The blockbuster show of first rate drawings from the Kedumba Collection continues in the large gallery space until July 29.
This excellent collection contains most of the important names in Australian art over the last 60 or so years, because, although the Kedumba Collection has only been going for around 20 years, many artists have donated works to the collection, to augment the annual acquisitions through the Kedumba Art Award.
Previously housed at Blue Mountains Grammar School, the collection looks like being with us for some time, until the trustees can find or build a suitable space in the Blue Mountains to house the 200 works in the collection. The general feeling is that the collection does belong in the mountains, as most of the impetus for it came from there, as do many of the donors and supporters.
Orange Regional Gallery is delighted to be able to display and care for the collection, which is only possible because we have so many of our own works on show at the Orange hospital, freeing up storage space for this excellent collection.
The exhibition contains just about every style of drawing you can think of, and therefore is a brilliant show for art students - drawing being the most important and elementary form of communication, essential to all figurative art.
Some of the Kedumba works are so complex that they stretch the concept of a drawing, others have that delightful spontaneity and ability to capture a likeness in just a few lines - a skill which never fails to amaze non-artists.
I have discovered a number of interesting things while the collection has been on show here. There is for instance a deliberately childlike and amateurishly draw nNolan in the collection. At first I thought the only reason I noticed it was because of its bright colour. But the image has stayed with me … for reasons I have not really been able to fathom.
For me, it just has that X factor that Neil Cuthbert talks about, that special something which taps into our unconscious somehow and directly bypasses rationality.
Nolan experimented with surrealism on many occasions during his career, and this work seems to have something of the power of coincidence about it.
There are many other works that have given me something to think about and. indeed, I have to admit that I quite like one of the drawings by Adam Cullen, an artist whom I had previously thought to be incapable of making anything worth looking at.
So this is part of the appeal of the Kedumba Collection - we can learn something important about the techniques of our favourite artists, and also work out what is most important to them - for the act of drawing tends to capture relatively quickly what the artist feels is most telling about the subject.
Harry Sherwin the master of Clare
Well, it is probably not difficult to be the master of Clare (South Australia), as Harry Sherwin may for all I know be the only professional artist living there.
Nonetheless, there is much that is masterly about Sherwin’s technique, his watercolour still life pictures in particular are highly accomplished, and he manages to give the appearance that the watercolour is lit from within – the holy grail for many water colourists.
This exhibition concentrates on 30 odd years of Sherwin’s practice, from his time in Adelaide through to the present life in Clare,where he manages to also be involved as a picker and general hand for the exclusive vineyard Wendouree, thought by many to be the finest winery in Australia.
I am told that merchant bankers pay a lot of money just to be on the Wendouree mailing list, buying the privilege from others on the list, but most people get onto the list by volunteering as a picker, and it is one of those picking crews where you might be working alongside three lawyers and two heart specialists … I am delighted to say that Harry brought a couple of bottles of Wendouree when he came up for the opening - I can say that the old vineyard thoroughly deserves its reputation.
I mention this wine stuff as background to the exhibition, which shows a deep knowledge and understanding of the South Australian landscape, as well as the petits sensations of the long lazy afternoon drinking good red. Sherwin, like most artists, enjoys his food and wine, so the exhibition is really about things he knows well.
His work is highly regarded in South Australia in particular, and we have made some of the works in this exhibition available for sale.
Sherwin is completely uninfluenced by post modern trends and theories, and his work will appear conservative to many people.
However for those with eyes to see, his adherence to modernism is because he believes that many of the avenues explored by Picasso etc have still not been fully explored.
You will see much influence from the two masters Picasso and Matisse, but also of the giants upon which those artists stood -Vermeer, Daumier, and many others.