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Australian Watercolour Institute


With Claire Stockdale and John Cheeseman

The Australian Watercolour Institute continues the tradition of excellence that the art world of Sydney has been accustomed to in their 87th Anniversary Exhibition.The show will run right through December /January 2010 at the Mosman Gallery.  The AWI is a standard setter for this magical medium.  Diversity is here in style and subject matter from traditional to contemporary.  It is wonderful to see that all the movements in art which were combatants in the 20th century lie down peacefully with each other in the 21st. What was all the argument about? As we are aware in The Principality of Wy there are many rooms in the palace of art, all equally valid.

This medium really challenges, whereby the artist has no opportunity to fix a painting without risking losing spontaneity and freshness which  is the signature of the medium. Watercolourists are tightrope walkers,  is a sentiment suggested by Peter Pinson, a past president of the AWI.

Ian Chapman, Bob Baird, Sophie Dunlop and Vicki Parrish, are among the many JAAS graduates exhibiting as are current JAAS teachers Owen Thompson and Guy Troughton and Josefia Lemon.  Exhibitions organised by John Cheeseman, Director of the Mosman Gallery are always events.  On this occasions  Jane Rutter entertained the guests with  brilliant flute playing at the opening.

For those who do not have the opportunity to visit this fine exhibition The Australian Watercolour Institute website provides examples of the work and biographies of the members. You may acquire the beautifully presented 83rd Anniversary Book –  follow the links on the website

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John Olsen opens Max Miller Exhibition in Sydney

Max Miller and John Olsen reminisce

Art Atrium Gallery in  Sydney is the venue for the latest exhibition by Australian artist, Max Miller.  Max was my contemporary at the Julian Ashton Art school in Sydney, where we both worked under the watchful eye of Henry Cornwallis Gibbons. This was an occasion  to reminisce about old friends and adventures we had shared in Sydney and the bush.

John Olsen also had fond memories of the school having earlier been a student of “Gibby”, as we affectionately called him.  Max had printed many etching editions for John over the years at his Kangaloon studio and the two enjoy a long friendship and mutual regard.

John  offered to open Max’s show, which was tribute indeed when one considers the many requests the great artist receives and declines. Max searches for the spirituality of nature. His prodigious drawing talent permits him to move with ease from lyrical abstraction to the close observation of natural things, which he renders with searching analysis. He is an inveterate bushman and is never happier than when he is enjoying a solitary ramble, in all seasons, in the wild hinterland of Australia.

In his affectionate speech John Olsen observed that Max is a passionate master who paints the small things that the hurrying world passes by.  Max,  who could be embarrassingly modest about his achievements, had created work that was highly estimable and full of integrity.- Paul Delprat

Art Atrium Gallery located at  181 Old South Head Road, Bondi Junction in  Sydney.  See

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Rolf Harris

Rolf Harris and aunt Pixie O’Harris

The artist and author Pixie O’ Harris opened my very first exhibition. Pixie was the daughter of a fine Welsh portrait artist George Harris and the aunt of artist, Rolf Harris, whom she adored. There was art in the blood. I first visited Pixie, in the early 70’s in the company of my friend, Australian poet Geoffrey Lehmann, at her Holdsworth Street, Vaucluse home, where she lived in a fairytale house adorned with floor to ceiling art.

She reminisced with me about her girlhood days as a student of Julian Ashton at The Sydney Art School. Julian had told her to draw what she saw in front of her. The first object she was asked to draw was a cast of a human skull. Pixie got bored and drew fairies flitting in and out of the eye sockets of the skull. Julian, on his return, admonished Pixie gently. “I thought I told you to draw what you saw, Miss Harris.” “Well, Mr Ashton, that is so, but how did the great masters paint cupids and angels if they didn’t see them. Just because you cannot see fairies coming out of the eye sockets of the skull it doesn’t mean that I don’t.” Pixie was relieved when Julian walked away chuckling.

More recently, at the art school, we had an impromptu visit from Rolf Harris and his delightful and talented family. He had wanted to visit the art school where his much loved aunt Pixie had attended. I invited him to address the students and he regaled them with enthralling stories of his life as an artist and entertainer. Rolf is a Renaissance man. Listed among his many gifts are drawing, painting, writing and creating and performing music. Picasso’s maxim about “an artist who has understood his times”, applies so well to Australia’s son, Rolf Harris. Like his aunt, Rolf, with his imagination and talent, took the art world by storm.

Paul Delprat