Saturday, March 7, 2015

Newcastle Art Scene

Newcastle Gallery Collective Inaugural Exhibition 2015 Artists: Kelly Barlin, Michelle Brodie. Mal Cannon, Frances Fussell, Jackie Gooring, Paul Maher, Barbara Nanshe, Jill Orr, Joanna O’Toole, Matthew Tome, Ahn Wells, Meredith Woolnough.

A hot Sunday afternoon is not the ideal time to wander through the many galleries about Newcastle but I’m happy I made the effort. Yesterday was the final day to see Small Medium Large, an exhibition incorporating the efforts of 12 local artists and 4 local galleries.  The energy required to coordinate an exhibition so extensive is to be commended. But more importantly witnessing small galleries working collaboratively is beneficial to the art community of Newcastle who tend to go a long way in supporting one another.  This is an extension of that social cohesion.

I began the hop at Nanshe Gallery in Beaumont St.  The premise of the exhibition where the artist was to present small, medium and large works to the four galleries worked well in this small gallery.  Many large works were hung thoughtfully but I must admit my attention was diverted to a work by Michelle Brodie.  Previously documented is Brodie’s exploration into imagery representing her imagined self. And further studies are evident in this suite of paintings.  More appealing for me however was the enticing application of paint. Subject matter seemed superfluous.  On to Newcastle Art Space where large acrylic paintings by Joanna O’Toole on the back wall of Gallery 2 became evident.  With titles such as “Cast into the ocean” and “Jellyfish” it is apparent where the inspiration for these abstract paintings comes from.  In Gallery 1 artist Paul Maher used thick oil paint in high key to represent the path along Scenic Drive.  Roughly painted the gesture is quick, deliberate and intriguing.

Next stop C Studios in Hunter St where again I had my favourite.  This time the artist Ahn Well’s captured my attention with wonderful colour and shape.  Line and form appeared quite masterful in its abstract quality.  Also Kelly Barlin’s amazing photograph’s on glass bricks were captivating.

And last but certainly not least is Four Point Gallery.  What can only be described as a stunning painting by Frances Fussell greeted me on arrival.  Although works such as this are generally not my preference I must acknowledge the beauty and wonderment that an image such as “Pink Orchids” holds.  The work of Matthew Tome toward the rear of the gallery was my highlight however.  These small oil on canvas paintings seem simple in structure and technique but the complexity of layering and contrast is evident. 

For all the art enthusiasts in Newcastle this collaborative exhibition can only be described as a treat. Wandering from one gallery to the next, anticipating what will be discovered and how the works progress and inform is new and hopefully going to recur for many years to come.

Kerri Smith
Guest Reviewer

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