Local artist group Art Angels are opening their exciting new exhibition in Balmain this month. We caught up with an Angel to find out about this group and their plans after the Diversity exhibition.
> When did the Art Angels form?
The group formed in 1988, with several local women seeing a need for the opportunity to get together regularly and share ideas and practices. As rural women isolated by distance, living in an area with limited cultural activities, it made sense to form a loose collective. Over the last 20 years the group has forged an identity and acquired its name.
Art Angels has proved to be a source of friendship, emotional and practical support, cooperative projects and a way to unleash, foster and combine our creative energies. We work towards a group exhibition every two years, utilising local galleries. The Manning Regional Gallery has been supportive over the time, and we have had some great shows there.
The only original ‘Angel’ is Val Clark, with many women taking part for a period of time, but leaving for various reasons. Some have left the area because of work or continued study, or are sometimes committed to other interests.
The ‘Angels’ meet in each others’ homes once a month and usually start with coffee and a time to share what’s happened during the month, exchange ideas, discuss projects and review current exhibitions.
During the time they have held workshops where a guest artist instructs them in new techniques, which develop and increases choice in their own practice. On several occasions they have spent weekends away visiting artists and viewing exhibitions.
> Who are the Angels?
At present the group consists of 5 members: Val Clark, Anke de Reuver, Sue Finlayson, Pat Land, and Jill Day – a graphic designer who didn’t want to exhibit this time, but who has been a great help with invitations, price lists etc. They find it important that members share ideologies and life-styles, as this creates a harmony within the group.
They decided to go further afield with the present exhibition at the Balmain Watchhouse called ‘Diversity’, because each works in such varied media, themes and subject matter.
Val began working mainly with silk painting and dying after attending a fabric printing course at Taree TAFE. A lover of colour, she has created scarves, wraps and lengths of material using different dyes and techniques to create unusual colourful effects. Recently she has been developing a technique for applying silk to terra-cotta pots, creating an effect not unlike papiermache.
She has attended many workshops over the years, learning new techniques for dying, printing and painting silk and has been greatly influenced by Shibori methods, which she uses regularly. Also working with natural fibres, Val has screen-printed cotton to create cushions and a kimono for the Balmain exhibition.
Anke first trained in Interior Design at the National Art School and then completed a Diploma of Education to begin working as an art teacher. She has been working at Taree High School for many years and enjoys the wide range of media and art forms in the classroom. Every hour is different, and each class has a different challenge.
For this exhibition she has produced a series based on Fruit Bats or Flying Foxes – especially from the aspect of loss of habitat. She has produced etchings and collograh prints, as well as ceramic bats on the wall to rival the old ‘ducks on the wall’. She also has several paintings about the environment and still lifes. Three ceramic masks are included for fun.
In the last 2 years she has learned to weld with Sue, and she is looking forward to practicing her skills to create sculptures in the future.
Sue graduated from the National Art School in the mid ‘70s. She has been a visual art teacher in the Manning area for the last 25 years and is currently employed at Taree High School.
She has been a practising artist for the last 35 years, developing her skills by attending workshops and exhibiting regularly. Life drawing is a passion, as is learning new techniques and art forms. Recently printmaking and welding have been a part of her practise. Some of her recent prints can be seen in the ‘Diversity’ exhibition.
The love of botanical shapes, textures and colours has been the driving force for this body of work.
Receiving an old pressed leaf album as a much appreciated gift was the inspiration for several of the works. The variety of shapes, from exquisitely delicate ferns through to robustly textured lotus leaves provided scope for investigation and practice.
October/November in the Manning Valley is a cacophony of colour, with the scarlet red flame trees juxtaposed against the cascading lilac jacarandas. The meandering Manning River’s deep olives and the reflected pthalo skies make living here a joy.
Pat is a retired teacher who recently moved here from England with her husband Jim – they are now Australian citizens living in Koorainghat, Taree. Pat is currently undertaking Year 5 (Advanced Diploma) of a Fine Art Course at Tuncurry TAFE.
Originally interested in fibre art, Pat has broadened her scope to embrace mixed media, usually incorporating some fibre-related techniques and processes.
Printmaking and photography have figured largely in recent studies, but increasingly she sees no boundaries between the traditional specialisms.
Pat has found inspiration in the study of medieval architecture and its decorative devices, in the tombs of the great and the good, in aged photographs of dead ‘rellies’ and friends, in old family documents and memorabilia and in many associated images and artifacts. Nostalgia has been a recurring theme, and her approach tends to be towards the decorative.
The art pieces featured in the exhibition are selected from a range of recent works.
All ‘Angels’ are members of the Friends of the Manning Regional Art Gallery (Fogs) so are constantly in touch with the cultural activities of the Valley.
They are keen to exhibit locally and will source available venues after the Balmain exhibition.
> Thank you Angels.