What a buzz, to be walking back into local art galleries, enjoying the offerings of creative Australians. And yes, mingling with other gallery visitors – all an air kiss away at all times natch!
The excitement began when we visited Artitja Fine Art Gallery in Freo, to see paintings by the Munupi Artists from Melville Island (one of the Tiwi Islands, about 100km north of Darwin.)
They lit up the room, as did some fine carvings of animals and Mimih spirits made from hollow logs adorned with intricate cross hatching, by the Maningrida community in Arnhem Land (380km away from the Tiwis.)
It was great to see curators Anna Kanaris and Arthur Clarke, who have forged close ties with indigenous communities over many years, and have done so much to enlighten us about the creative offerings of our indigenous brothers and sisters.
Visit the gallery, at 330 South Terrace, or head online to check out the exhibition at www.artitja.com.au
Later in the week we popped into Gallows Gallery in Mosman Park for the opening for a new exhibition by award-winning artist Lori Pensini, featuring feminine portraits, decorated with swirls of native plants and birds, paying homage to our WA landscape.
Lori has been painting for more than 20 years.
More than any of us, Lori knows how it feels to feel isolated. A former architectural drafter, she moved up to the Pilbara when she was 20, to live with her husband on a remote station. A caring aunt sent her canvases and paints “and I felt so guilty she’d spent all this money, I thought, I’d better do something with it, and started painting!”
“I toiled for a while and the toiling ended up becoming an obsession. The landscape just absorbs you doesn’t it.. You’re so small; there in the presence of something so much older than you. I started painting what I was experiencing,” she explains.
”“Essentially I’m just a story teller; with my work, it’s figurative /narrative work. And there are just so many stories to tell! I’m really connected to the landscape, it’s part of my being, and that comes back from my heritage.”
To her delight, Lori recently discovered she had Aboriginal blood. “I’ve always painted with an ‘Aboriginal’ style… It was really wonderful for me to learn this.”
She had assumed the deep spiritual connection she felt with landscape “was through living on the station, but it went back further than that.”
While the characters she paints are fictitious, she has started to see them as “self portraits, in a way.” Not so much physically, but, in reflecting her emotions and experiences.
Other times, though, she feels the characters she’s painting take on a life of their own, to the extent they are almost ordering the artist how to depict them. “Sometimes I feel I’m just the vessel to the story! These people become so real. I have to get it out but I don’t know what they want me to say; sometimes it’s really weird!”
It may feel like this to Lori, but around Australia, she’s gaining more followers, and awards.
On opening night, the walls at Gallows were already awash with red stickers.
Lori remains forever grateful to that concerned aunt who sent that generous care package more than two decades ago.
Another art event is coming up later this month: the annual Help The Homeless Art Auction and Sale.
For the past few years, it’s been a joy to head down to Fremantle Town Hall, join an enthusiastic crowd listen to the wonderful Starlight Hotel Choir, tuck into some tasty snacks and bid for art. all while raising money for good causes like Freo Street Doctor.
This year, due to that pesky corona virus, the organisers have had to make it an online event. The works: paintings, ceramics, sculpture paper cuts, (even artworks inside empty sardine tins!) will be online from June 21 to July 5.
Included in the Auction this year are works by Tony Jones, Jo Darvall, Greg James, Milk Green, Steward Scambler, Sandra Black, Julie Podstolski, Lesley Barrett, Anne Gee, Sheryl Chant, Carol Clitheroe, sisters June and Jean Pastore, Shirley Clancey, Madeleine Clear, Susie Marwick, Lesley Whitham, Amok Island and Luda Korczynskyj.
For details visit www.artistschronicle.com/onshow
And to the sculptors among us, a reminder that the Castaways Sculptures Awards, held at Rockingham beach, is upon us again. It’s in its 12th year, it’s a chance for sculptors to transform one person’s trash into an artistic treasure. Entries close at 4pm on June 19 for the exhibition, held late October. Here you can see the 2019 major winning work by Gail Farquhar, cleverly using cut plastic milk bottles as her main medium.