This year was the second year for two new annual festivals in Benalla, 'Benalla Rugged Up' in August, and 'the Window to Window' Christmas Festival in December. Like the Wall to Wall Festival in April, Benalla Rugged Up and Window to Window encourage the community to 'See the art in everything', which is the vision of Benalla Rural City's tourism strategy.
While 'Benalla Rugged Up' caused a flutter on social media, a veritable storm of activity developed surrounding the art work of NEA founder and president Tim Bowtell on Benalla Rural City's Mair Street window during'Window to Window' .. Picked up early by Sky News, also appearing in the Daily Mail in the UK, it was pleasing to see reports over the following days on regional television stations becoming better informed and balanced,
Discussions have continued, with most of the Letters to the Editor (three pages) in this week's Benalla Ensign about Tim's painting -- nearly all of which were positive!
Tim's compelling portrait of Greta Thunberg, draws from and is representative of Tim's current work. Tim describes being surprised that around 90% of people who spoke to him while he was painting weren't aware of Greta Thunberg, and is pleased that his work has acted as such a catalyst for conversations about climate change.
The announcement by Time Magazine of Greta as their Person of the Year a few days into the controversy on social media proved a wonderful endorsement of Tim's choice of a portrait of Greta for his window.
Here are two of the later reports from mainstream media, the first featuring an interview with Tim at NEA.
The second item from 9 News Border North East includes responses by Renewable Energy Benalla's John Lloyd and Benalla Sustainable Future Group's President Peter Holmes
An occasional BLog
Realizing that the 'In Your Face' NEA Portrait Prize 2019 exhibition would be more expensive to run than previous exhibitions, the Exhibitions Team sought additional funding to ease the financial burden on North East Artisans.
We would like to acknowledge funding of $500 from Benalla Rural City's Community Sponsorship July funding round and the donation of $350 from V-Line Benalla staff community fund.
With a much larger prize on offer next year for the new biennial Contemporary Art Prize, our fundraising net will need to spread further, however we are thrilled to have received these contributions in support of 'In Your Face'
Thank you so much Benalla Rural City and V-Line Benalla Station!
'I am too uncomfortably familiar with fire in the bush and, in this painting, attempt to show its destructive and fearful nature. Yet, also, I'm searching for a Phoenix quality as with fire comes rebirth'
Mervyn Beamish has exhibited at NEA for the past three years and shares a studio at NEA with his partner Irina Korotkow.
Mervyn has drawn and painted since childhood. He studied at East Sydney Technical College and then the National Art School, exhibiting at a number of galleries in the Eastern States of Australia after graduating. His career took him into industrial and trade exhibition design, multimedia and film production and a 30+ career as a freelance writer. Mervyn returned to full time painting in 2006.
Merv has run workshops in art and writing, is a published author and occasional resident artist. He has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in New York, Germany, Poland and Australia. His works are in both local and international private collections including Egypt, Malta, UK, USA and Germany.
Interview with North East Artisan's Mervyn Beamish
In 2018 artwork by a number of NEA artists was exhibited in the foyer display window of the Rural City of Benalla offices in Bridge Street, part of an arts bank like project inspired and facilitated by Benalla's Mayor, Councillor Don Firth. Works by Tim Bowtell, Jamie Ferguson, Frank Burgers and Julie Burdis featured in the small gallery space near the lift in 2018..
With the Council requiring the display window for Benalla Festival's 'Our Backyard' and Christmas exhibitions at the end of the year, a change of venue was arranged to the Sir Edward 'Weary' Dunlop Learning Centre in Fawckner Drive. Janet Leith's 'The Arborist' and 'The Stripey Bike Rider' have now been on display there for a number of weeks.
Recently Janet visited the library to see her work on exhibition, meeting the new librarian along the way. If you are in the library, have a look at Janet's paintings on the wall towards the back of the library.
An occasional BLog
October is Benalla Show time! Showing in the Benalla Rural City Council's 'Foyer Gallery' during October - Julie Burdis' 'My Chooks'. A number of NEA artisans enter their work in categories including textiles, painting, jewellery and can be overheard discussing their entries at this time of the year.. Other NEA members, including Carla Gardner and Julie Burdis, have a passion for chooks. Julie's passion is evident in her painting "My Chooks' and her accompanying artist statement.
"Born during World War II in Yorkshire, families were encouraged by the government to use their gardens for growing food and keeping chickens. One of the chickens became bonded to me and would come into the house, jump up on the back of a chair and look down on me in my crib.
I was only told about this in later life as whenever I saw chickens I would smile and always intended when I got older that I would breed them.
Building my first chook house, I had read somewhere that chickens couldn't see blue. The pole in the middle of the house was painted blue and I sat back waiting to see if they would smack into it. They didn't! Of course they could see it, but if asked would not have been able to tell you the colour!
I had heard that listening to Mozart could make you more intelligent and so played him to them. Didn't seem to have any effect. I tried opera and they jumped out of their skin.
I decided that visual art might be the way to go.'
Artist Statement and 'Occasional Blog' by Julie Burdis
*Cards featuring Julie's painting 'My Chooks' are available at NEA.
Currently showing in the Rural City of Benalla's window 'Foyer Gallery' - Frank Burger's 'Coin Counter I' and 'Coin Counter 2' from his 'Coin Counter' series.
Frank Burger's ‘Coin Counter’ series
The drawings are 100x70cm, framed to about 120x90cm. There are 3 in the series, all charcoal, pastel and gouache on Fabriano Rosapina paper.
'Coin Counter 1', 'Coin Counter 2', and 'An economy of sheep’.
Coin Counters are the metal tubes used to 'prop up' the subject matter in two of the drawings. They are components of coin rolling machines from my 'Armaguard' days: coins are fed into a chute at the top of the machine, then fall down into the 'coin counters' where a laser light shines through a hole, counts the coins and stops the flow of coins before lowering the stack of coins down for paper wrapping.
In my drawings these components symbolized the economic nature of society, which, in relation with the other objects depicted, made for interesting metaphors and interpretations of meaning.
The third drawing,'An economy of sheep' continues this conversation with different still life objects.It was completed somewhat later (2011-2012), and shares with the other two the same media, technique and intention.
To clarify, Coin Counter 1 has the boat, Coin Counter 2 has the elephant, An economy of sheep has the kitchen scales and sheep skull.
Expressions of interest in piloting use of 'floating studio' space at NEA. NEA is currently considering a new studio option - NEA would provide secure storage for your art materials for a modest monthly fee and allow you access to NEA workshop spaces during business hours to practice your art/craft. No bookings required, however you are limited to using workshop spaces when not in use otherwise. A number of artists have indicated they are willing to allow their studio spaces to be used when they are not there, provided these spaces are given due respect and left in the same condition as they were found. Fine tuning of the proposed offer is in process. Contact Frank Burgers or Seamus Foley at NEA (or via pigeon hole) for more information.
Expressions of interest are open for artists wishing to display their work in the Council Offices front window in Bridge St. See Tim Bowtell or Frank Burgers (0488676127).
New 2D work is urgently required for a rehang in gallery 1 and 2 to keep NEA looking fresh and exciting, particularly from those artists who haven't provided new work in the last 3 months.. Please let Frank (0488676127) or Tim know what you've brought in.
The second exhibit chosen by Mayor Don Firth for hanging in the window exhibition space at the Benalla Rural City Offices is a colourful yet contemplative work by Jamie Ferguson. On display for a month, Jamie's work will soon be changed over to highlight the work of another NEA artist.
If you visit the council offices, it's worth spending a moment viewing the artwork in the exhibition space just near the lift. Otherwise, the best viewing is at night when the exhibition space is lit up, highlighting the artwork from the street.
Tim Bowtell's 'Asha' portrait the first of a series of artwork by NEA artists on display at the Benalla Rural City Council Offices in Bridge Street
Over the coming months artwork by a NEA artist will be exhibited in the display window of the Rural City of Benalla offices in Bridge Street. This is the result of an arts bank like leasing project inspired and facilitated by Benalla's Mayor, Councillor Don Firth.
The first painting, on display in the Council window, is Tim Bowtell's portrait of 'Asha'. .
Tim Bowtell loves to paint all manner of subjects and executes them in the most appropriate medium.
Tim is fascinated by building and architectural images – many of his works reflect this. Paintings of buildings of local interest – the Benalla Council Chambers prior to restoration; BPACC; the signal box near the railway station, are now in private collections.
Tim’s interest in social issues is reflected in works including his acquisitive prize winning painting for the 2016 Tatong Art Show ‘Chinese New Era’; the Gandhi wall opposite NEA; (Wall to Wall Festival 2016) and his thought provoking 'Sticks and Stones' wall on the railway side of the 'Primal' gym building (Wall to Wall Festival 2017). Tim's latest wall (on the library side of the Benalla Senior Citizens Community Centre has roots in his reaction to watching documentary film 'Cowspiracy'.(Wall to Wall Benalla 2018).
Street Art painting has taken a grip since Tim had the opportunity to paint a mural in the 2016 Benalla Wall to Wall festival. Tim enjoys creating aerosol works on canvas as well as on walls and enjoys the challenge of commissioned work. His commissioned works at the Mokoan rest stop and Winton Wetlands are much admired.
Tim works from his open studio at NEA.
'Asha' Tim Bowtell 200cm x 150cm
An occasional BLog.
Wall to Wall Benalla Festival
Benalla Street Art Map to 2017
Wots4Me Benalla Youth
Juddy Roller Wall to Wall
Benalla Art Gallery
Shepparton Art Museum
Goulburn and North East Arts Alliance (GANEAA)
Wangaratta Art Gallery
Benalla Camera Club
Broken River Potters
Broken River Painters
Table Top Games at NEA