Friday, September 13, 2013

Dungog Artist Profile - Simone Turner-Ryan - Realism, The Queen of Sheba and Two Red Kelpies - INTERVIEWS

Winner of the 2013 Lesley Skinner Traditional Landscape prize, Dungog based artist Simone Turner-Ryan chats to Paul Andrew about childhood memory, her dislike of " man made objects" and her passion for John Gould and dogs.

Do you have a vivid childhood memory about art, a time and place when art made a distinctive impression on you?
My first trip to the New South Wales Art Gallery, as a girl from the bush walking through the large rooms of the gallery, looking at the usual Melbourne male heroes, when suddenly I came around a corner and  looked into a gold framed room. The Visit by the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon, by Sir Edward John Poynter (1836 – 1919).  I can’t resist it.

Did you grow up in a family and home setting where art was a way of life?

Growing up, we were all use to physical work, cutting firewood, barking and splitting fence posts on weekends and school holidays. During school holidays we also spent a lot of time on a sheep and cattle property called Mernot, near Gloucester, NSW. It’s owned by Mr. Lindsey Hyem and brother Keith and they influenced me greatly. Collections of bird eggs from around the world, limited edition John Gould bird books with life size images. National Geographic and Natural History Magazines handed down to me with posters of wildlife both painted and photographed. Inspired by Scientific Illustrators, I was always picking garden plants to draw and watercolour painting.  

Your art training background?
My background ability, comes from my father, Mr Walter H. Turner, named after an uncle who was a sniper during the war. Jim as he is known, used to draw for other children in class, as I did. His attention to detail in his drawings is phenomenal, he is also colour blind, not being able to see the colour red.  
Art training – Mr Max Ellem taught me how to shade in 4th class, Dungog Primary and High. The only colours I learnt about were the primary colours, as I couldn’t afford to buy all the colours produced, I had to make my own. I started painting commissions before I left school and decided to follow this path, whilst juggling hospitality jobs. P.S even today I mix my own colours using the primary colours, not off the shelf fancy named colours. I suppose I’m like a musician who plays by ear and cannot read music. I mix the colours I see but don’t know their names. 

How did you develop an interest in realist painting? Was it realism from the outset of your art career or did you experiment in other styles too?
No doubt from the outset, I was inspired by scientific illustrators like John Gould, hence realism. I have not experimented with different styles but have experimented with mediums from my then environment, the bush. 

Being selective loggers, Pipe – the rotten guts or the heart of a felled mahogany tree, is a rich red/brown clay like substance, with a strong smell, watered down to paint with on paper. I love painting on board or metal with enamel. The paint flattens itself and dries quick. Oil – I don’t care for. Acrylic is by far my favourite medium because it dries quick.  

Tell about what you love most about realism as a style?
Realism Style – I love realism, it’s my religion. I believe in recording our era - time in history, although I don’t paint events that upset me, they are important, I just prefer to leave that part of life to someone else to record.
The most challenging thing about realism in other peoples eye’s? Like religion or politics, if you don’t like it, at least show some respect.   
I have discovered in time that realism is so easy for anyone to judge. They love it because it tells their story as in a commission or just pulls at the heart strings, sentimental, humorous or just plan cute. They hate it because it looks to much like a photograph, it’s not painting, it’s not art, never mind, I’ve had more thumbs ups than thumbs downs and it sells. Touch wood! 

The township of Dungog is clearly an inspiration in the Lower Hinter Region?     
Dungog is my life. It’s where I will be buried, preferable in a chocolate lined coffin. Having three generations on my mother’s French, Egyptian, Aussie heritage side buried at Dungog and three generations of English, German, Australian South Seas Islander and Aussie heritage on my father’s side buried at Quart Pot Cemetery, good luck trying to keep me out of the shire. Both parents came from family owned dairies, but the love of timber for my father was greater. Living and working in the bush, we had the best of both worlds. 
You have recently won the Lesley Skinner Prize at the Dungog Art Society Exhibition?

Winning the Lesley Skinner Traditional Landscape prize this year at the Dungog Art Society Art Show, is an honour. I knew Lesley as a painter. We had a mutual respect, something you can feel and see, it’s a wonderful feeling. I have even seen it this week in mutual friends and fellow water colourists Mrs Ira Morgan and Mr Rene Brager. Like the old saying goes you don’t know what you have until you lose it.    

As for the prize money, this is the second time I have really needed it to pay the rego or green slip, next month. True. 
Tell me about your award winning work?

Tillegra Crossing – my mother’s family owned this land. It’s where the Tillegra Dam wall, was proposed to go.  Cutting Posts 1980’s – based on one of the first ever photos I took of our family working in the bush. Enamel painted on a 31 inch round saw blade, it’s still sharp too!   JOB:DUN – again respect for anyone working the land, the last link. 
I was enchanted by the work with the two Kelpies, tell me about this work pictured above?

It’s called; JOB : DUN - Completed on 23/5/2013.  Medium Acrylic  Size  18 x 20 inch Ampersand Gessoboard. This painting came about, for my love of Red Kelpies – working dogs in general. The photo I took originally, it was perfect timing and meant to be! From the Jacaranda in full bloom behind the white obelisk to the signage of distance to surrounding towns, a little artistic licence, leaving out a light pole and corner of a tray back ute, parked in front of me. 

Yes! 69.5 hrs to make people smile and feel proud of a small rural town. The process of painting flows easy when your heart and soul are in your work. I must admit by the time I painted the obelisk, Toyota and bitumen road, I realized how much I despise man-made objects – ALL THIS FOR THE DOGS!!

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