An Exhibition of Landscape, Flora and Fauna Watercolours by Canberra Region artist Helen Fitzgerald.
Exhibition Opening Sunday 5th May, 2013 at 11am
By The Hon. Steve Whan, MLC
Shadow Minister for Resources and Primary Industries, Tourism Major Events Hospitality and Racing and Rural Water
Exhibition continues until 9 June, 2013.
Over recent years Helen Fitzgerald has pursued a program of extended visits to outback parts of the Australian environment. Treading both sides of life as a landscape and botanical artist,
her trips to the source are essential in the pursuit of capturing the true nature of the landscape and its flora and fauna.
Trips in 2012 to outback Birdsville and its famed ‘track’, her annual Lockhart botanical field trip to the Galore Hill Arboretum area complete with students and a 9000km odyssey to Albany in West Australia have ‘recharged my artistic batteries.’
These forays into the heart of this vast and ancient, yet colourful land have brought to Helen’s renewed attention the absolute beauty of the true colours of Australia. Our largest island continent not only exhibits, in its own special brand of light, the vivid coastal and hinterland beauty rich in greens, blues and yellows but also it’s unique red heartland that, while not often seen by most Australians, has long been home to many first Australians. The colours here are of the earth, rich in the eroded and weathered landscape to the point that the detritus of that reductive activity itself forms its unique colours.
In wanting to reproduce this palette in her latest body of works, Helen decided to go about making her medium from the original materials – the ochres.
With the exception of cobalt blue they are made by grinding up clays, charcoal and ochres gathered from the New South Wales, Victorian and South Australian landscapes. The colours are provided by iron oxides in the soil, the white from white clay, the black from charcoal. The ‘mud’ is ground and mixed with the traditional binder, gum arabic, to make a durable and lightfast watercolour paint.
Some grittiness is apparent due to the hand grinding of the ochres. These paintings are truly tactile and tangible pieces of Australia.
In this exhibition Helen combines both her new landscape techniques with exquisitely detailed and beautifully rendered botanical representations of the Australian flora and fauna for which she has received numerous prestigious National and International awards. Among these are the Gold Medal of the Royal Horticultural Society and recognition by the Society of Floral Painters both in the UK,
and she is a long time member of the American Society of Botanical artists. This is Helen’s seventh solo exhibition at the Gallery.
Helen Fitzgerald is an experienced artist and teacher with degrees in Applied Science and Art Education, and has studied overseas at the Universities of Vienna and Perugia in Italy. Helen was first accepted for the Wynne Prize exhibition in Sydney when she was just nineteen. She moved to Queanbeyan in 1972 teaching in various Canberra institutions including the Canberra School of Art and nine years at the Faculty of Applied Science at Canberra University.
Stan d’Argeavel MA(Visual Arts)