Well known local artist Val Allen is captivated and inspired by the natural world. Her latest exhibition, Autumn, can be viewed at the Glasshouse Regional Gallery until April 28 and is the artist’s personal response to a season that captures cooler temperatures and falling leaves …
Hi Val. You were born and primarily educated in Sydney but moved to Port Macquarie in 1986. What is it about the Hastings area that you most enjoy?
Before retirement and during several years living on a small property at Wingham, my husband and I enjoyed some delightful short trips to Port Macquarie, finally deciding to live here permanently.
The natural environment of the Hastings area with the bush adjacent to the sea and the mild climate is exceptional. We were very grateful to be able to choose this area, where there have been so many changes since arriving here in 1986.
At that time, the transition was not difficult, when there were paddocks around close to town and many birds to be seen while living a short distance from Lighthouse Beach.
You’ve received art tuition over the years from several tutors, including John Wolseley and Robert Grieve. What are some of the most valuable lessons you learned about art through tuition (as opposed to learning through actual art practice)?
As far as tuition is concerned, the practice of creating work is so personal, though some guidance in the early stages by experienced artist/teachers is of great assistance.
Discussion with varied points of view stimulates new ideas and hopefully individual results. Finally, that decision as to whether the work is finished – only the creator can say. As one teacher said, “Stop painting before you think it is quite finished, and leave a little unsaid for the imagination”.
Your art appears to be influenced by nature … What is it about the natural world that moves you most and inspires you to create?
The natural environment is a never ending source of inspiration for me. With every day, time of day, sounds, light, rain, renewal, on and on …The bark of eucalypts gradually shedding and exposing so much colour on massive trunks and often a koala which can be seen on my little patch, almost hidden.
You’ve held quite a few solo exhibitions over the years, at galleries in Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, and prior to this in Sydney. How do you prepare for an exhibition – and how much pressure is it to paint to a deadline?
As far as exhibition preparation, it is a personal choice as to whether this is contemplated before starting. Some artists work well under some pressure, and others do not.
When is a collection really ready for showing? Is there a gallery pleased to show it?
I think most would agree that this opportunity to have a show at the Glasshouse is greatly appreciated, and which I hope will give some pleasure. We are so fortunate in this area to have such a wonderful venue for the arts in general.
What materials/media do you most like to use in your work (and why)?
As far as materials used, it is also stimulating and usually rewarding to try new ways of expression with various materials available. This variety also promotes different ways of expression, but also needs much practice and experimentation.
The journey is always an exciting one, with a few disasters along the way! In this exhibition I have used acrylic paint, which I find can be so adaptable.
Describe some of your work from your upcoming exhibition at the Glasshouse, which is titled Autumn …
The only way I can describe the work in this exhibition, as earlier mentioned, is a response to being a part of this exciting area. Autumn is about this time of year, a lovely time with the heat of summer waning and leaves floating around. May I quote Leunig’s poem:
“If I get old
I’ll turn to gold
And orange brown or red;
The wind will blow
And I’ll let go
And float out of my bed,
I’ll flutter up across the sky
Beyond this world of grief;
Away up high I’m going to fly:
A great big autumn leaf.”
Thanks Val. Interview by Jo Robinson.