Excursion to Australian Galleries

Yesterday was a great day in Melbourne. I’m not just talking about the weather. You see, yesterday I took my delightful Cert IV students to visit the Australian Galleries in Collingwood. After meeting at La Niche French Cafe on Smith street were spent over an hour examining the various rooms and spaces at the gallery. Australian Galleries was opened in 1956 by Anne and Tam Purves and joined later by their son Stuart. With over sixty years of service to the arts, the gallery has enjoyed the privilege of promoting and encouraging a leading selection of modern and contemporary Australian artists.

One of the highlights of the visit was when Stuart introduced himself and gave us an impromptu history lesson about this famous gallery. Wearing his trademark red shoes he looked very smart. In fact, he even talked about the artist Jeffrey Smart.

Later, when we walked across the road to the Stock Room we were greeted by Stuart’s sister Caroline who also took time out of her busy schedule to say hello to the students and explain ‘how the stock room’ operates.

Overall, I think we all had a very good time.
It was a lovely way to end Term 3 for the students (and me).

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Meeting Eolo Paul Bottaro

Today a select group of students (from all year levels) traveled down to Essendon Fields to meet a very fine artist (and good friend of mine) named Eolo Paul Bottaro. I am told that this special ‘study tour’ organised with the kind assistance of the Essendon Fields management team is the first to visit Paul’s studio.

Melbourne-born Paul Bottaro has been a practicing artist for over 20 years and a self-confessed lover and exponent of the Renaissance art movement. In fact, he has succeeded in reviving ‘traditional’ art techniques that have almost been forgotten, such as paint from pure, hand-ground pigments. Paul also prefers to prepare his raw linen canvases by adhering to a 300-year-old gesso recipe (a recipe he customises for his own purposes). After four coats of gesso, he then adds an opaque organic pigment for coverage. Then, rather than using a white canvas to paint upon, he prefers to paint on colour which gives his background a mid-tone to work upon.

Our tour starts in the State Room at the Australian Event Centre where we get to stand up-close and personal with Paul’s magnificent fresco titled ‘Udepata – the Gathering Place’. What a sight to behold. Paul was able to explain in excellent and exact detail the lengthy and meticulous process he undertook to create the fresco. He was also able to comfortably answer some very good questions that were asked by our students.

Udepata depicts Ellery Creek Big Hole, one of the main waterholes in the West MacDonnell Ranges in central Australia. The Aboriginal name for the waterhole is Udepata, and as a permanent source of water it is an important place for the Arrarnta people. Many visitors come here to swim in its cool waters, and the artist has depicted contemporary figures immersed in an ancient, primordial landscape. His influences in creating this work include the paintings of Albert Namatjira (1902 – 1959), a prominent Aboriginal artist who depicted the region.

This work has been created in the method of buon fresco, a technique in which pure alkaline-resistant colour pigments, ground in water, are applied to wet plaster. When the plaster dries the painting is embedded in the surface of the wall. It is an exacting and labour intensive technique with little room for error. This piece was specially commissioned for the Australian Events Centre.

After a short walk to the Essendon Airport Terminal we were once again enthralled by Paul mastery with a brush as he highlighted the back story to a rather large oil painting titled ‘Pactolus’ that hangs near the entrance of the terminal. The painting has been created in the traditional egg tempera and oil on linen and depicts Victoria’s iconic NGV building as the backdrop of a scene depicting King Midas turning his daughter to gold.

Afterwards we were all invited to Paul’s studio located in a large disused building that resembles an hanger from the 1960s. Inside we were introduced to Paul’s latest work, a giant Titan sculpture that is destined to be turned into bronze and placed outside the Hyatt hotel at Essendon Fields. The titan sculpture is inspired by the mythological figure of Atlas – the Titan of Greek mythology – who was fated to bear the weight of the universe on his back.

Special thanks to Eolo Paul Bottaro for inviting us to his studio and to see his work at Essendon Fields. Thanks also to Christine Novo from the Essendon Fields Marketing Executive for helping to arrange the tour and for the lovely La Manna cakes.

To view more of Paul’s work please visit his website.
https://eolopaulbottaro.com

 

Meeting Shaun Tan

On Thursday morning (21.3.19) my Cert IV and Diploma students (Visual Arts) we treated to a rare and wonderful talk by the amazing artist/illustrator Shaun Tan at the Beinart Gallery in Brunswick. Jon Beinart (the owner of the gallery) was kind enough to arrange for Shaun to come and meet with my students and to talk about his second solo show at the gallery.

Needless to say, the morning went beyond all our expectations. Shaun was extremely articulate and very generous with his time. In fact she spoke for nearly two hours. What impressed me the most (and I am sure most of my students) was Shaun’s ability to explain his creative process and add meaning to each of the works on display. I am sure my students can now appreciate that skill and technique coupled with a winning personality and a compelling narrative makes for a very successful marriage.

Here are a few photos from the event.
Thank you to Shaun Tan and Jon Beinart for this most memorable event.
Shaun, you have enlightened us all.

Fact or Fiction Competition 2017

LR--fact-or-fiction-poster-2017It’s back, bigger and better than ever.
It’s not to late to start preparing your entry for this year’s Fact or Fiction Portrait Competition. You can get more information by clicking the link above. That’s right! The one that reads ‘Fact or Fiction’. Good luck.

Entries must be submitted no later than 4pm on Tuesday the 18th of July 2017,