I have the wonderful fortune of continuing to attract work that involves artists. It's becoming somewhat of a forté - photographing and filming artists. I love it because I am really quite the art critic deep down. I believe I know what is good art and a real artisté when I meet one. However what I enjoy most is the insight into different artist's lives, being inside the studio and work of an artist and connecting with their personal stories and drive. Artists are just people but the difference often is in how they engage with the world, more emotionally literate, more aesthetically alive and they often create homes and spaces that fulfil me.
I simply enjoy their company.
The Glen Innes Art Gallery received CASP funding (Country Arts Support!) with the support of Arts North West, with which they were able to engage me as a photographer to work across the New England regional to photograph artists, venues and galleries as part of the Country Arts Escapes website. The new site gives visitors a sense of who they can visit so they can map out an art escapes tour of their own.
I had to drive between places like Tamworth, Glen Innes, Inverell, Armidale and Tenterfield and for a couple of legs I had the lovely company of budding photographer Gemma Tann whom I mentored on the road and between pies.
Come and travel with me through some of my visits...
First stop, Tony Sevil.
I resonated with Tony very much. He loves collecting junk and holding it up as art. He showed me how a piece of burgundy suede sitting on a strip of red plastic was just oh so lovely and he felt there was nothing more he could do to make it any better. And I related to this! It provided the perfect contrast and naturalness and so why construct anything further?
Tony gave me eggs and offered tea as he showed me all the junky treats that lined his walls and floors. Below is the train made of junkyard parts.
I then went to the old homestead Saumarez. I had full reign of the two floors full of old hand carved wood, antiques and wallpapered living rooms, all laid out as it were when it was occupied in the 1800s. Very ghostly, very real.
Now we go to David MacKay. His work is meticulous. He draws detailed illustrations of nature and when I asked if he had a background in botanical illustration, he told me he did. It made sense that his work was so near perfect yet also much better than perfect - if you know what I mean? That's the beauty of illustration over photography.
What I like most about artist's studios in the unintentional arty pieces that lie around that tell more of the story. I like to create my own art in a photography - like watercolour squares against gum leaves. Perfectly edible I think!
To another very physical-artist... we go to Francois Jaggi, a French sculptor in Armidale.
We wandered around his property like a treasure hunt, finding artworks in the misty recesses of hedges and garden beds. I loved the contrast of metal and foilage.
Next stop Tamworth to drop into Andrea Bruno's studio. It was both an artist studio and a workshop space where people could converse over art and cigarettes. Paint everywhere and it felt very European.
Further out of town lies Edelweiss Gallery where their specialty is glass - vases and lamps.
I've always found glass fascinating in itself and I admired how this gallery could exist in an otherwise farmland-scape and have an array of unique arts and crafts for visitors to explore.
The sweet Annabel Hoskins art is on the wall at Edelweiss and so we headed to her house to check out her paintings.
I took a few photographs and she gave me a hundred old records she was going to get rid of anyway. Exchange always thrills me!
Way off the beaten track was Forest to Furniture. It is a gallery in Tenterfield that features wood works, painting and ceramics. This was my favourite piece - however I do have a penchant for original, organic, phallic kind of things.
I loved dropping into Glen Innes' regional art gallery and spending time with the folks there. I thought they made wonderful sculpture in themselves as they posed in the shafts of light coming through the window.
My time with artists and venues is as much about our interaction as it is the images. I love to understand the places, what is important to them, what typifies them and thus was truly represents...
Here is Inverell's regional gallery - not so far away...
And a close up of Nicci Jones working on a pot.
Then I drove down a sweet country lane near Armidale to discover The Orchard Studio.
I do like the non-traditional representation of artists. Here is Julia taking her artwork back inside.
And Studio 91 in Manilla was a shop front and studio in one. I love seeing funky shop windows in old country towns. It gives me hope that fresh ideas can grow in old places.
And last stop, Rhonda. And her home based gallery. Rhonda moved me! She opened up about her life story of personal trauma turned into the discovery of herself as an artist late in life - and her genuine contentness with living alone and managing her life as she does without the need for others. She was very very kind and trusting towards me and spoke with such golden words and stories I wanted to record them into a film! And perhaps perhaps I will.
Thank you for such a brilliant journey with my camera. I hope you enjoyed it too.
Country Art Escapes is proudly funded by The Country Arts Support Program. CASP is is funded by the NSW Government through Arts NSW and jointly delivered by Regional Arts NSW and Regional Arts Boards throughout NSW.
[current mood] Pictionary Pants-Peeing & Burnt Fig, Honeycomb and Caramel Ice Cream