Newsletter vol 9, September 2009
Dear friends and friends of my work,
We are running a bit behind schedule with this edition of the newsletter as I was hoping to get it out before our fabulous show at Parliament House in Canberra. If you do visit Canberra in the next few weeks, go and see it. It is still open for viewing until 30th of September 2009. And there are also a number of very exciting news to report on.
Mosman Art Prize and Black Swan Portrait Prize
When I found out that well known artist Margaret Olley was judging this years Mosman Art Prize, I knew I would have a good chance to be hung if i entered one of my flower paintings. I think I have learned from past experience that it’s not worthwhile entering Art Prizes that are judged by a single judge who themselves paint in a completely different genre or style. We all grow wiser with failure and if I can pass on anything to other artists wanting to enter art prizes, do your research on the judges. So, it was very exciting to be informed that I had made the finalist list in the Prize which is one of the oldest and most prestigious, local government art awards in Australia dating back as far as 1947. The opening was jam packed with local celebrities and arts personalities. Having been hung above reception just on entering the building resulted in a lot of comments from visitors and I got some great feed back from my painting.
Another Art Award I was selected finalist in is the Black Swan Portrait Prize. Only third year running this Prize has gathered quite a bit of momentum and represents some of Australia’s finest portraitists this year. I won’t be making the trip to Perth for the opening as I have prior family committments but am hoping that my adopted family over in Perth will be my cheer squad. My subject for this years Prize is the Hon Robert McClelland – our federal Attorney General. He was a gracious, generous and friendly sitter, a warm family father, dog lover and spokes person for Aboriginal issues.
Meet the New Vice President!
It is an absolute honour to be made vice president of Portrait Artists Australia for 2009, a position that will mean a lot of hard work, challenges and responsibilities but lots of fun and excitement too. I got elected back into the committe at PAA’s Annual General Meeting and the previous President Nafisa made an appealing plea for me to step into the role of Vice. So here we go…
As mentioned earlier, if you happen to drive through Canberra, make sure you visit the gorgeous New Parliament House and see Portrait Artists Australia’s show “Unsung Heroes”. The show focuses on people who make the world a better place, but don’t necessarily get a lot of recognition for their amazing contributions.
I was very fortunate to be introduced to the retiring head of Taronga Zoo, Guy Cooper, who agreed to sit for me. Guy is also Chief Executive of the Taronga Conservation Society Australia. He has been associated with Taronga and Western Plains Zoos since 1991. He presided over the development of the $251 million Master Plan, which has revolutionised both zoos, established the Taronga Conservation Society Australia and created the Taronga Foundation. Guy has taken a lead role in representing the zoological industry both internationally and nationally, with a key focus on influencing policy and creating an operating environment helping zoos in their vital roles in species preservation, research and education. He’s championed research programs supporting threatened species ranging from Corroboree Frogs to Black Rhinoceros including a plan to save the Tasmanian Devil from extinction.
Opening night was just amazing. We had fabulous Sasha Grishin give a talk. Sasha is a Sir William Dobell Professor of Art at the Australian National University, very knowledgable. Great speech, such a humbling experience. All in all everyone there was just in awe of the standard of the show, the environment at Parliament House, the food, wine and the amount of guest turning up. Over expectations.
Whilst in Canberra I used the occasion to visit the newly opened National Portrait Gallery not far from it’s old location in a brand new very swish looking building. It is always stimulating and motivating to see some of Australia’s finest art works on display. I think it must be one of the most developing things to do as an artist – to look at great art work.
News from Queensland
As a lot of you might have heard, Schubert Galleries closed its doors a couple of months ago and a number of ex-Schubert artists inluding myself have now joined the stable of the new Astras Galleries, which has taken over Schubert’s old premises in the Marina Mirage complex at Main Beach. Critton Astras, the galleries director, says the decision to open a second gallery only 2km from Art Gallery Collections was motivated by the gradual deterioration of the Surfer’s Paradise area and clientele. About 30 per cent of the Astras Galleries business will be investment art, however Astras plans to draw all exhibitions from the contemporary stable.
I had the pleasure to meet with Critton on a trip up to Queensland in July. We were heading up to see the American Impressionist and Realist Exhibition at the Queensland Gallery in Brisbane and used the opportunity to meet with staff of the two David Hart Galleries in Mooloolaba and Noosa on the Sunshine Coast as well as Astras in Main Beach on the Gold Coast. Both galleries have exciting plans for the future and it will be an interesting time to be part of both galleries.