A Sense of Place: Favourites from Artists Open Studios

Watt Fountain
Whanganui’s Watt Fountain, a memorial to the town’s first mayor, William Hogg Watt, constructed 1881.

With such a huge range of art by some very talented artists on offer, it isn’t easy to pick out favourites from Artists Open Studios, but I wanted to highlight the work of two artists whose work I particularly loved for their sense of place. Sadly, as photography is banned at AOS I’m unable to post pictures of the specific paintings that caught my eye, but I hope by giving a description and posting a few pictures which the artists in question have made available online that I’ll be able to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

The first work to catch my eye was ‘Victoria Avenue’ by Tina Drayton, who describes her work as ‘colourful and quirky artworks for everyone who wants joy and humour in their lives.’ ‘Victoria Avenue’ depicts the historic Watt Fountain on Whanganui’s Victoria Avenue with the tables of a local café, The Big Orange, in the background. It is indeed both colourful and quirky, but also instantly recognisable – a fact which was brought home as I was viewing it when a mother asked her daughter, who appeared to be about eight or nine, what it showed and she was able to answer correctly.

Another favourite was a large oil on board work painted in a much more traditional style by Don Hill, ‘Cattle On River Road’, which depicted two cattle being driven along a road in New Zealand’s bush by a horse-mounted drover and his two dogs. It was an evocative, early morning scene: as I sat before it I could almost smell the damp mulch of the bush, the barnyard reek of the animals; almost hear the earth-muffled clop of the horse’s hooves and perhaps its occasional snort. The clothing of the drover indicated that the piece was intended to be contemporary, but there was nonetheless a sense of timelessness: this could just as easily have been a scene from a hundred years ago. Looking at other examples of Don Hill’s work, such scenes seem to resonate with him, and with me.

Have you encountered a piece of art recently which really stirred something in you? If so, why not tell me about it, or even post a link.

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