As all those who run an art gallery know, from time to time artists present themselves in person or online seeking an opportunity to show their work. This exhibition recognises those artists, their determination, passion for their medium, and willingness to go out on a limb. It also recognises that our clientele are interested in their story, which is not necessarily the well-trodden path from art school to Artist Run Initiative to gallery or public exhibition. And perhaps our clientele connects with the work itself - work which may not be formed in the crucible of current art theory and practice, but rather informed by varied life experience, personal study, and the sheer joy of creativity itself.
Sam Peacock walked into the gallery over a year ago. A brash Londoner with a hangover following his Australian brother-in-law's buck's party. He brought with him a sample and images of recent work. I connected immediately with the person and the work. Richly textured squares, the landscape like forms and colours physically burned into metal with a blow torch. It was coarse, powerful and raw. He spoke to me about his practice, how he made a living from his art by connecting with galleries in England and Europe and, hopefully Australia, and entering art fairs across Europe. He spoke of the series he had recently worked on, tracing the the old trade routes along the Thames, or visiting every site in the UK where fracking was controversially extracting shale from the ground, and, finally, for the painting shown in this exhibition, working his way up the Blue Mountains where his wife's family live, marking each town on the highway with a panel of colour redolent of the bush, rock and sky. I collected the 10 pieces on exhibition in London in October, shared a beer, met his family.
Anne Spencer. We met when we rented her house on Bilgola beach in Sydney. Throughout the house there were large, vibrant gestural canvases. I took note. Sometime later, Anne met me for a cup coffee at the gallery and she brought images of what I now know to be her own work. We talked, about her lifelong passion for painting, with classes and qualifications squeezed in between work and family. I remembered her bookshelves groaning under the weight of tomes about Australian and overseas art. Her rich understanding of painting was evident in canvas after canvas. The results were vibrant, sweeping and beautiful.
Jessica Hammond. A recent graduate, came into the gallery through a personal connection. Trained in design at UNSW Art and Design, her feel for abstraction reflected her absorption in the way we approach interiors, through light, colour and form They were created, as I could judge, to be part of a scene, not just to live alone. Although at the design end of the spectrum and the beginning of her journey, I understood what Jessica wanted to achieve, and admired her determination to find a place in the art world.
Sharonne Solk approached quietly by email and personal visits, taking the long journey from the North Coast of NSW. English by birth and training, alternative in thinking and lifestyle. The complexity of Sharonne's work, with deceptively simple colour banding, was easy to miss. It took me a while, with her gentle persistence, to look closely and eventually connect. Sharonne did not try to impress with a CV, although hers is impressive enough. She wooed me as a gallerist by the work itself.
I know Sally Stokes because she lives in the art world. Visiting galleries continuously. Reading and absorbing theory. Intelligent commentary. Her own art is frequently on show, through self-managed exhibitions and appearance in group shows and prizes. Her person and art is marked by an irrepressible love of landscape and colour, and a prolific output. There is also real humility. The mark making is rampant but in no way pompous.
Neil Wilson, like Sally, is an insatiable consumer of art. He attends whatever he can, not for the status but for the inspiration of it all. He finds personal pleasure in playing with photography, finding colour blocks in nature and objects. Exploring them, enhancing and shadowing. And is genuinely surprised when people, like me, say. "These are worth showing".
I hope that visitors to our gallery over the Summer period will find a real connection with this exhibition, and these artists.