Friday, August 2, 2013

Places : Tweed River Art Gallery

So, maybe this will be the first in a series about places I visit. Today was to the Tweed River Art Gallery in far northern NSW. Over this coming weekend I'm going to the Byron Bay Writers Festival and so I've come to nearby Lennox Head a few days early to stay with an old friend. Today we've pottered around the very scenic hinterland of these coastal areas, driving through the Barringbar Range and marvelling at the newly framed landscapes as each hill is crested.

The Tweed River Art Gallery near Murwillumbah is a wonderful place to spend a few hours. The Gallery building is suitably local with its verandahs, wire screens and corrugated walls:

Tweed River gallery entrance

The entrance is low-key and unpretentious, but the views that stretch out from the building are magnificent. Mount Warning, whose tip is the first part of the Australian continent touched by the sun each dawn, is to the west

Tweed River gallery west

and we had this northerly view towards Queensland before us as we ate lunch at the Gallery cafe

Tweed River Gallery north

The closer views included these sheep, grazing in the grounds surrounding the Gallery:

Tweed River gallery sheep

Just now the Gallery is exhibiting some huge paintings by Ben Quilty in an exhibition titled 'After Afghanistan'. Quilty is one of the most recent in a long tradition of official war artists appointed by the Australian War Memorial. In 2011 he visited Australian troops in Afghanistan where he made sketches and took photographs of the experience. Most of the works are portraits - some done after he returned to Australia and asked some of the men and women he'd encountered in Afghanistan to sit for him. While the sketches done in Afghanistan are intimate and often moving, the paintings, with their huge scale, thick surfaces and bold strokes evoke not only power and strength but also horror and empathy for the experiences of the paintings' subjects.

There is also currently an exhibition of prints by George Baldessin, an Australian artist who died in 1978 aged only 39. He is probably best known for his beautiful sculptures of pears at the entrance to the National Gallery in Canberra, but I had also been aware of his print-making as he had taught one of my artist friends. She greatly admired Baldessin's work. I enjoyed the opportunity to see so many of his works together.

Tweed River gallery program

The Galley is being extended to accommodate the Margaret Olley Art Centre that will honour Olley's wish that her artist's studio and elements of her home be re-created in a purpose-built extension to the Tweed River Art Gallery. This seems to me to be a great coup for the Gallery and I imagine will bring many visitors to view the rooms that are almost as famous at the artist herself. Margaret Olley was subject of many renowned portraits across her long artistic life and the gallery has an exhibition of works by Nicholas Harding entitled 'Drawing Margaret Olley'. As a protege of Olley, Nicolas Harding had the opportunity from 1997 to 2003 to make many drawings of Olley and her surroundings. These drawings give a taste of the pleasures to come when the Centre is opened.

A great place to visit.


gemma said...

Im about to got to Ballina for a visit with my mum, and I did not know about this gallery until today, thank you Lyn, very much looking forward now to an excursion.

Unknown said...

What a joy to read this post. Tim and Mike, his sister Gabrielle and I had a superb day of driving around those very hills. We visited the Gallery and those same exhibitions. Fantastic!! As you say it is a wonderful Gallery set in a breath-taking setting. Barb

Lynne said...

Ben Quilty was the subject of a documentary that screened on the ABC last year and a sequel was shown earlier this year. He is one of many artists that have painted a portrait of Margaret Olley and I gather she became very supportive of Ben and his work. Thank you for sharing about this gallery -- not that I imagine I will be up that way any time soon but it will be something to keep in mind.