

A graduate of the National Arts School, East Sydney Technical College, and Monash University, Max Powell came to ceramics through the art of glazing.

“Painting the surface has always been my focus and with these new works I have tried to develop stronger forms that compliment the surface but still make their own statement,” he says.

A Glen Innes-based secondary and TAFE art teacher, he has a longstanding reputation for high standards of artistic practice in the region.

“I love the sense of community,” he says, “and the open landscape that lets you escape to the nearby majestic national parks. I love the seasonal changes that shape our lives”.

“Inspiration is everywhere: moss, lichen, a rock, a piece of wood, the landscape and the rich history of ceramics and the many stories that get mixed into the clay.”

Powell cites artists like Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Lloyd Rees, Elizabeth Cummings and Angus Nivison as influences throughout his career, which started in arts education but quickly moved on to public art commissions and exhibitions throughout the New England region.

“I feel privileged that I have been able to spend my time making art, responding to the world around and engaging with like-minded people,” he says.

FormWork runs until November 28 at The Makers Shed, 123 Grey Street Glen Innes