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Art scene 08

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Galah's art editor Fiona Bateman cherrypicks new works by Australian contemporary artists.

  1. Shirley Purdie, Massacre Birds

A leader of the Warmun community, Shirley Purdie paints on Gija country, between Broome and Kununurra in Western Australia. This beautiful painting has similarities to one of my favourite pieces by Madigan Thomas, Purdie’s mother and one of her many inspirations. Birds perch lightly in the tree as if stuck on as a decoration, giving the most delightfully cheerful impression of cockies.

@olsen_gallery @warmunart @shortstgallery

Massacre Birds (2022), natural ochre and pigment on canvas, 45 x 45 cm

  1. Emily Heath, You In Everything

As a student working towards a fine arts degree at the National Art School, Emily Heath explores memories through still-life. “It’s always a playful exchange between me and the objects,” she says. “I enjoy walking a line between accurate representation and abstraction, forever in pursuit of capturing that inexplicable emotional response that is so time- and place-specific it only continues living inside the painting.”


You In Everything (2023), oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm

3. Eleanor Millard, A Weekend Away

“I try to paint the stillness of the now, with all of its sound. The sound of silence; the sound of stillness,” says Eleanor Millard, who lives and works in the Victorian coastal town of Port Fairy. This work achieves that ambition, the strong sense of calm infusing a scene we can all picture ourselves escaping into or have perhaps already visited in our imagination. 

@eleanormillard @wagnercontemporary @saltcontemporaryart

A Weekend Away (2023), acrylic on Dutch aquatint paper,
76 x 98 cm

  1. Amber Wallis, Yellow and Blue Interior and Houseplant Part Two

I couldn’t adore Amber Wallis’ work more. With her delicate touch, Wallis perfectly achieves her desire “to hold the lightness and strength of femininity” in her work. Through gossamer layers and folds, we glimpse hidden figures and structures within this beautiful piece. 

@amberrosewallis @nicholasthompsongallery @janmurphygallery

Yellow and Blue Interior and Houseplant Part Two (2023), oil on linen, 160 x 180 cm

  1. Alan Jones, Painting 317 (Coopers Shoot)

The impressive vista of rolling hills and distant ocean seen from the hinterland above Byron Bay has become a series of small-scale, intimate snapshots that suggests Alan Jones is very familiar with this landscape. The lone pine next to what appears to be a driveway asks us to step in close and experience the calm that is synonymous with this beautiful part of northern New South Wales.

@a.jones_2019 @olsen_gallery

Painting 317 (Coopers Shoot) (2023), acrylic on board, 80 x 60 cm

  1. Lydia Balbal, Martakulu

I would be happy to cover entire walls in Lydia Balbal’s paintings. She’s a Mangala woman, and her country is near Punmu, in the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia. The deft use of colour, often softened with white and layering techniques, is what gives her work its sense of composure and distinctive beauty. She often works in prolific bursts after being inspired by travelling through her country. 


Martakulu (2023), acrylic on linen, 75 x 92 cm

  1. Gemma Rasdall, The Homestead

Even the canvas Gemma Rasdall uses for her paintings is connected to her way of life: she lives on a yacht (a 1982 Niagara 35 called Frida) currently moored at Scotland Island, in the Pittwater estuary on the northern outskirts of Sydney, and frequently paints on recycled sailcloth. This painting is inspired by an old photo of a homestead and sprawling orchard in nearby Lovett Bay.


The Homestead (2023), acrylic and charcoal on sailcloth, 53 x 63 cm

  1. Jake Walker, Architecturally designed home 

Hobart-based artist Jake Walker creates small-scale works with the glorious tactility of the handmade. He will often use found canvases and board for his works and then finishes each piece with a ceramic frame. His works are littered with symbols referencing his name and the date of each work, which adds to the unique handmade quality of each piece.

@jake_walker_art @stationgalleryaustralia

Architecturally designed home (2023), oil on linen, 56.5 x 61 cm.

If you'd like to get in touch with Galah's art editor Fiona Bateman, find her over on @fionabatemanart