Indigenous artist Rosella Namok, Sharonne Solk and Lyell Bary will open the 2018 program at Newstead’s FireWorks Gallery.

All artists will demonstrate an interest in the subtle rhythms of nature and an abstracted minimalist aesthetic in their paintings, with Cairns-based artist Rosella Namok being renowned for her gestural strokes in her Nature’s Way acrylic on canvas paintings. Uki local Sharonne Solk will present her Violet Indigo Moss Series II oil paintings, while Brisbane’s Lyell Bary will exhibit his Guardians of the Secret 1999-2017 acrylic on plywood paintings.

Namok, perhaps the most successful artist to emerge from the Lockhart River community maintains her energetic painterly styles with a new collection of 24 works. In this exhibition, six of her most distinctive stories are explored through an array of vivid colour and formats: Stinging Rain, New Village, People and Couples, Unchii Tree & Beach Wood, Full Moon, and Rainforest.

Themes and variations arise from a personal response to lifestyle changes for her family and communities, including concerns with urban development in amidst the artist’s reflections on the timeless charm of her homeland habitat.

Works such as Sunrise Rain I 2017 and Houses in the Cyclone 2017 exemplify Namok’s artistic approach.

After graduating from Art School in the UK in 1992, Solk exhibited in Brighton and London. The artist then worked for two decades developing animated characters for film luminaries George Lucas and George Miller; in 2005 Solk was an animator for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. More recently, she has turned her creative sensibilities back to fine art, exploring human emotion through the simplicities and complexities of pure colour. Ten artworks composed of different width horizontal bands, with an intense colour palette predominantly green, purple, black and white, have been completed for this exhibition.

Born in New Zealand, Bary moved to Australia in 1981, establishing himself in Brisbane. This will be the artists first exhibition at FireWorks Gallery; six pieces have been selected showcasing earlier seminal pieces such as Bud I 2002 alongside both a recent work Reflected Neon in the Motel Swimming Pool 5 2017.

The artist commented on this latter work: “It is the unique pattern from the grain in each sheet of plywood that attracts me!” Bary acknowledges the influence on his work by Surrealist artist Max Ernst (1891–1976) who used timber to make rubbings that recalled plants and animals. A seventh piece will be located in the gallery stockrooms; Guardians of the Secret 1999 was the major work in Bary’s 2001 exhibition I Will Follow at Brisbane City Gallery.

In the catalogue essay, Toni Ross wrote “far from refusal to repeat himself or others, Bary doubles a patterned abstract formation that already inhabits the ‘natural’ material of wood veneer. In one way, but this will require complication, the paintings follow a template already laid down by nature-the rings and knots that mark stages of development within the outer casing of tree trunks”

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