What do a seagull and a geisha have in common?

Plenty is the answer, evident once you’ve visited the Fremantle home of artist Julie Podstolkski.

Both beauties have been finely captured in coloured pencils by the accomplished New Zealand-born artist; and both will be up for grabs at the annual Help The Homeless Art Auction, held this weekend at the newly revamped Fremantle Town Hall.

“This is The Humble Seagull,” Julie proffers the pic of her feathered friend. A bird-lover from way back, she feels our chip-craving seaside squawker is much-maligned by most; “but I rather love them myself!”

Her meticulous and elegant style is inspired by many visits to Japan over the years.


Julie with the pieces she will submit this year


“I’ve been to Japan 17 times,” Julie reveals. “I first went there with my husband, who was on a business trip, in 2003, and I was most reluctant to go with him – it was around the time of the SARS epidemic. But once I arrived, the scales quickly fell from my eyes; I just looked around me and thought, this place is unbelievable!”

Now she frequently returns to Kyoto – with or without hubby – to photograph many of the geisha girls during their spring dances. “I then come home, get out the pencils and work away,” she gestures to Koaki Presides at Tea, an elegant image of one of her geisha friends. It too, will be auctioned on Saturday night.

Also  at the auction will be Spring, an impressionistic interpretation of a Kyoto garden, to be raffled on the night.

Julie (who moved to Australia in 1982) used to paint in oils, “then in 1994, after the birth of my third child, it was impossible to paint around a baby that could cry any minute,” she explains. “I went and bought some coloured pencils.”

Thus began a rewarding switch of medium which has seen her hold several successful exhibitions.


Julie with Help the Homeless Art Auction curator Lyn DiCiero


She’s a regular contributor to the Help the Homeless Art Auction, curated each year by Lyn DiCiero. Proceeds provide vital support to three important Fremantle charities: Freo Street Doctor (a mobile health clinic), The Sisters’ Place (providing a safe bed for homeless women) and the Fremantle Multicultural Centre (providing short term accommodation and support for migrants and refugees.)

“We have some terrific new treasures up for grabs this time round,” Lyn tells The Starfish.

“I’m impressed by the overall standard this year; we have some of our regular contributors and some new ones as well. We have such a range of styles and prices; there’s something here for everybody.”

As in previous years, Lyn, ensures that many pieces remain high quality but affordable. “Everyone expects to get a bit of a bargain!” she says.

Some of the treasures up for grabs include a 1946 hand-signed lithograph by Picasso, a 1923 ink drawing by Kandinsky and works by collectible artists including Hal Missngham, Elizabeth Blair Barber (aka Betty Bunning) Audrey Greenhalgh, Alan Douglas Baker and Walter Rowbotham.


A work in progress on Julie’s drawing board


Contemporary artists include Jo Darvall, Ian de Souza, Pascal Proteau, Milk Green, Hans Arkeveld, Theo Koning, Joan Johnson, Steward Scambler, Madeleine Clear, Nigel Laxton and Shirley Clancy.

As usual, there’ll be the popular miniature landscapes painted on sardine tins by Susie Marwick.

There will also be photographs for sale from the Homeless Project, coordinated by Helen Coleman in Mandurah. “She gave people a camera, got them to record their lives,” says Lyn.

Many of the artworks are of familiar local scenes, including Brian Simmonds’s Point Walter Jetty, an original painting from his book The River, and Trish Scambler’s porcelain Dingo Jug (featuring the iconic Freo sign).

Help The Homeless Auction is open for viewing on Friday, June 16 from 3pm to 5pm and on Saturday from 1pm to 5pm. The auction begins at 5.30pm on Saturday, following performances by the popular Starlight Hotel Choir. Refreshments are provided and there will be two raffles on the night – one for Julie Podstolski’s Spring and one for the four book guide Art of the Twentieth Century, valued at $270.

See you there!

A full catalogue of works is at www.blackswanhealth.com.au



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