The Bee-Keeper

Pathways leads to prize shortlist

Friday, September 22, 2017
Avondale artists finalists in Gosford, exhibitors in Sydney

Two Avondale academics, a lecturer and an alumna are finalists in an annual Gosford Regional Gallery exhibition offering $24,000 in prize money to winning artists.

Works by senior visual communication lecturers Dr Andy Collis and Tony Martin, casual academic Donna Pinter and former casual academic and marketing officer/graphic designer Kayla Wolf are among 161 selected for the Gosford Art Prize and Gosford Ceramics Prize exhibition. The gallery received 520 entries.

Martin’s Floating, a polished porcelain and ironbark timber work, received a high commendation for the ceramics prize. The others—Collis’ The Bee-Keeper (acrylic on canvas), Pinter’s Deep Shallows (archival print on cotton rag) and Wolf’s John the Bearded Dragon (acrylic on wood with satin varnish)—were eligible for the art prize.

The Bee-Keeper is the fifth of Collis’ works the gallery has shortlisted for the art prize—a portrait of daughter Annie-Rose, two self-portraits and a mixed media collaboration with colleague Dr Richard Morris are former finalists.

Collis unveiled the work during the opening of an exhibition at Gallery KLEI in central Sydney on July 30. Pathways featured 17 of Collis’ acrylic paintings, all but one of which he created on a 10-acre property near Avoca Beach on the Central Coast. “My painting studio—a converted old horse stable—is also nestled in the heart of the property,” he writes in his artist statement. “All the sites for the works are therefore within walking distance of the studio, or even viewed from the studio door.”

Collis’ idea: to reinvigorate the tradition of landscape painting in plein-air style but with a more innate, contemporary technique. “I used the landscape motifs of the property as a springboard for more expressive, more energetic, more spontaneous paintwork,” he says. “Now I have a technique I can replicate on the spot and that produces landscape works that look exciting.”

Gallery KLEI also invited Martin to show his works alongside Collis’. Martin describes his 10 porcelain pieces as being “over a decade in the making.” The inspiration for them came from an elderly friend in Michigan, USA. “During our conversation he showed me, with great pride, a beautiful collection of scrimshaw—the result of a lifetime of collecting from the Cape Cod to Prince Edward Island coastline,” writes Martin in his artist statement. “I found the objects utterly seductive. Gleaming, silky smooth whale ivory . . . decorated with dark brown carvings of nautical themes.”

Adding carved timber feet to the base of the porcelain pieces further celebrates “the colours and textures of the Australian landscape.”

Representing Avondale in the Gosford and Sydney exhibitions is significant, says Collis. “It demonstrates that we as artists, and by association, our students, make relevant contributions to the community through our creative practice.”

The Gosford Art Prize and Gosford Ceramics Prize exhibition opened at the Gosford Regional Gallery on September 22. It closes on November 26.

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Kristen Olson

Kristen Olson is writer, artist and designer who has flown across the Pacific Ocean from the United States to continue her tertiary studies at Avondale College of Higher Education. The visual arts major is a former contributor to the magazine La Sierra University and to The Odyssey Online, a creative writing platform for millennials.