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.

(Another) year of independent reading

WHILE the world has been distracted by a pressing pandemic, a small group of readers in the northern NSW New England region committed to reading and discussing a range of independently-published books, and now they’re getting ready to announce the pick of the crop.

Trophy handmade by Richard Moon

This is the second year the High Country Book Club based in Glen Innes has awarded a literary prize. Across 2019 we read a broad range of titles published by readers in three continents and gave our first gong to Lady Bird & The Fox by Australian author Kim Kelly.

In 2020, our pool of choices was extended from indie authors to the publications produced by independent presses, those that don’t have huge marketing machines behind them and could do with a boost. Since we’re based at The Makers Shed, a destination for handmade, skill-sharing and artisanal products, our focus on indie titles is apt.

Our reading year kicked off with Jo-Ann Capp’s Four Hot Chips (published by Boogie Books). The true story of one family’s childhood cancer journey, this is a heartbreaking and ultimately uplifting short read, exploring relationship dynamics when loved ones are under pressure.

We continued with The Worst Country in the World by London-based Patsy Trench, which documents the author’s search for the reasons her ancestress Mary Pitt migrated from Dorset to New South Wales in 1801. Replete with fictionalised scenes where history remains undiscovered, this book is an eye-opener about colonial Australia.

In Hide (published by MidnightSun) we ventured into fiction. Penned by South Australian author S. J. Morgan, this thriller took us on a wild journey from Thatcher’s Britain to the Australian outback, via a chilling look into international bikie culture.

Staying with fiction, we read Kim Kelly’s Walking. Partly based on true events, this novel explores the world of orthopaedic surgery in the first half of the 20th century, through the eyes and experiences of patients, practitioners and their loves, lives and hopes.

You Had Me At Hola by Leigh Robshaw took us on a true-life South American odyssey, recreating the author’s 1990s adventures to find her heart’s desire in foreign lands. Scenes from this title are still regularly talked about in book club meetings months later!

We were visited by Yumna Kassab to kick off the second annual High Country Writers Festival with a discussion about her short fiction debut The House of Youssef (published by Giramondo). This acclaimed collection sheds light on lives in the Lebanese-Australian community.

Mary Garden’s Sundowner of the Skies (published by New Holland) was an external and internal adventure, documenting the 1920s England-to-Australia flight of Mary’s father Oscar Garden, and exploring what high achievers do when they give up their wings.

To complete the year, we read Hayley Katzen’s debut memoir Untethered (published by Ventura Press) and were delighted Hayley could join us for another writer’s festival session to chat about her search for a sense of belonging from academia to farm life in the Clarence Valley.

All High Country Book Club titles are available for purchase from The Makers Shed, and can be posted to readers within Australia. Browse our online bookshop.

Congratulations to all the finalists in 2020… we’ve been uplifted, challenged, thrilled, frightened, moved, angered, entertained and encouraged to keep reading by your engaging works of fiction and non-fiction.

The winner of the High Country Indie Book Award 2020 will be announced during the High Country Writers Retreat on Saturday October 24. Bookings essential! Join the High Country Book Club by attending The Makers Shed on the third Saturday of every month from 10am-12pm.

%d bloggers like this: