A significant artist whose works regularly sell for upwards of $25,000 has moved to Deloraine, with an upcoming exhibition at Colville Gallery, Hobart.
Garden in the Mountains Somewhere Near Deloraine, the new show from Richard Dunlop, is a series of abstract works that represent nature at its dreamiest.
However, creating works that draw on the environment does not mean Dunlop is here to lecture art-lovers on the topic of conservation. He is emphatic in that fact that his sole goal is put something beautiful in the world; something that wasn’t there before.
In that, he sees himself as, perhaps, “idiosyncratically old-fashioned” - but he believes there is much to be gained by simply creating art for art’s sake.
“The paintings are not trying to bluntly address any sort of environmental themes,” he explained.
“It can be a bit...twee...to bleat about those sorts of issues. The arts scene can be very much about taking a stance on things, and I actually don’t do that, I do the opposite.
“I enjoy the process of using the paint, and seeing what emerges – more like a classical musician, gaining mastery of the instrument to make certain sounds. Classical musicians never get challenged on, you know, what aren’t you saying something about climate change? That makes no sense, and I’m more in that vein.
“When I’m sitting in a darkened movie theatre, I get transported somewhere by the director of the movie.
“I’m hoping that viewers get transported to another place temporarily. That’s it. That's the whole objective. It’s no grander than that. I want to create objects that might have the capacity to do that for people.”
Dunlop has been working for 30 years, basing himself in Queensland, Europe, and Melbourne, along with extensive travels in the South Pacific.
About three years ago, however, he began looking for a particular kind of place to call home. Somewhere “surrounded by protected world heritage sites, and fresh air, and a small community that seem to be reasonably effortlessly happy most of the time – that don’t get traffic fines, and are a bit lawless sometimes.” That place was Deloraine.
After searching the country, from the hinterlands of Byron Bay to Port Fairy in southern Victoria, the cool climate of the little mountain-surrounded sanctuary proved to be irresistible.
The fact that the Meander River is the “platypus capital of the world” certainly didn’t hurt either.
Along with his partner, fellow award-winning artist Kylie Elkington, he has converted a grain silage from the 1850s into a stunning three-storey home, with a mind of converting it into boutique accommodation.
Accepting an artist of the calibre of Dunlop in turn, who is a Glover, Archibald, and Waterhouse Natural History Prize finalist, has four university degrees, and exhibits in galleries across the world, shouldn’t be a problem for the island state.
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