• Helen Stephens

On line for all time?

It’s a possibility. As a friend said recently, we are all learning so much about running our businesses on line. We are all adapting to the changes brought about by Corona Virus and the consequent lockdown. But, what will we miss?

Our current exhibition, Stephen Harrison’s, The Blue Thylacine, 24 ink and wash drawings and two sculptures, was launched on line on May 3. Right away we had enquiries to purchase work from the exhibition. And more followed. It is heartening that Stephen’s friends and supporters are meeting the challenge of this time and we thank them.

I must say I had my doubts when we realised we would not be able to have the traditional exhibition opening with the buzz of a crowd filling the gallery and socialising in the garden, wandering in and out, drink in hand and, after careful consideration, perhaps consulting with a friend or partner, the hand went up to buy an artwork.

At such openings it is usual to invite someone to open the exhibition and everyone pauses and pays attention to the carefully thought out words and phrases, championing the art and the artist. And then, job done and congratulations all round, the buzz returns, glasses are refilled and the afternoon gets down to the serious business of socialising.

For the artist, it is a warm and fuzzy feeling and confirmation that all the hours in the studio and then taking that next step of getting it out there, has been worthwhile and, in fact, enjoyable.

Stephen has said: “Drawing for me is like a window into my subconscious mind: a

place where anything goes, a place where my ink pen and wash brush roams free. These

drawings could be about all extinct animals, especially the ones that have died due to

human interaction. Our remaining mammals and birds really need our protection.”

Stephen Harrison, le reve, ink and wash on paper. D. 21x30cm

Stephen began his formal art training in the 1980s at the Canberra School of Art in the Graphic Investigation Workshop under the tutelage of Petr Herel. Stephen says: ”Petr imparted a European literature based sensibility to us, often working to writers such as Kafka, Dostoyevsky, Shakespeare, Beckett and the like. There was an emphasis on revealing the subconscious mind, the metaphysical and the mystical, in our drawing- based artwork. As a young Australian artist this training was invaluable and continues to this day.

Stephen Harrison, Two blue thylacine, plaster, paint. D. 60x25x18cm

Later he explored sculpture and back at art school undertook a Masters Degree. “Sculpture

inhabits a physical space, it carries a beat, a pulse, that can really engage people in a

unique way. It has an equalising effect, as evinced by the crowds at events like Sculpture by

the Sea and is the most non-snooty of the arts.

“Of all the hard work, the gruelling, dirty backbreaking labour that makes up sculpture, for me, it is the most satisfying. There’s a real feeling of accomplishment in installing a final piece, months in the making, the engineering complete, the final touches added, that has a strong physical presence, that reacts with the environment, the sky and the ground.

Although drawing will always be my first and main love, sculpture is coming a close second!”

And after all we may not miss the excitement of an exhibition opening, instead we are planning an exhibition closing event on Sunday, May 31. We will keep you informed.


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