Tag Archives: Art Exhibition

Creativity is this scientist’s absurd Plan B

Armidale-based artist James O’Hanlon

SCIENTIST-TURNED-ARTIST James O’Hanlon features in a solo exhibition at New England NSW creative hub The Makers Shed across autumn, with an array of work inspired by exploration, discovery and pushing the limits of perception.

According to James, art as been a hobby for most of his career, “an indulgence when I had spare time and inspiration,” he says.

“Perhaps because of this, my art has become a means of complete escapism. 

“The subjects of my art are from other worlds and universes, silly ones that probably don’t make much sense. 

“Why? Because I can, and that’s the gift that art gives us, isn’t it?” James says.

‘Dirigifish’ (acrylic on canvas) by James O’Hanlon

After moving to the New England region with his family five years ago to start a new job, James says he never imagined switching careers and becoming a freelance artist and illustrator with a nifty sideline in murals.

“This region has been the backbone of my creative career and it wouldn’t have been possible without the support, enthusiasm and opportunities given to me by local people, businesses and organisations,” he says.

Sandbox to play in

In his scientific career, James has spent years exploring the natural world, so it’s no surprise that quirky animal characters feature heavily in ‘Plan B’, the title he gave his Glen Innes exhibition. 

“I have always admired artists who create their own little worlds to explore and fill them with endearing creatures,” he says.

“Whether it’s the cute clay-formed world of Nick Park’s Wallace and Gromit, or the dark and gritty world of comic artists like Greg Capullo and Todd McFarlane [both North American comic book artists], I love getting an insight into the minds and passions of the creators themselves. 

“Changing the world is difficult in real life, but fictional worlds give us a sandbox to play in and explore new possibilities before we can take the first steps of making change in the real world.”

Throughout the works in Plan B, art lovers will experience themes of exploration and discovery; small characters encountering new environments and pushing the limits of their perception. 

“I enjoy creating expressive characters placed in absurd circumstances to explore ideas about how we perceive our own life experiences,” James says.

“I celebrate underdogs, problem solvers, ugly ducklings, fish out of water, and the just plain unlucky. 

“I use a range of mediums including acrylics, watercolours, ink, and digital art to tell stories, and hopefully make people smile and quietly guffaw.”

Entrepreneur

After focussing on his art career about two years ago, just as COVID started and the arrival of his daughter, James experienced a hectic two years in his new creative direction.

“It’s not a career path that I would recommend others take,” he says. 

“Nevertheless, it’s been an incredible journey so far with many more highs than lows, and experiences I never thought I would have, doing everything from illustrating books to learning how to drive a scissor lift to paint large scale murals.

“I love to work! This mindset has been very helpful because being a practicing artist is being a small business and dealing every day with very non-artsy sounding things like finances and time management. 

“I’m working hard on being as much an entrepreneur as I am a creative. 

“As much as I like bringing my own ideas to life, I also enjoy being a service provider and helping other peoples visions come to life! I am looking into the future and am excited about working with more people and organisations to bring some colour and light into their lives and communities,” he says.

Plan B: works by James O’Hanlon, The Makers Shed, 123 Grey Street Glen Innes, until May 28. A selection of works is for sale online.

Main image: ‘Humperdink’ (acrylic on canvas) by James O’Hanlon.

‘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.