Tag Archives: The Makers Shed

Impressionist Champion captures the light

AN EXHIBITION OF works inspired by the effects of sunlight is set to brighten the walls of The Makers Shed in Glen Innes across winter.

The art of Inverell-based painter Peter Champion, ‘Let the Sun Shine’ features an array of land- and sea-scapes of the New England, Northern Rivers and the eastern seaboard of New South Wales.

“They reflect my constant interest in what we see in sunlight at various times of the day, some being morning, during the day, afternoon and when the moon first appears,” Champion said.

An art teacher trained at the National Art School at East Sydney and the Alexander Mackie College of Advanced Education, Champion is renowned for his Impressionist-inspired works.

“I work in both the studio and ‘plein air’,” he said, describing the French term for capturing a scene in the field.  

“Studio work is usually larger though not always, whereas plein air is the immediate results of being in the landscape or seascape.

“I try to paint them in one session to capture a moment, hence the works are usually smaller,” he said.

Hunting the landscape

LIGHT TOUCH ‘Poplars at Brodies Plains’ by Peter Champion

When painting in the open air, Champion hunts the landscape until he finds a subject he likes, then sets up to work in oils or acrylics. 

“Both have advantages. Acrylic dries very quickly, enabling the layering of paint within a few minutes, whereas oils dry very slowly and colour application has to be different,” he said.

“In oils it is a case of laying thin dark areas and building up the lights over the top. Acrylics due to their quick-dry quality means that light over dark is not as crucial.”

More than 150 years since the start of the Impressionism movement in France, the technique developed by artists like Claude Monet remains a popular means of rendering light with paint.

Champion’s latest exhibition includes landscapes of the New England region, with riverside and roadside scenes, and a variety of seascapes.

“I paint both landscape and seascape and in an impressionistic way of quick, short brush marks as this helps me fracture the image on the canvas to get the effects of my title ‘Let the Sun Shine’,” Champion said.

Let the Sun Shine opens on Saturday June 18 from 3pm and runs until Saturday August 27 at The Makers Shed, Glen Innes. A selection of works is available for purchase online.

FRACTURED LIGHT ‘Windy Day at North Head’ by Peter Champion

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.

Ceramic flair in the high country

AN EXHIBITION OF new ceramic work will open at Glen Innes’ creative hub The Makers Shed in June, featuring the work of local ceramicist and potter Anita Stewart.

Stewart has regularly exhibited work at The Makers Shed since the venue opened in 2018, and is well-known to locals as part of the Glen Innes Pottery Club, situated like the Shed on Grey Street. ‘Winter Clay’ captures some exciting new directions with the ceramicist’s form and style.

Anita Stewart, Glen Innes-based ceramicist.

“Discovering clay for me was like a fish taking to water,” Stewart said. 

“I studied Fine Arts in Western Australia for three years. Like many artists, I had been practicing before I actually decided to do formal training. 

“At Fremantle Tech I did units in painting design and drawing, then in 1995 I travelled to the New England region and discovered the wonderful ceramics courses run by Max Powell at the Glen Innes TAFE.”

Stewart’s newest work features an array of fresh forms – evocative black tiles, ceramic ‘breasts’, and stylised platters – in addition to some classic styles she’s already well-known for, such as her vibrant citrus squeezers.

“The inspiration to create a new body of work usually comes when working on new forms at the wheel,” she said.

“For instance, the last federal election inspired my ‘message in a bottle’ series. Using the surface of the pot as a canvas I add multiple layers to create an image that speaks. The New England Landscape has also given me great inspiration for my work.”

According to Stewart, the Glen Innes Pottery Club was established about 30 years ago and has remained a vibrant part of the community. 

“Lots of well-known potters have been a part of the club,” she said. 

Winner of multiple awards for her ceramics, Stewart laughs when asked to define what it takes to be a practicing artist, adding that “stamina, determination and absolute passion” are essentials for anyone wanting to make a long-term career of creativity; although she believes people should never be shy of signing up for a workshop and having a go.

“It’s really nice teaching people how to work with clay because it’s a very tactile medium and they usually seem really pleased when they’ve created a functional and colourful work of art,” she said. 

“The wheel can be a bit more of a challenge, but they are overjoyed when they manage to throw a pot on it.”

Winter Clay opens at The Makers Shed, 123 Grey Street Glen Innes at 2pm on Saturday June 19 and runs until August 28.