Two of a Mind

  • Don Burrows, Mindi Engonnia NSW
  • Prue Acton Lemons & Objects
  • Jason Che After Rain
  • Richard Morecroft Curve Pool
  • Elizabeth Hawkes Iris II
  • Merv Moriarty Amy as Psyche

6 Artists with more than one pursuit in mind
17 July – 22 August, 2009 

Fashion Designer PRUE ACTON OBE - painting;
Australian Living Treasure, Musician DON BURROWS AO MBE - photography;
Restaurateur JASON CHEN - traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy;
Magazine Publisher, Photographer & Graphic designer ELIZABETH HAWKES - painting ;
Former ABC News Presenter RICHARD MORECROFT - photography;
Arts Educator & Author MERV MORIARTY, drawing.

Opened Saturday 18th July by Antony Coote AM
Exhibition in association with Capital Magazine and Artsound FM 92.7 Canberra


Two of a Mind is an exhibition featuring 6 artists who have gained public recognition in their respective careers as musician, restaurateur, publisher/graphic designer/photographer and TV presenter.

Prue Acton Don Burrows, Jason Chen, Elizabeth Hawkes, Richard Morecroft and Merv Moriarty are six of a rare group of multi-talented and creative people who have turned their minds to a second pursuit, a change of direction, and at times a parallel complementary line of thinking in their lives.

Don Burrows and Richard Morecroft are photographers working in different mediums and achieving touching and spectacular imagery. Don works in traditional and digital black and white images showcasing many of the places he has visited and people he has either met or come across around the world. His mind works in parallel using common aspects in both his music and photography like colour, tone, texture, mood, composition, balance, contrast and rhythm.

Richard’s images are of the places he draws inspirations from the natural, often wild environment. Whether it be the coast or the bush his vertical portrait format images turn the notion of landscape on its head, both physically and metaphorically. His attention to depth of field applies not only to the photographic term of maintaining sharp focus from extreme foreground to the visible horizon but also the portrayal of the totality of the view of the specific slice of landscape he is presenting.

Elizabeth Hawkes and Jason Chen are painters from opposite ends of the West/ East spectrum. Liz works in the traditions of still life and portraiture with spectacular bursts of colour depicting detailed, as well as mildly abstracted, points of view of her subjects. Drawing from wide experience in photography and art direction there comes a wide range of subject matter, people, places, things, architecture and so on. Like most painters and particularly photographers it’s an obsession with light that drives Liz in her artistic pursuit.

Jason is a traditional Chinese painter and calligrapher comfortable on the world stage and within the Chinese community on three continents. He uses traditional media such as ink and muted watercolours and combines his calligraphy with his landscapes to produce imagery abundant in Eastern romanticism. Jason’s paintings capture a naturally occurring world in a mythologised ethereal way heavily linked to his personal ethnic origins.

Prue Acton and Merv Moriarty are life partners and live on the Far South Coast of NSW. She was one of Australia’s leading fashion designers and he was an established artist and art educator by the end of the 1960’s. Prue works in still life and finds sheer joy in “feeling the rhythm of the land and form” and the way light and colour change as it spills over her subjects and informs the work that transcends into the her beautifully executed paintings.

Merv Moriarty is a multi major art prize winner and finalist who broke away from the Colour Field movement to return to more figurative work. He is drawn to the human body form that has played such a major role in art history, with Life Drawing a very popular and valuable pursuit for training and experienced artists alike. Merv continues a long career as art educator and author with his book The Eyes Mind - the artist and the draftsman and a new book Colour for Artists will be published in the near future.

Two of a Mind is a celebration of personal diversity and a graphic display drawing from both sides of the most powerful forces in the universe – the human brain.

Stan d’Argeavel - Exhibition Coordinator

Prue Acton

Prue Acton, once a household name for her Internationally successful fashion business is now a respected painter - a colourist - spending most of her mornings painting and drawing in the secluded home she shares with fellow artist and partner Merv Moriarty, at Wallagoot on the far south coast of NSW.

Passionate about ‘green’ issues she is an activist for the protection of the Australian landscape. Prue says it’s hard to put an economic value on the beauty of the Australian wilderness, but she’s working on it. Beauty is her driving force and principal, being brought up with her mother’s sense of beauty. “Every book placed on the table; the way she dressed; set the dining table and arranging the flowers were considered acts of beauty.”

During the 1970s she started to get her colours and inspiration for her designs from the environment. In Melbourne in the 1980s her last fashion collections were based on the Australian landscape.

Prue and Merv’s northern boundary lies about fifty metres from their house and crosses over into the Bournda National Park. She is convinced the ocean is indeed a different colour south of Bermagui and is relishing the cultured company of the artists and Gallery owners who have also discovered the
undeveloped coastal district. Prue has become a central figure in the local art scene.

She concentrates on still life paintings, saying that physically painting still life is hard work and she is fascinated by light and colour, and the way it falls on the forms. “The objects express who you are, so in a strange way they’re natural.”

She does not miss the fashion world that she dominated for three decades and is now happiest in her studio wearing army pants and cotton t-shirts which represents the gold, red and greens of the
Australian bush.

Jason Chen

Jason Chen was born in Zhongshan in Guangdong Province in China and immigrated to Australia in 1974. Since his arrival in Canberra, he has managed his family business, Happy’s Chinese Restaurant, one of Canberra’s most popular cultural dining destinations, until his retirement in mid 2008.

Jason studied painting at the Canberra School of Art (now ANU School of Art) in the early 1980s and his artworks have since been exhibited in numerous International art exhibitions in China, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Korea, the USA and Australia.

He was first selected for the “Contemporary Chinese Art Exhibition” at the Art Gallery of NSW in 1985 and the International Year of the Youth Art Exhibition in Beijing. He has exhibited every year since somewhere around the globe. Highlights include winning the Gold Medal at the 2nd Jitai Cup Chinese Painting and Calligraphy Exhibition in Nanjing, China, he won the Art Store prize at Canberra’s Art Workshop 50th Anniversary Exhibition in 1998, exhibited in the 2000 National Combined Exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, the First International Famous Artists Exhibition of Calligraphy and Painting in Los Angeles and the Exhibition of International Alliance of Calligraphy and Culture at the Malaysian National Art Gallery.

From 1995 to 1997, Jason was invited to take part in art exhibitions of the Canberra Multicultural Festival and his landscape painting the ‘Dingo Fence’ is now held in the collection of the National Museum of Australia.

In 2008 his work was selected for the Worldwide Chinese Artists’ Painting and Calligraphy Exhibition held in China to celebrate the Beijing Olympics auspiced by the Chinese Literature and Art Union and the Chinese Artists’ and Calligrapher’s Associations. In the past 10 years, he has held a number of solo and group exhibitions in Canberra and Australia .

Jason’s work for Two of a Mind comprises ink and watercolours on paper and combines the world of
Traditional Chinese Painting and Calligraphy.

Don Burrows

Don Burrows has been treading the boards as a professional musician for 65 years. In 1973 the twice named Australian Living Treasure received the first Gold Record ever awarded to an Australian jazz
musician, instigated the first Jazz studies program in the Southern Hemisphere at the NSW Conservatorium of Music and was awarded an MBE.

In 1987 he was awarded the Order of Australia (AO) and in 2000 received the coveted Sir Bernard Heinze Award for service to Australia, a rare honour for a musician. In the same year he was awarded the first of his three honorary doctorates.

But the honour he treasures most is the title of Special Ambassador of Photography to Children bestowed on him by the Photographic Imaging Council of Australia (PICA). His 1995 Keating Creative Arts Fellowship resulted in many trips to outback schools and alongside his musical instruments were his photographs taken in the many countries where he played with and befriended people like Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie and Nat King Cole. He found interest high among the children, many of whom have since displayed ability in both music and photography.

The simplest of cameras, the Kodak Box Brownie, was his starting point in photography at age 11. He joined the Sans Souci and Carringbah Camera Clubs well before the advent of the medium in art schools. The camera club movement provided regular forums for the development of well-informed and practiced amateur photography.

While his music flourished and made him famous around the world, Don entered countless
competitions. He learned what a good photograph should look like and this became part of his way of life, working in parallel with his musical development over the next 50 years.

Now in semi-retirement Don still regularly plays his brand of music as well as continuing to inspire young people to his world of music and image making. The work in this exhibition reflects many of the far flung places his music has taken him to around the world.

Richard Morecroft

Richard Morecroft is perhaps best known in Australia for his work in television, particularly anchoring the ABC nightly news and for several years as host of ‘Richard Morecroft Goes Wild!’ the weekly national wildlife programme.

He has been a long-time trustee of the World-wide Fund for Nature (WWF), is a patron of WIRES (the Wildlife Information and Rescue Service), a Governor of the Taronga Zoo Foundation and one of the
Directors of the Zoological Parks Board of NSW. His interest in the arts is also reflected in his appointment to the Board of Bundanon, the creative centre donated to the nation by the late Arthur Boyd.

After 20 years of nightly TV news, Richard decided in 2001 it was time for more variety in his professional life. With his base in Jervis Bay, Richard has taken the opportunity to pursue his long-time fascination with landscape photography.

“I’m fascinated by the processes which produce structure and pattern in geological and biological
environments. As you examine the detail, you can see repeated motifs, like variations on a musical theme. Erosion, sedimentation, fractal patterns of vegetation growth or mineral formation – there’s a clear sense of common forces at work; universal rules of structure from micro to macro.”

For some years he has used a vertical format for his images of the landscape, exploring a cross-section of the elements in each location, from detail to distance. These vertical portraits offer an alternative to the convention of landscape as a broad, horizontal view. The photographs celebrate the recurring patterns and formative influences of the natural world - a vision of the environment where every element, large and small, is recognised as significant. From details of texture, structure and pattern, through to the larger vistas beyond, the complex resonance of wild places is a constant source of inspiration for his imagery.

Richard’s work is held in private collections in Australia, the US and Europe. His photographs from the South Coast region of NSW hang in the boardroom of the State Minister for Tourism and several of his images have been acquired for the Art Collection of the Federal Parliament.

Elizabeth Hawkes

Magazine publisher, professional photographer, graphic designer, illustrator and fine artist – Elizabeth Hawkes – is a highly respected and experienced visual artist. Elizabeth’s portraiture photography has been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery of Australia and her general magazine photography work is acknowledged as the best of its genre.

A graphic designer and art director, Elizabeth started the successful Highlife Magazine in the Southern Highlands. After the sale of Highlife and a five-year stint living and working in the Noosa Hinterland, Elizabeth and her family moved to Canberra where she started Capital Magazine, the lifestyle magazine for the Canberra Region.

But it is painting that Elizabeth calls “her true calling”. She started painting as a child winning her first art prize at the age of nine and topping the State (NSW) for her Year 12 major work – a portrait of her grandfather.

Since Elizabeth started exhibiting her paintings at the Discovery Centre in Noosa Heads (she was one of the gallery’s most sought after artists) she has been committing more and more time to her art.

She has most recently been painting in Canberra with Roy Churcher in a regular group he organises, plus attending drawing workshops at the National Portrait Gallery and Canberra Art Workshop. Last year she won best in show at the Canberra Art Workshop’s 60th Anniversary exhibition.

Elizabeth says that her “day job” as a professional photographer influences her painting. She likes working with natural light and pure colours. Her style is realistic and not confrontational and demonstrates a highly developed sense of technical and visual competency.

Elizabeth’s reputation as a distinguished photographer and magazine publisher is already creating considerable interest in her work as a painter.

Merv Moriarty

Based on 50 years of experience and research much of the knowledge recorded and taught by Merv
Moriarty has been lost in today’s art schools, in the pursuit of ‘trend’. Yet without skills, how can artists and designers develop their own ‘hand’?

In his books “The Eyes Mind - the artist and the draftsman” and “Colour for Artists,” Merv introduces knowledge, ideas and exercises that give a firm understanding of the principles that underpin colour and form, enabling the creation of personal vision. Merv’s books and workshops are attracting students from around Australia.

Merv Moriarty has been a practicing artist all his life, exhibiting in major galleries in most Australian
capital cities. His work has covered a wide range of approaches, partly due to his arrival on the art scene as a young man coinciding with a major shift in art practice, from the established traditional realism, to figurative expressionism, then later to abstract art.

Like many committed artists of his generation, his art evolved in sync with the changing art movements of the time. Now that present day attitudes to art practice are more inclined to encourage artists to work in a genre that best suits them, Merv’s broad experience, both technically and philosophically, is of great value to his students.

Merv is a major art prize-winner and finalist who broke away from the Colour Field movement to return to more figurative work. He is drawn to the human form that has played such an important role in art history. Life Drawing continues to be a very popular and valuable pursuit for training and experienced artists alike.

Merv’s work is represented in major public collections including the Queensland and NSW Art Galleries,
Allegheny College USA, Syracuse University USA, Pale Ontological Research Institution USA, Brisbane City Art Gallery, the Gold Coast Collection, Art Bank Australia, Darnell Collection University of QLD and the Brisbane College of Advanced Education Collections.

Thursday 16 April 2009