One of the artistic highlights of the Central Tablelands cultural calendar is the annual Portland Art Show. Early this month saw the 38th annual exhibition of the Portland Art Purchase Society which was held at the historic Crystal Theatre. Although gloriously old fashioned this popular non-elitist festival reflects well on the community of Portland and surrounding district. Congratulations must go to the organisers, volunteers and sponsors of this wonderful event. For those who didn't enter this year, there is always 2015.
With over 300 paintings on show there was something that would appeal to most tastes although as with similar events there were a handful of weak works. Nearly all the images were in the realist tradition and as usual Plein Air (or outdoor painting) was much in evidence. There was a special focus on images of Portland and the surrounding landscape. Sadly, there were too few images of the area while there were many views of exotic overseas holiday destinations -perhaps a reflection of greater wealth in the area.There were some fine studies of the Capertee Valley by several artists including works by Trish Bennet, Anne E. Smith and Peter Whelan. There was also a lovely study of the Newnes Hotel by Robert Keen. Hopefully next year there will be more images of our district.
Flower painting was much in evidence this year and the exhibition highlighted the work of Wanda Driscoll, an artist who works in watercolour and oil. Driscoll’s high key palette found several admirers when I visited the show. Overall my favourite works at the exhibition were Doreen Shaw’s gouache In Farming Circles, and the amusing watercolours painted by Melody Stewart. Sadly there was no Peoples Choice vote this year. If there had been, my vote would have been for Debra Balloch’s fine oil Beyond My Garden, a well observed angular treescape which broke away from the clichéd gumtree painting style.