Sunday 3 July 2011, 2pm, Glen Eira City Council Gallery

Review by Cressida Fox



A large crowd of people turned up to enjoy the Artists' Floor talk and the artworks. President Robert Lee conducted the walk and talk around the gallery, drawing the crowd to the works of the prize winning and Highly Commended artists who were able to come to the floor talk, quoting from their statements in the exhibition catalogue, and inviting each of the artists present to talk about their works and creative processes – e.g., what influenced them; what methods and media did they employ when creating their works, and especially their prize winning work.


Starting with the Highly Commended artists, he then went on to the Special Prize winner (Special Prize for Most Innovative Use of Materials), then 3rd, 2nd & 1st Prize winners. Prize winning and Highly Commended artists present at Floor talk (in order of presentation):


Highly Commended - Erica Wagner - "Fay, One Autumn Day".

This painting was completed during a morning while the life model, Fay, moved to music. I tried to capture her flexibility, grace and movement, while simultaneously developing an abstract composition that worked in its own right. The whole experience actually felt like a meditation - just being in the moment.”

Erica talked about her subject, Fay the life model, who would move around to music, then stop for a minute, then move around again.


Highly Commended - Jenny Scholes - "Colours of Italy".

A recent trip to Lucca in Italy inspired this painting. Lucca with its pretty coloured villas is surrounded by a wide stone wall, and beyond the wall green meadows and vines and in the distance pencil pines stand up against the blueness of the sky.” Jenny was with her son, who was on a sabbatical at Lucca. She loved the vines, trees and the colours of the meadows, which she included as a backdrop to the city.


Highly Commended - John Gambardella - Streamlet of Miracles (Venice).

The works I have presented are from my Venice Connection series. Although different in application, the mediums used to reflect my works, I believe, have allowed me the freedom to capture and express the very essence of Venice; the romanticism, its many canals, and the connection to the Carnival.”

John went to Venice in 2008, after which he did a series of paintings on Venice. The Venice Festival 2010 sponsored him to do a further series. ‘Streamlet of Miracles’ is not for sale, as he hopes to show it in Venice. A realistic painter, he also works in oil pastels. For fine detail, he said, it is not an easy medium, but as it is an oil medium, it is still fluid.


Special Prize for Most Innovative Use of Materials - Rosemary Mangiamele – Tsunami.

“The darkness of the Tsunami earlier this year had a significant impact on me, and the light in this painting is the hope of the dawning of a new life.” Rosemary said this one started as a bigger work. The black and dark green images in the foreground depict the turmoil of damage caused by tsunami, with a turbulent yellow-orange sky above. Of her painting method, which she describes as intuitive, she said she does not have a fixed plan when she starts; it “just happens”.


Third Prize - Joy Elizabeth Lea - Crossed Wires.

Crossed Wires is part of my ‘Snakes and Ladders’ series of work undertaken in mixed media on paper. Crossed wires or communication problems may lead to a fall down the metaphorical ladder of life. The ascent begins again.”

Joy said that this work, as with her paintings of trees and forests, is still based on nature, and that she didn't set out to paint it; it came about as she went. It depicts crossed wires in dealing with various people over the years. The media used includes fine ink and brush work. As with Rosemary, she also works intuitively.


Second Prize - Kathe Bibi Ostermark - Black Hills of Dakota 1.

After a song by Doris Day from "Calamity Jane" - this is the way I see the hills in my mind's eye.” Kathe said that this song has been in her head forever, and “what else can I say …!” She used ink and acrylics in this work, and said that ink is nice to work with.


First Prize - Erica Wagner - Telling You the Story of my Life.

Inspired by the work of Romare Bearden, this image developed after seeing an old friend again after thirty years. It was surreal trying to summarise our lives. Aiming for a mood of crumpled reflection, I tore up photos of my studio, old paintings and a page from my 1982 diary.” Erica said that the person who inspired this work is an old friend with whom she reconnected after 30 years. She used collage and paint, including magazines, photos, paintings and books, and said she loves the freedom of ripping up these things and rearranging them. She also used pages from a diary she had written in 1982 when she was travelling. She complimented Robert on his beautiful ‘Mallacoota Mobile’, which she said she had rushed up to and purchased as soon as she got in the gallery door on Opening Night.


After the floor talk, Robert invited all present to continue to enjoy the exhibition and the refreshments provided. It was interesting to note that people were far more interested in the artworks and the Works On Paper folios than the refreshments!



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